Friday, March 17, 2006

The nature of protest. I'm finding the best thing about that stupid athletic meet disrupting our city at the moment is the protests and ill will surrounding it. I thought about asking people around to watch the opening ceremony on television, but: a) that would imply that I thought it was worth watching. You can't hide behind irony on this one - it was simply a lame thing to be watching on TV; b) I thought my head would explode from embarrassment. People who know me know how easily I am embarrassed, and merely watching the clips from the opening ceremony on the late news was enough to instil Rain Man-esque wailing and smacking of forehead. Definitelydefinitely didn't want to watch the opening ceremony.

Here I must state that I believe a lot of protesting isn't offensive as much as embarrassing. Effigy-burning, street mime and chants beginning in "Hey hey, ho ho" are particularly embarrassing to me. Dressing up as Batman and scaling Buckingham Palace has a sort of cool to it, but fittingly, that protest was the ultimate Embarrassing Dad Joke.

But I think the protests planned during the Commonwealth Games have been different. I like them because they contradict the weird sanitised version of Melbourne that is making everyday life very annoying and inconvenient for residents, and robbing visitors of the opportunity to experience the best of what this city has to offer. I like them because they hijacked the super-embarrassing baton relay and because they inconvenienced the Queen's ill-advisedly-named "walkabout" in the Carlton Gardens.

So I've been kind of irritated by the official attitude to protest and political comment surrounding this event. Their stance appears to be: Sure, we'll piggyback off your vibrant creative culture, as long as you don't do any of the things that make it vibrant and creative. I've heard of artists having to sign contracts to say they won't contradict "the spirit of the Games". I've heard of legislation being drafted to prevent protests of any kind - especially releasing animals into an official body of water. God help us if that were to happen.

Here's Councillor David Wilson from the City of Melbourne on a roving graffiti art exhibition that attempts to highlight and counteract the council's censorship of street art: "Everybody has the right to protest as long as they do it in a way that's not offensive."

This gave me the shits. Protest is meant to be offensive! It's only by being offensive that it calls attention to the arbitrary standards of propriety devised by the state!

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Site Meter