It seems like this mode of calling and repeating is present in other Occupy activities, such as the reading of lists of demands and other things at General Assemblies.
Is the Mic Check different? And to relate to Nathan’s question, does this diffuse the message or the words of other performances? Or are they serving mostly as acts of unity and anonymity (or leaderlessness, perhaps)?
I like the idea of a "democratic" version of the "royal" we, and mic check not as an act of an MC (Master of Ceremonies), but as a creator of publics (though MC’s can and do intiate publics, albeit in a more top down fashion). That said, I worry that the echolalia induced intersubjectivity you describe might limit the extent to which one public might connect with another, and in so doing fail to create a network of publics joined by a common interest. At what point does the consolidation of this public stunt its expansion, or limit the diffsusion of its message?
On the whole I found Kevin Howley’s article very useful. I follow the Guardian and not very much the US press on the occupy movement. I was therefore pleasantly surprised to discover from the other side of the Atlentic a favorable coverage of the movement.Indeed Amy Goodman represents for me, a british educated Greek what is best about US public sphere. I’m not surprised that her opinions are ostracised by corporate media and particularly the Fox news who are spearheading the movement to bring the US to neocon fundamentalism.Thus I’m not surprised that Charlie Rose keeps the consensus on foreign and domestic issues and only occasionaly gives voice to dissenting voices such as Ammy Goodman and Slavoj Zizek.
I think ambivalence is a good word to describe this clip, Sharon. There is a moment in which the host remarks how silly he looks with that hat, and then he immediately apologizes, clarifying: "I look silly NOT because you guys are silly, but because I don’t belong (to this tradition)." I thought this was a revealing comment about the "foreignness" of certain cultural elements of identity (and representation) if you are from a different region in Italy. Such foreignness is not overcome by a true sense of belonging to the same nation as much as by the participation in a TV program that has global appeal.
Samir, thanks for your comment. I find the topic you raise fascinating. The Oedipal dimension complicates this topic in interesting ways. I think the catch here is that the athlete-husband does not want to be sexually intimate with his wife or his mother. When they become mothers or assume the motherly role the athlete then desexualizes them. I also think that the behind-the-scenes family dynamics makes it off-limits to the public. If the public were to see a male sports star (virile, masculine) being made a baby by his wife/mother it would emasculate him. He would then lose favor among the public.
Enjoyed your witty contribution. In the light of what you say, isn’t an implication that the "athlete-husband" is infantilized as he (since it is usually a he) motherizes his wife or in Woods’ case "mujerizes" his mother in a kind of Oedipal triangle where the father is a missing link? Is this a kind of public assumption of a metaphorical fetal position, seeking protection, by the embattled athlete and therefore also a way of seeking public sympathy, all other routes of appeal closing fast around said athlete’s ears? Or is this missing the trees for the woods?
Of course, the counternarrative of Vick’s victims is muted considerably as he did not physically harm any human beings. There is an entire class/race/religious intersection that complicates Americans’ perceptions of dogfighting and animal rights that could constitute another entire entry.
Thanks for the feedback Samir! Indeed, the axes are multiple and complicated.
You raise an important point about the dangerous and often unspoken premise that Vick shows sports as the "only way out" of an economically disenfranchised situation. This mythology was at the center of the UMiami football program’s popularity AND derision in the 1980s. Many white fans (especially in the southwest) despised it for being made up of "thugs," others saw the team representing a gateway to the private school privilege to which those from lower income, "ghettoized" neighbourhoods would not otherwise be granted access.
This mythology reveals tension surrounding the American exceptionalism concept. Within many southeast low-income black communities, this concept is inherently flawed and does not correspond to their reality (or perception of it, at the very least).
One could look at Ryan’s upbringing and assume that if he hadn’t become a football player, he could still have easily pursued a comfortable existence (he’d already completed his degree and took additional night classes during his senior year). He wouldn’t be "destined" for a life of dogfighting had football failed him, whereas it is often portrayed (by both races) that such an existence would have been inevitable for Vick.
It is a very complicated intersection of race, class and regionalism, not MERELY one of the three. Another interesting example illustrating this is Donovan McNabb. McNabb is arguably one of the three most successful black quarterbacks ever: making five Pro Bowls and like Ryan, his life is scandal-free. But he also has northeastern middle-class roots and has come under fire for, essentially, not playing "black" enough, or not having the "tough" upbringing that a black athlete is "supposed" to have. His critics thus argue he does not break the rigid white structure surrounding QB (something Touré references) because he challenges archetypes in race ONLY.
This "streetball" element contributes greatly to Vick’s popularity: he challenges the (presumably white) concept of what successful quarterbacks do, not just whether successful QBs are white.
Very interesting curation, particularly in the way you contrast Vick and Ryan along several axes: religion, class and race. I’m particularly interested in the race issue: the rhetoric and imagery that complicate the recent flap about how Vick has been represented in images distributed online. Touré’s ESPN The Magazine piece, which you referenced, "What if Michael Vick Were White?" whipped up a furore regarding this racializing representation. The context of sport casts this topic in a particular light. I am wondering about the enunciative status of this "What If …?" Who is asking this question about the racialized figure of Michael Vick, for instance? What is the motivation for the reduction of racial difference through humor? Can this sort of humor transcend (or does it merely minimize) the scandal of racism? Does it reinforce the dangerous myth that for black men especially, sports are the most visible or plausible route to fame and fortune? And ironically Vick’s popularity may be due at least in part to the way it feeds this myth. It would be interesting to hear more from you about how important this factor is in the contrast between Vick ‘s and Ryan’s public profiles or popularity.
Thanks for these helpful comments. Darcey, you raise important questions. I too was struck by the NYT op-ed arguing that "if McQueary walked in on a 10 year old girl (instead of a boy) being raped, he would have stopped it immediately and called the police." You asked if I agreed, and how this relates to the cult of masculinity. Would the situation have been different if it were a girl?
First, there was some hocus pocus about McQueary vacillating on his report that he did nothing. In email(s) he claimed he did in fact interrupt the rape of a boy; that’s not what he told police. This has become fodder to Sandusky’s legal team. To your main questions I can only say I’d be devasted if McQueary made a "differential" decision. To think he would have preferentially intervened on behalf of a girl rather than a boy is devastating. First, it suggests that same-sex victimization is more shameful and dishonorable (what kind of sexual calculus is this?). But does it also suggest that male victims are less deserving of protection or intervention—more dispensable? Does it suggest that while it would be construed, once word got out, that McQueary was being chivalrous if he had "saved" a damsel in distress, it is not quite as glamorous to enact this chivalric code in an all-male triad of victimizer, victim and savior? This kind of differential calculus would be shameful, if it went through McQueary’s mind. And Bryce, I think you’re right on about another cultural meme in play here, that males should be able to defend themselves. This displaced machismo would be a misplaced burden on a boy who is being raped.