Rage against whose machine?

So I had originally planned on having a go at Disney cartoons this week right after I realized the Lion King is US-branded propaganda against the Arab world. Don’t believe me? There’s evidence. Miss Bambi at totallylookslike.icanhascheezburger.com has Scar and Gaddafi put together and framed in one picture, as she shares the realization with the illuminating caption: “Cuz, like, Gaddafi is just like Scar: Evil, crazy, and likely to be eaten by hyenas that once worked for him.” Noted political commentator Glenn Beck, ranting against the Muslim Brotherhood last February, said he has no love for Gaddafi, who reminds him of Scar from the Lion King. I don’t know you, but I thought that was enough to write a hell of a piece.

I had already started doing some further research into drugs and Alice in Wonderland when last week I woke up to the sight of Rome burning. Cars set on fire, banks destroyed, people running around in scarves beating the hell out of policemen. I felt I was back in August, back in London. If it weren’t for the Coliseum and the general lack of Tesco shops and Burberry hats, I would have thought I was caught in some Inception-like trip.

Italians do, however, riot differently. There is something peculiar to each nation when it comes to rioting. Each country has its own standard rioter. In Rome, this was the gladiator-style, 6 ft tall, steroids-pumped douche. The gladiator douche doesn’t really give a damn about his fellow rioters, and when it comes to the fight, he reaches multiple orgasms when he manages to lift an iron barricade and throw it against the cops. There’s something worryingly masochistic about the gladiator douche. The more he gets beaten, the more hatred he stores against the system, and the better he feels.

The funny thing is that the leader of the Rome Revolution was no gladiator stud. The blond, curly-haired, half-naked and self-proclaimed leading indignado was pictured scarf-less showing the middle finger to cops and press, minutes before throwing a fire extinguisher at the police. Identified and arrested the morning after, he justified himself claiming he had wanted to extinguish the fire on the nearby police car he had seized. I wish I had written something on Disney, but this is turning out to be just as funny.

But I feel as though I am somehow missing the point here. So let’s go back to the start. Rome was not filled with idiots alone; there were hundreds of thousands of mentally stable people too. Tons of people who had decided to take to the streets after PM Berlusconi’s latest political escapade during a no-confidence vote the day before.

So don’t get me wrong – there’s a huge difference between a protester and a rioter. The thing is, I have a feeling the latter could obscure the former. I mean, what’s so great about watching thousands of people marching down the streets holding hands and flowers, shouting the same old slogans, sitting down before the police as if it were all a revival of the 1960s? Why speak to the cops when you can throw rocks at them instead? So the Happy Clappies saw their share of the show being swiftly taken over by the troops of so-called freedom fighters, dressed with hoodies and V for Vendetta masks, who catalysed the attention of the press in a matter of minutes. And it worked. That morning I had the videos playing on repeat for about three hours.
We seem to have come to a stage where protests can really spark change. Or, if anything, at least a good deal of media fetishism. The Arab Spring, the London Riots, the Rome riots, the Athens riots, and of course, Occupy Wall Street. But New York is somehow different – where are the douche bags? Yeah, and what’s up with the peaceful atmosphere; why is no-one throwing stones?

What if we are just witnessing the Pokemon-style evolution of the global protester? London looter, Roman rioter, American occupier. Fair enough, sitting in a square and setting up your tent may not be as fun as smashing things and stabbing people, but it may well be, in the long term, the way to an end of it all.

The end of what precisely, I do not know. I have a feeling those legions of Roman morons setting fire to cars and smashing statues did not know either. Which is why I should have written a piece on Disney, drugs, sex and Gaddafi. Who looks like Scar. Don’t believe me? Ask Glenn Beck.


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