February 7, 2007

Ratting Out


(click for full size)

In a BAG post, and a Huffington piece I contributed this week on the recent Washington anti-war demonstration, I raised questions about the viability of the modern-day protest demonstration.  Interestingly, in both discussion threads, similar comments emerged about personal time and economics.

For example, HuffPost commenter JLB wrote:

As someone who was there, the protests of the ’60s and ’70s were a different thing. It was a time of single income families (mortgages at 1/4 income) – which translates to free time. The middle class and single income family have been – willfully – destroyed. … no more free time.

The average person is several paychecks away from oblivion – they cant attend an optional activity at the expense of – potentially – their survival.

Instead, they communicate in other ways. Ranging from text messaging to blogging – or did you miss the rise of online activities in recent years. Well, MSM did miss it. Several political candidates have not.

This is an issue regarding the death of the middle class and single income families. How easily we have come to accept our own economic demise.

Maybe we should … protest. 🙁

Another “D.C. demonstration commenter” at Huffington went a similar route, explaining how reduced protest energy reflected how corporate America has co-opted the two-party system.  With the Democrats rising, perhaps an awareness is growing that “fortunes” at the bottom and in the middle might not be commensurately on the rise?

While doing the demonstration post, I also got interested in the media coverage of the Super Bowl ads.

The thrust of a NYT analysis of this year’s crop focused on the theme of violence and militarism, seemingly “inspired” by the debacle in Iraq.  One of the frames in the Times slide show, however, cut a different way for me.  The screen shot, from an E*Trade ad, depicted bank customers being robbing by the employees.

In analyzing news and media images, one thing I like to focus on from time to time is what we don’t get to see.

In this case, we have something  fabulously rare.  It’s a ultra-high profile, mega-dollar commercial trumpeting how corporate America skins the customer.  Of course, the smack-down only comes courtesy of the differentiation between the banking and brokerage industries.  Still, industry segment competitive bloodletting or not, it’s nice — if not a manipulation still — to have the snapshot of free market truth.

I leave it to you to consider the choice of the rabbit, the chicken, the pig and the cow, and the particular techniques and methods they represent.  (Certainly, with the amount of time I spend on the phone with over-courteous but under-trained support people, the rabbit is not the first animal to come to mind.)  Telling, as well, is that the choice of a black person as the closest witness to the reverse bank robbery (and there’s more good symbolism too.)

Anyway, I would love to show you more examples of the system unmasking itself — but don’t bank on it.  It’s just that, in this one case, Madison Ave. saw more money to be made by shining the light on the rats.

(image: frame grab.  February 5, 2007. nytimes.com)

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Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

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