September 2, 2012

RNC Poaches "We are the 99%" and Alludes to Latinos in Desert as Road Kill in One Video

In the wake of the Wall Street backlash that unleashed a powerful wave of activist and creative energy this year,  it only makes sense that the conservatives would be looking to co-opt those themes and visual memes both to water them down and to try and siphon off a little of that populist indignation for itself. And voilà, welcome to “Bump in the Road.”

You probably had to be watching on C-SPAN to see it, but the Republican Convention presented an interesting video on Tuesday night. Blatantly appropriating the visual narrative of the grassroots Occupy Wall Street-related “We are the 99%” Tumblr blog, here we see lower and middle class Americans on an abandoned road in the desert somewhere holding up personalized (Romney) signs speaking to their dire economic straights. Cynically, the phrase “We’re not a bump in the road,” plays off a benign Obama speech line about “bumps in the road” to economic recovery. Lying down on the asphalt in the middle of an empty desert highway at the outset of the video, citizens stand and, holding up their sign, proclaim one after one: “I’m not a bump in the road.”)

Besides the clear lifting of the format, there’s also disturbing ethnic dimension to the symbolism. Given how the video disproportionally features Hispanics out there in the empty desert, perhaps the message is less about empathy than about the close connection here between GOP anti-immigrants policies and road kill.

RNC Video: Bump in the Road.

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Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

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