The banks are unbowed. The government is unmoved. Wealth distribution remains unchanged. Debts remain on the books. Weeks after protesters first began camping out in New York City’s Zuccotti Park, Occupy Wall Street has yet to force compliance with its “demands” — but by one indicator of contemporary cultural relevance, the nascent movement already has made an impact.
People are making fun of it.
On late night television, comedian Bill Maher lamented the movement’s “bongo drums,” lack of focus and occasional public nudity, while talk show host Jimmy Kimmel quipped that the protests were “also known as the largest homeless-persons slumber party in the world.”
In print, a satirical Occupy Wall Street manifesto demands that “a master of fine arts in musical theater writing, with a minor in German, become an immutable human right,” while an editorial cartoon depicts the Occupiers as a child sitting at a lemonade stand, surrounded by untouched lemons, with an empty pitcher labeled “tips” and a sign reading “Gimme.”
Online, the mockery ranges from apolitical parody — see the “Occupy Sesame Street” meme, which includes Twitter jokes and digitally doctored news photos of Elmo, Bert and company being arrested by police — to the biting riposte of the “We Are the 53 Percent” blog on Tumblr, where contributors chide protesters to “get a life, get a job and stop whining!”
“This is a big story,” said conservative filmmaker Mike Wilson, who created the “We Are the 53 Percent” blog. “I was down in Zuccotti Park last night. It’s real. I think it’s worthy of satire that points out some of its shortcomings. I disagree with them, and poking fun at them is one of my ways to communicate.”
In general, the politically minded lampooning has two underlying themes: first, that the protesters are overly entitled; second, that the movement’s critiques of both capitalism and growing wealth disparity in American society are misguided.
Like Mr. Wilson, Mr. Munasifi saw Occupy Wall Street as a prime target for spoofing — in part because the protesters have attracted worldwide attention, in part because he feels that life for Americans not in the richest 1 percent of society isn’t particularly bad, despite the movement’s fundamental complaint that too much wealth is concentrated in too few hands.
Duly inspired, Mr. Munasifi recorded a song parody set to the strains of Bob Dylan’s iconic “The Times They Are a Changin’.” An accompanying YouTube video depicts Mr. Munasifi strumming a guitar among Occupy D.C. protesters in downtown Washington, singing the following lyrics:
Come gather round people
Come and join your hands
We’re taking Wall Street
And we’re making demands
We need poster board
I can’t make it myself
But it’s 10 cents a sheet
At the store it’s on sale
An example of the economies of scale
It’s so evil
“I thought the protesters were overlooking the fact that money isn’t necessarily wealth,” said Mr. Munasifi, 31, an Arlington resident. “The wealthiest guy 200 years ago had a chamber pot. Today, it’s amazing that I can have an iPhone, and it’s no worse than the one the King of Saudi Arabia has. Things are getting better.”
“We demand the end to a corrupt Wall Street (“Apple,” “your 401(k)”) because banks hold too much power,” he wrote. “We demand that government consolidate authority so that elected officials can make prudent choices for us. All that cash in banks was printed by the war god Mars and has nothing to do with the voluntary deposits by ordinary Americans, so we do not consider this theft.”View Entire Story
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Patrick Hruby is an award-winning journalist who holds degrees from Georgetown and Northwestern. He also contributes to ESPN.com and The Atlantic Online, and his work has been featured in The Best American Sports Writing. Follow him on Twitter (@patrick_hruby) and contact him at PatrickHruby.net.
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