Monday, September 24, 2018

Where is the Street Theater of the Resistance?

My friend Shira Houghton gives her thoughts on what the resistance to Trump really needs:

During the campaign I wanted to dress protesters up in shackles and Trump colored orange shirts that said, "Did he grab me?" "Did he rape me" "Did he ruin me?" The crimes of Donald Trump are myriad, but somehow were ignored by a ridiculously large percentage of our population. We need more theater! I thought. However, I got no traction from my friends and fellow soccer Moms for this and stupidly assumed that other, better politically connected people, would pick up the ball.

Hillary adapted "Fight Song," which is cute and catchy, for her campaign. And she also had... what? People of good cheer trying to do the right thing? A few flash mobs showing how diverse and lovely her base is? I weep remembering our naïveté in thinking that a few chicks in pantsuits dancing with some of the wheelchair bound was going to be enough to Bring Down the Patriarchy .

It's become a cliché to say that we are in a national crisis; the list of what we are losing every single day seems endless and soul destroying. However, most of the personal atrocities we know about, the ones people connect to viscerally, happen without a camera's eye upon them. We occasionally hear the sounds of children in cages, but most of the visuals we see are of the bittersweet reunifications. We know sexual assault happen, but unless it's a gang rape there are rarely eyewitnesses other than the assailant and survivor.

There are notable exceptions. Therese Patricia Okoumou scampered up the Statue of Liberty to protest the separation of migrant families. Black people are training cameras on both horrific murders and life denying stories of barbequing-while-black. The sounds of children who had been ripped from their parents were smuggled out and disseminated to a horrified public. The Trump Baby Balloon and Rubber Chicken are cartoon gimmicks that help bring eyes, ears and humor to the Resistance.

I beg, nay implore, that we need more Handmaids. We need installations with barbed wire and teddy bears and babies bawling in their “iceboxes.” We need whirling dervish dances about assault and fear. We need Punch and Judy puppet shows where 45 smashes small businesses and is flushed down a sinkhole. We need subversive videos that cartoonishly lampoon these straight, white guys and their mushroom dicks. We need to illuminate in song and dance just how these rich guys want to make our country their personal piggy bank.

Vote? Of course Vote! Drag and drive friends and strangers to the booth! But we vote rarely. We must protest loudly, messily, beautifully and frequently. The news about KavaNos was filled with the visuals of Handmaids and the screams of Rage. We need more of that. They are stealing the American Dream from us one silenced woman and one traumatized person of color at a time. We are the Majority! We need to ridicule their evil, illustrate their vices, echo their obfuscations so loudly they must cover their ears from the roar. Theater is not easy, but neither is Democracy. W e stand to gain so much more than we lose by making our art and our hearts dramatically heard.

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