Big Smoke

'cause it's hard to see from where I'm standin'

Occupy Whatever looks mighty white-bread

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so says the NYTimes. And I can only respond, “well, duuuuhhh


Now, again, I’m still not saying that the reason for their being there isn’t worthy of consideration, and indeed I do agree that our economic model at the moment seems blatantly constructed to, well, fuck us. That it really is college and fresh-from-college kids from middle-class backgrounds angry that they’re not given the piece of the pie they were promised isn’t in itself a bad thing. Reformations and revolutions tend to happen when the middle class views and aligns itself with the poor rather than the rich.

That said, there’s a social divide present and they have done very little to bridge it, and in that division speaks to the assumptions of those downtown that in some manner detracts poorer (and more diverse) constituencies. This must be addressed if this movement is to do more than evoke horrible and horrifying parallels to the Tea Party movement, tho I hesitate to even compare the two, or worse, evoke ridiculous I-live-in-a-bubble campus quad vibes like the Occupy Museums schtick.

Nevertheless, tangentially-related, being in a bubble myself in the form of living in Manhattan, I only come across such monolithic demographics in gamer cultures. Of course, being able to play computer games and afford them the time to get involved in the culture is itself a middle class conceit, but you look online and it’s predominantly white, young, and male, leading straight to the well-known racial epithet-laden cesspool that we know of as Xbox Live.

I was recently reminded of such by an event at Blizzard Entertainment’s convention, where they had commissioned a band that went up and peppered their speech and music with the sorts of casually homophobic language you simply can’t say in mixed company. Not that they played in front of mixed company, if you know what I mean. The backlash was surprisingly muted online, where many stepped up to defend their bigotry by declaring ‘free speech’ and arguing that despite using the terms “gay” and “fag” pejoratively, they were not directing their ire towards homosexuals per se, and therefore were not homophobic.

That such an argument could even fly speaks to the sorts of circles these people hang out in.  Indeed, having played Blizzard’s World of Warcraft for over four years, nothing of what these guys said sounded out of the ordinary to me, because the general decorum on trade or barrens chat is that of a suburban middle school lunchroom. Needless to say, these particular idiots “may not” have been explicitly directing their language towards homosexuals, but their language cannot be construed as anything but offensive to homosexuals, if for no other reason than that nobody is innocent to the connotations of those words and nobody says those words in regular speech except within the monolithic demographic enclaves of suburban American teenagers.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but such communities have never been known for being particularly friendly towards homosexuals or, for that matter, any other form of otherness. Hell, the whole It Gets Better project is directed towards homosexual teens in closed, suburban enclaves because they could not escape the intolerance and homophobia until their majority and independence.

Now, that’s a far cry from the guys downtown, but I honestly believe that there is some similar conceit in their thinking and methodology that has precluded this from really representing New York instead of piles of bussed-in hipsters.

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2 Responses to “Occupy Whatever looks mighty white-bread”

  1. inoli
    on Oct 29th, 2011
    @ 5:28 am

    amen to all that.

    though i would add that any self selected group tends to become other-phobic through inbreeding of their memes (often in perceived self defense).

    i have become a bit of an eremite because of my aversion to the “casual” putdowns i find peppering the speech of almost any small self selected gathering of people. and i desperately refuse to twitter back and forth as so many now do.

    i guess i have reached the cubby-hole of fuddy-duddyism. but then o can read books and indulge in their windows into extended thoughtful pursuit of intelligent communication and thus often escape the casual use of negative stereotypes of others.

    reading carefully selected books i can indulge my inquisitive mind with only an occasional fit of induced rage overwhelming me and destroying my hard won sense of serenity that i have been able to achieve more and more regularly in my old age.

  2. Ethnic Succession is not the same thing as Gentrification « Big Smoke
    on Sep 23rd, 2013
    @ 8:24 pm

    […] overpriced areas in the city. I remarked how the demographics of the Occupy Wall Street movement were not terribly reflective of the New York milieu, and to me the reason was because there’s a class line that was drawn: Hipster Williamsburg […]

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