On 17 September 2012, Occupy Wall Street celebrated its first anniversary. In spite of the usual problems facing bottom-up political activism in the long term, on which Pamela Brown reported a few months ago, OWS is still alive and kicking. Protest is clearly ‘in’, as the global protests on 14 November 2012 also demonstrated. But social movements and political protest have also made it to the screen, as memories of protest and rebellion reverberated both at the 69th Venice Film Festival and at the Toronto International Film Festival this year, with Olivier Assayas’ movie about the French 1968 protests (Après mai), Robert Redford’s interpretation of a former Weather Underground member in The company you keep, and Shola Lynch’s documentary about the black civil rights activist Angela Davis, Free Angela & All Political Prisoners.
Characteristic of OWS as well as other recent protests across the world, notably the Arab Spring, is the role of social media and the subsequent global reach of the protests. In Why it’s Kicking off Everywhere. The New Global Revolutions (Verso, 2012), BBC Newsnight economics editor and journalist Paul Mason narrates the course of events in both the Arab world and in a number of European countries since the start of the financial crisis, and analyzes the role and impact of social media in these protests. Starting with the Tahrir Square uprisings, “a revolution planned on Facebook, organized on Twitter and broadcast to the world via YouTube,” Mason takes us back to the 2008 clashes in Greece and Iran’s ‘Twitter Revolution’ in 2009, when the images of a dying Neda Agha-Soltan – discussed recently on this blog by Lisa Lipscomb – made it across the globe in a matter of minutes. Through citizen journalism, Neda became a “global icon” and a martyr, provoking a “thread of solidarity and collective mourning” both online and in the streets (see also Aleida and Corinna Assmann’s chapter in Memory in a Global Age).
In . . .