The Battle In Seattle – Don’t Try to Fight the Feeling

Oh shit, I don’t even know how to feel about this right now. Riot porn + Dramatic Film Score + Perspective of Police (?) + muthafuckin’ Andre 3000. I think the fact I find this trailer so damn titillating means it will be marginally successful, bringing attention to what remains a vitally important event in contemporary American history.

The first thing to remember about Seattle is the role of violence. In reality, there was very little (if any) real violence done by protesters. The majority of the damage was directed at property (I suspect that there weren’t just folks chillin in Starbucks with a mass protest filling the streets outside, as in the trailer), and as a tactic it worked, on two levels – one, the meeting stopped. No joke. Two – it made the WTO a household name, when prior to Seattle, the organization intentionally kept a low profile, trying to pass off their ‘reforms’ without public comment. (as a side note, many WTO decisions on trade rules occur by administrative fiat, handed down from what amounts to a globalized Supreme Court, and can’t be overruled unless every country in the WTO disagrees – a process called ‘negative consensus’. It runs on ignorance.)

With the ‘riots,’ the WTO became front page news, for the first time. The movie shows why it worked – the whole conflict was theatrical, imagistic warfare, almost like something out of a movie. The battle invoked property manchean divisions, and a fall from grace narrative that never gets old. A peaceful protest, corrupted by radical forces that bring them into conflict with a faceless, menacing enemy that took damn good pictures.

I still have my concerns. I’m worried the film will over-dramatize what should be seen as a regular occurrence – dissent that extends into active civil disobedience, including breaking laws. Since Seattle (or, more specifically since the February 15th, 2003 protests failed to stop the War in Iraq), the American anti-war and anti-globalizaiton movement has been on a downward slide (at least in terms of mass mobilization, other DA tactics have perhaps been more successful). Part of the reason is fear – of the cops, of arrest, of pepperspray, of anarchists, among other things. I worry that this film might contribute to the melodramatization of protest to the point where people don’t want to do it any more.

I’m curious to see what people take away from the film. I wonder if the message of the disparate groups will come through – the film’s website makes a nominal effort to expose folks to the messages, but the film might just take itself too damn seriously to let the arguments of protesters come through. (perhaps a reason for better organizing – this time for the screen as a stage)

Also: shoutout to Lt. Starbuck, now on the blogroll.  He has shit to say on this topic in his latest post. Much love, much love.

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One response to “The Battle In Seattle – Don’t Try to Fight the Feeling

  1. holy shit, titillating indeed.

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