It is an amazing thing to see – when something that began as a trend is able to change the world. It has happened before. Facebook is probably the most famous example. It has completely revolutionized how groups interact with one-another. The Internet began as a military program, and now it has been able to link the world like never before. Things that used to just be seen as trendy are now reshaping the entire world. But there is one invention that has been reshaping things like never before – YouTube.
I know it will be hard to believe. Most of the prudish scholarly types are still just calling it a trend, a fad, something that will come and go. But that is not true. That is less true now than ever. Now, more than ever before, YouTube is entering the public arena. I am, of course, talking about the Occupy Wall Street protests. This has brought YouTube into the fold of what is being recognized in the world of not only journalism, but social progress as well.
What began as the dream of three former PayPal employees has now become just a much a part of the media and social culture as Facebook. For real, anything that you can possibly imagine being a part of life, YouTube is a part of. There are families who share their travels with the world. There are professors who record their lectures on put them on YouTube. There is even a clause in the YouTube license that says that somebody can post news clips, which makes it easy for people to stay informed. The best clips are posted by various television networks, like Comedy Central. There is a plethora vloggers who are all working to get their ideas and opinions out into the world. My favorite is TJ Kincaid, aka The Amazing Atheist. He is a free-minded guy who is not nice with his words, but very good with his points. He talked recently about the protests in New York City.
Because my favorite clip of all is – there’s this big march full of these passionate protestors, and they’re doing their chants, and you can just see the passion on their faces, and then above them there’s this balcony, full of rich Wall Street investment banker types, and they’re all drinking champagne and laughing, and they have these looks of bemused contempt on their faces. Like, ‘look darling, the peasants are revolting!’ ‘Yes they are (fake laughing sound)’”
And that has been a sentiment that Wall Street seems to have about this whole state of affairs. They seem to not think that this is important. While there are signs that things are going to pick up, it remains to be seen if this is going to be some kind of huge deal the way that those who are involved believe it is. Michael Moore and Susan Sarandon showing up and talking has gotten the mainstream media involved. The corporate media is starting to talk more about this, but one could make the argument that that is just because of the fact that it is getting bigger, becoming more than just a worthless issue.
YouTube also helped this issue as well. This protest was being as ignored as possible by the corporate media. But YouTube came into play in ways that nobody could have imagined. Also, a huge political commentator came into the arena in a big way. Keith Olbermann, who is now on Current TV, came onto the scene. He, and commentators like Sam Seder, The Young Turks, and the YouTube vlogger scene massively came out and was talking about this. But YouTube brought this into the light in ways that nobody could have imagined. It exposed an unacceptable amount of police brutality with these peaceful demonstrations. Each video has gone viral, and it has generated massive buzz. As you can imagine, when police brutality came to the public eye, the first thing the cops did was say that it wasn’t their fault.
On Monday, the police department was blithely insisting that the use of pepper spray, and all the rest of the brutality caught on tape was appropriate, even while we and anyone else with internet access had video proving that it was completely unjustified.”
That was from a Rewrite sequence from The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell. He goes on to explain that Anthony Bologna is going to be investigated. But, like so many of these investigations, it is all just a sham. It is going to be a lot of shtick that is designed to make us think that something is actually going to happen. In all likelihood, Bologna will either not be charged with anything, or will be given a slap on the wrist. He also shows that Bologna is not the only one. YouTube has several more videos that have gone viral, all showing more police brutality.
And the people who this brutality was directed at were those who were doing their Constitutional duty, and filming the cops. They were trying to film a completely peaceful protest, and they were treated like criminals by cops. These cops are slaves to the system. Allison Kilkenny wrote an article talking about this very problem.
The teargas aside starts to tap into something important: how the police state and its domestic weaponry and bureaucratic assist with the needs for permits to do anything in protests have successfully crippled the activism community. Activists are afraid. You can smell it in their midst.”
But while she says that, and her article makes some very good points, there are signs that hope may just be in the air. For while the police are cracking down on the public, they are still standing up. They are still choosing to put themselves in danger and dawn their video cameras. They are still choosing to ignore the fact that the police are nothing more than a weapon of the state these days, and they are not letting fear stop them from coming together.
There are even plans to march on the central police station in New York City. They are going to make themselves known to the police. Should they go through with this, anything could happen. Part of me fears for those who will send a message to the cops that they cannot be driven by fear. I hope for their safety. But when the public decides to push against the weapons the state has, that is a step up from how Kilkenny described them in her article as “young, brash, and lost.” This is something more.
And YouTube will continue to be a part of this. It will still continue to be involved in this war against a machine that has grown far too powerful for its own good. We can hope that groups like Anonymous, and the independent and foreign media will be there as well, to help these brave soldiers of peace.
Until next time, a quote,
“Soon enough, the protestors realized that using their cameras meant that they were running a much more serious risk than being beaten and arrested, and still they had the courage to do it. There’s a very brave man in this picture. A very brave man. And it’s not the guy in the white shirt.” -Lawrence O’Donnell, The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell