gistofthegrist

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Archive for the day “November 4, 2012”

The wild wild messed

So apologies, but it being that time of year … there might be a couple of posts about PROTEST.

Guy Fawkes night approaches, “Remember remember the fifth of November / Gunpowder, treason and plot / I see no reason why gunpowder, treason / Should ever be forgot…” But strangely perhaps most no longer do remember what they are celebrating? I doubt that many will actually know either the reasons for the historical Gunpowder Plot or how the ‘festival’ came about. Simply [one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter] the reason was essentially [no matter how misguided – indeed it made matters much worse for the next 200 years] as a protest against religious persecution.

click to hear Henry Hall & His Orchestra, The Teddy Bear’s Picnic, 1932
[will open in another window so you can enjoy whilst reading the post]

And the Observance of 5th November Act – 1605, also known as the ‘Thanksgiving Act’, was an Act of Parliament passed in 1606 which  ‘enforced’ an annual public holiday, which became the predominant English state commemoration until the Act was repealed in 1859 [politicians self-aggrandizing as usual! One would think that most these days would actually, metaphorically of course, side with Fawkes? Hence his rehabilitation?] Interestingly it wasn’t until nearly 200 years later that old Fawkes became the victim of the bonfire; originally it was effigies of the Pope! [merely highlighting the reasons for the trouble and what lit the blue touchpaper of the plot in the first place.]

I snapped this Banksy [that now well known ‘street art’ protester] on a derelict building in Bristol, England a couple of years back. Its rich symbolism continues to fascinate me. A battle between perceived black/evil and white/good. A combination of protest methods – Riot meets Tactical Frivolity. The surrealism of a cuddly toy being violent, [aside: a bear suit would be a good way to hide your body armour but not great for a quick escape] always hard to see symbols of childhood ‘act up’ [a riot taking place to the blaring sound of Henry Hall & His Orchestra – The Teddy Bear’s Picnic would be most surreal.] Class struggle – just what is the bottle? A Coca Cola or a Cockburn’s Port? Trying to imagine what the protest might be about: descendants of bear-baiting victims taking revenge? Bears that don’t want forceful relocation back into the wild? [“Hey we had three square meals a day and a roof over our heads, now they want us to fend for ourselves! But where? The bastards have chopped all the forests down! And a cave to hibernate in, we’d be so lucky!”] Disgruntled sports mascots/children’s entertainers/charity street collectors/fast food chain leafleters [I assume they have their own section of Equity – the British actors’ union] complaining about working conditions?

Given the erosion of public rights regarding protest in the 21st Century [seemingly only the extremes of ‘civil war’, think Arab Spring, or an ‘angry’ phone call/email to a chat show are permissible these days?] one might be tempted to make banners branded “Whither Democracy”, but then where would one display them?

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