W. Kamau Bell: "Stop Talking Shit About the Occupy Movement"

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Me and my socio-political stand-up comedy crew, Laughter Against The Machine, just finished our first national tour. Collectively we went to six Occupations, in New Orleans, Portland, New York, D.C., and San Francisco. And I would like to make a request of you. Stop talking shit about the Occupy Wall Street Movement.

Okay, maybe you're not talking shit about it. Maybe you support it whole-heartedly. Maybe you sleep there, blog, Tweet, Facebook, LiveJournal, go to rallies and protest to show your support of it. Maybe this is hard for you to read because you have tear gas in your eyes. If any of that is true, thank you.

But If you are like many of the people I've seen on my Twitter feed and Facebook news feed then you are sitting in the safe confines of the Internet, one of the most cowardly places on Earth, and you are having a snarkfest. Snark being the lowest form of communication, right below drunken frat boys who scream, "Wooooooooooo!" for no reason.

Hating Occupy is the new Hating Sarah Palin. But there is a difference: One is worthy of your scorn whereas the other could use your help. It's amazing and depressing to me how many cool people I know who are spitting back the major media's talking points about Occupy like they are being paid by CNN. These are the three most common "points."

"The agenda of the occupy movement is unclear."
It's only unclear if you aren't listening, or if you are one of those people who can hold only one idea in your head at a time. Admittedly, Occupy has a diverse set of goals. Because it turns out that when nearly everything is fucked up, nearly everything needs fixing. And, thankfully, there is a sign somewhere out there for everything.

"Well fine, but what happens next?"
If you're wondering about what happens next after the encampments, why not get out there and help them figure that out. You don't even have to leave your home -- if you are lucky enough to still have one. Just channel that snark into actual suggestions and ideas. If not, then you are no better than the Wall Streeters and politicians who got us into this in the first place. ... Okay, maybe you are slightly better, but I don't want to sit next to either of you on a plane.

"Michael Moore is an opportunistic, millionaire, blah blah blah..."
I immediately tune out when people start to put down any of the more famous and notable people who have shown up at the encampments. It's not that I even agree with everything Michael Moore says or that I think Kanye West showing up is the modern equivalent of the cavalry, but at least they are trying, while comparatively speaking, your resume is a blank piece of paper. Instead of getting your Internetic rocks off talking smack about a celebrity's involvement, get up off your fat brain and DO SOMETHING PRODUCTIVE!

Everything doesn't always have to be everything. Some things lead to other things. Many people criticized Martin Luther King Jr. before the March on Washington, because he didn't have concrete "asks" of the government. "You're gonna march on Washington? Then what? You're gonna give a speech??? That had better be a great speech."

Well, it was a great speech. And it inspired many to grow up and work hard to make the world a better place, even though the speech didn't actually DO anything. We are --- hopefully, with your help --- at the very beginning of where all the awesome Occupations lead.

Because all I know is that when I see white people regularly yelling at police officers, then something good is happening. I know it is easy to be snarktastic, but why do it with the Occupy Movement? There are plenty of things to snark about that don't involve the oppression of the poor. Do yourself a favor. Be on the right side of history.

------
Kamau's Komedy Korner is a weekly an occasional blog column about San Francisco comedy and culture by W. Kamau Bell.

Follow W. Kamau Bell on Twitter at @wkamaubell, SF Weekly's Exhibitionist blog @ExhibitionistSF and like us on Facebook.

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65 comments
helpdesk76
helpdesk76

So what happened to all of that OWS stuff that you used to hear about and see on television?  Did the 99% win or lose?  If a rifle can be considered an assault weapon, then what is considered a non assault weapon?  MSNBC confuses me because I follow what they say on television but the real world seems to be a totally different story.

wal_martian
wal_martian

just another untalented cultural marxist idiot

what has he accomplished?

nothing

all of his jokes are unfunny racist turds that any black comic worth his salt would shitcan

and lol at his support of the occu-cry movement

just a bunch of loser cultural marxists that were born failures and still are

w kamau KAMBON fits in nicely and i can see why he identifies with this bowel movement

Terisa Rogatz
Terisa Rogatz

Measurable, obtainable, timely, realistic goals:

Get someone approved to head up the Consumer Protection Agency.  Repubs are blocking this one with the disproven argument that more regulation stifles the "job-creators."

Put an end to corporate "personhood" and get tight limits on corporate PACs and special-interest money in politics.  I'd personally like to see all candidates start out with an equal amount of federally-provided money.  Then we'll REALLY see how they can manage a budget!

That's a start anyway, and I think those are goals that most Occupiers would agree on.

Gazarificus Waldinger
Gazarificus Waldinger

I applaud the movements' right to voice their anger at the current divide of the have and have nots. This is a something that needs to be in the public forum. Having many messages shows there are many issues. The moment currently lacks a focused push to create change vs the emotional lash out it appears to be. Businesses near these protests already hurting from the troubled economy have been double slammed protesters who feel entitled. And its not ALL the protesters but things fall into a mob mentality which ends up defining the group. The reality is, its bigger than "Wall Street" which is easy to villify as a culture exemplifies the greed and indifference and the desire for profit. Everyone that buys into the entitlement of the "American Dream" has a hand in current state of affairs. This even carries over to other countries (Insert nation)'s Dream. There is no easy solution if there is even one, but there is a lack of "taking stock" of what led us to this point.

Ian_Smith
Ian_Smith

Eat shit, libtard.  The "Occupy" bowel movement is fucking retarded.

Miranda Geelen
Miranda Geelen

This is the kind of moronic, uninformed, anonymous statement that makes you look like a complete fucktard, not matter what side of the you take. If you don't have any substance to your argument, no one believes you actually know anything. A statement like this hurts your side more then helps. And for you personally, do you really think you have an opinion if you can't defend with anything but ignorant rude comments like this. You can call anything fucking retarded and put toilet humor into it, doesn't mean you are right. "The "Women's equality" bowel movement is fucking retarded.""The "Black rights" bowel movement is fucking retarded."

I may not agree with your opinions, but I agree with the right to have them. Just, for the sake of humanity, at least have a rational defense for your opinions. 

Goldbrad7
Goldbrad7

I think that it is rude to compare this movement to "Black rights" and "Women's equality".  Both of those movements had pretty clear agendas.  Who are we fighting for here?  Who is being treated unequally?  Back then women and blacks didn't have the same rights as white males.  That is no longer true.  Who is being oppressed here?  I do agree that this country is being run into the ground financially.  And maybe the best way to fix that is to have a complete overhaul of the system and who is in charge.  Maybe the best way to do this is by revolution.  Maybe the OWS is the beginning of that revolution.  Let's keep this in perspective though.  For the most part if you work hard in this country you can find a job and make a living.  That's a lot more than other countries/regions can say.

Corruption does exist in our system.  Corporations do control politicians.  Is this what we're mad about?  I guess so.  I don't like to hear that.  How do we fix that?  Anarchy is a scary thing.  Do we really want to overhaul the system with no agenda in place?  I think the constitution is a great place to start.  Let's vote for Ron Paul and see where we go from there.  To those of you in the streets: Keep voicing your opinion.  To those of you in the cubicles: If your fine with your current position keep on livin.

pj
pj

Brillant!

m colby
m colby

Talking shit on the internet about people talking shit on the internet.... 

Goldbrad7
Goldbrad7

That's exactly what he's doing isn't it?!

Flatiron
Flatiron

The fact that occupy Wall Atreet is funded by George Soros tells me everything I need to know therefore I do not support it.

Rick
Rick

It's not... and that's a totally ad hominem argument anyway.  Shame on you.

W. Kamau Bell
W. Kamau Bell

I hate it when clearly intelligent people act dumb just so they can "prove" their point. #YouAreWorseThanRegularOldDumbPeople

Ashley Bell
Ashley Bell

"Because all I know is that when I see white people regularly yelling at police officers then something good is happenying"

a very accurate litmus test.

AllegraRingo
AllegraRingo

Thanks for addressing this brand of naysayer in such a smart way. I see this kind of thing all over my Facebook feed, and it drives me nuts. I don't know how people can make statements like the ones you addressed ("it's unfocused," "what happens next," etc.) in light of, you know, every major social movement in recent history. Honestly, you have to work harder to ignore all of these historical examples than to crack a damn book and learn how social movements work.

PJ
PJ

Hey Kamau, Nice article. I have two things to add. One is that if the occupy movement comes up with "even one" demand then immediately a process of negotiation begins. The powers that be grant a watered down version of the one demand, then everyone is expected to go home. The other, which I haven't heard people address is that really the only point I see in all of this is that the occupy movement is simply showing  that democracy can work. People live in the camps. People go to the general assembly, meet each other, debate each other and vote. The people at the occupy camps are not perfect, and shouldn't be expected to be. The democratic process is not for perfect, non-hypocritical people only, its for all of us regular flawed people who live together in this country. But at least there is an attempt at the occupy camps to have a democracy. Its sure a shit ton better the what our two dominate political parties give us. We don't need a revolution, we just need to take our democracy back from the corporations.  

Brandon Van Every
Brandon Van Every

"One is that if the occupy movement comes up with "even one" demand then immediately a process of negotiation begins. The powers that be grant a watered down version of the one demand, then everyone is expected to go home."

So what?  You expect, they expect.  In life you don't get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate.  Hey look here they are again, somewhere else, demanding something else.  You think once some group goes on strike, no group can ever go on strike again?  No Congressional law is ever overturned?

"Watered down" is democratic compromise.  Democracy is getting your say, not your way.  Almost by definition 50% of the people out there don't agree with you, so short of establishing your own dictatorship, what do you expect?  The reason the Supercommittee just failed is because they refused to compromise.

pj
pj

Sure, your right anyone has a right to go on strike, protest whatever. By the same token, Occupy is not required to make specific demands. You seem to be purposely trying NOT to understand what I'm saying. I'm talking about the media and societal pressure (from the right mostly, and wimpy sold out democrats) to force THIS particular movement to give up and go home.  

prairiewoman
prairiewoman

White, male, eurocentric thinking created this mess. White, male, eurocentric thinking is not going to get us out of it. Black, latino, Indian, and feminist perspectives on the Occupy movement are extremely enlightening.

Me
Me

Yet the author is BLACK.  Your fail is suckingly HUGE.

Gregory Ries
Gregory Ries

I'm getting incredibly sick of hearing people snarking about the Occupiers lack of personal hygiene. Writing the whole thing off with a comment like "dirty hippies!" Seriously!?!? That's your response? So lame!

Rachel Kantstopdaphunk
Rachel Kantstopdaphunk

I disagree wholeheartedly. I just had a long ass discussion with my little brother about why he thinks its lefties like me who 'tear apart' the movement. Some of us are offering valid critiques, some of us are explaining why certain people from certain backgrounds might not just jump out into the streets. Some of us do our best work elsewhere. Some of us are effective elsewhere. Some of us are too old and cranky to put up with the noise. Some of us don't feel like we can get behind that deal %100. 

Here's why I'm not at occupy. I'm 34, and a grad student and I still have a job. I'm not out there because I got rent to pay, and a thesis to write. I'm not out there b/c I'm not hearing from OWS any kind of critical understanding that in fact, they do not represent me. That there are quite a few of us who don't feel represented. Indigenous folk have talked about not liking the language of occupation, poor folk have talked about privilege around class and women and people of color have talked about being insulted by unthinkingly racist and sexist language and actions. I'm not out there, bc OWS doesn't represent me, they have literally no idea who and what I am.

 I'm a queer woman, a radical feminist, and someone who came up real poor and real hungry. I'm not gonna camp in the mofuckin streets b/c my experience of camping as a child was what you did when you got evicted (again). Its kinda like how my food activist buddies think I'm stodgy for not wanting to dumpster dive but fail to hear how when I was teeny tiny my dad used to put me *inside* dumpsters to hand stuff to him.  If you know anything I won't have to tell you how growing up poor, smallish and girl shaped made me a walking target for predators. Therefore I won't have to explain why I'm so insanely uncomfortable with reports of women being harassed and with "official" policies at some occupy sites *discouraging* women from reporting threats/harrassment from male 'colleagues' and asking them to handle it as a collective. There is a reason why some of us are not out there.  We shouldn't be asked to uniformy support something that has yet to articulate what it even **is** precisely, much less begun to articulate what it would look like to build a safe space for women, queer folks, and poc.

I know that there are also folks from each of these groups who do feel ok in these spaces, or who feel like some work needs to be done but they're prepared to do it. Good for them. I'm not one of them.

And I'm not saying that some coalition bldg can't happen, or some responses occur. I do feel like I've seen some positive responses. OWS put up a womens tent, before the eviction, some of the issues were starting to be addressed. A critique isnt a way of saying, 'screw you, you suck' its a way of saying 'my support has certain preconditions that must be met' and in the end, its an opportunity. Its a chance to examine why your message is hitting home w some and not so much w others.

Me
Me

you don't get it.   We understand that.   Thanks for making that painfully clear in 1000 words, next time just say "I don't get it, thank you".

A.
A.

I understand where you are coming from Rachel.  You cannot get on board because you feel that OWS doesn't represent you.  I have a suggestion  Show up, make your voice heard and your issues known!  that is how you get YOU to be represented.  I too am a grad student, in my 30's, female with a long list of identifications.  At the Occupation in my city, I show up when I can, I participate when I can, I learn what I can and I become informed so I can add my voice to a movement so that MY voice and my experience and my life and be represented.  You seem to have had an interesting up bringing/life and those experiences can be helpful to others...but you have to share your stories and your voice. 

W. Kamau Bell
W. Kamau Bell

A critique is different from snark. I'm talking about snark. I'm in full support of constructive critique. You are an intelligent person. You know that I drew that distinction. You just wanted to write your own blog under my blog.

Steve
Steve

I didn't get that distiction at all from your blog.  From your blog it sounded like you were saying that anyone who doesn't join Occupy and completely agree with you is a fool and wrong.

Rachel Kantstopdaphunk
Rachel Kantstopdaphunk

haha, yeah, that's true.  But also I've had hecka fools get on me recently about why I'm not out there or into it %100. The thing is, *you* get that offering a critique isn't shit talking, most of my friends who are hassling me don't get that really, or maybe that's just my idiot brother. And that's a symptom. I think there ought to be a broader understanding of 'qualified support' as support. Oh, and I already have a blog. Its http://frugal-femme.blogspot.c...  stop by if you wanna learn how to make a cocktail hat from scratch. My latest post details how I turned myself and my lady into Zombies using Mac makeup. Not just anyone can do that. :)

Chuff
Chuff

"Because it turns out that when nearly everything is fucked up nearly everything needs fixing. And, thankfully, there is a sign somewhere out there for everything."

This sentence is the exact reason many people don't get the Occupy Movement.  If the goal is to address  every problem, everywhere, while offering no solutions for anything that fit within the Constitution (which from the outside it what it looks like), then the majority of Americans will continue to ignore it as being a fringe movement. 

How about getting together and stating just one thing that you want accomplished.  One thing.  "Economic Equality" is an idea, not a demand.  Offer no solutions, get no solutions.

Anon
Anon

How about you offer a solution?

Homer
Homer

His solution is the status quo.

Cecilia Rodriguez
Cecilia Rodriguez

What solutions are there for a country trillions of dollars in debt, for states with bankrupt coffers, for families without health insurance, for displaced workers?  Do you honestly think you can "craft" a simple solution, when you have a decision-making body (Congress) so polarized and out of touch with reality that the only thing they can agree on is to postpone things?  The Occupy Movement does not solely have the responsibility to "come up" with a solution.  You're a resident of this country, what are your solutions?  Occupy your own civic goals, your own aspirations for the future, your own values--this foundational commitment is what brings about change, not slogans on a placard, or a single march or demonstration. I am grateful that Occupiers have made a broad loud dramatic call to conscience--because the country crumbling around us didn't

J Breidenbach
J Breidenbach

Cecilia, I'm creating an account just to rain down praise. This is fucking amazing.

W. Kamau Bell
W. Kamau Bell

Since you don't have a name or an actual picture, I am forced to assume that you are a spambot. So no, I don't want to know where I can meet millionaires online. But thanks.

Ashley Bell
Ashley Bell

The institutions being "protested" use this "lack of focus" critisism to pretend that they don't know what the problem is and then sell ithis spin to what would normally have been a supportive general public. As long as jerks in charge claim to not understand the problem, they feel free to ignore it. And why should the protesters offer the solutions? As if the fucks in power would actually impliment them if offered. We're talking about tax codes and bills that need to be approved by congress. The protesters can't do that. Congress does that. The protesters are telling congress to do their fucking jobs! why so hard for so many. We are not the enemy dammit!

Harriet
Harriet

"All I know is that when I see white people regularly yelling at police officers then something good is happening"

Brianne
Brianne

"It's amazing and depressing to me how many cool people I know who are spitting back the major media's talking points about Occupy like they are being paid by CNN"I realized how many of my friends can't think for themselves. Thanks for this.

Ashley Bell
Ashley Bell

Yeah...WTF is THAT? People who I would have imagined 100% supportive of OWS are toeing the party line. People who hate this movement hate it because there is no central power head to attack...This is it's very power.

Liusan
Liusan

"Because all I know is that when I see white people regularly yelling at police officers then something good is happening."

Took em long enough!

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