Contemporary Political Action - Political Science Research Paper

Contemporary Political Action - Political Science Research Paper

This project presents the research proposal “Mediactivism and the carnivalization of protest in contemporary political action”. By this, I intend to draw a panorama of recent political activism in various parts of the world, highlighting some vertentes of this activist wave in which we can see the choice for dramatized, spectacular, carnivalized or “fun” political manifestations. Drawing from this panorama, we can start an analysis of the groups who practice this particular form of protest and what leads them to do that.

Hypothetically, media comes as an important factor for these new types of protest manifestations. Contemporary activism seems to be strongly media-directed: groups prepare media manuals (inserir nota sobre media manuals que eu conheço), organize to record, edit and divulge manifestations videos, e assumem configurações which subvert marketing, propaganda and public relations techniques for their cause. As it is put by Luca Casarini, spokesman for the Italian group Tute Bianche,

We know what we need to make people talk about us (...) We use the winning languages, the ones that reach people. Hollywood doesn’t win by chance. This is the communications society. We can’t ignore the codes. (PEDEMONTE, 2001: 12-13) (nota de rodapé: adapted from the portuguese version)

Proceeding on the hypothesis, pranksterism comes as part of this media-centered activist culture. The laugh, the subversion, the debauchery, the prank – they all come, hypothetically, as adaptations of one of the fundamental logics of media: diversion. To draw the attention of viewers, media must constantly afastar-se do cotidiano, do corriqueiro, from the usual business of everyday life. This is not to say that the point of media is to entertain, but to create new, and more dramatized, ambiences to represent the world.

The political prank is fundamentally a rupture with all convictions about political action. It goes against seriousness, it goes against violence (not only physical violence, but the violence contained as well in speeches, in acts of discourse), it goes against the preconceived notions about the “revolucionário” who hides his face, carries guns and confronts the police with molotovs or rocks. Media may have a part in this too: as well as it serves as a watchdog of state repression, it would go against the violence in activist manifestations.

(falar sobre atenção que o novo ativismo recebe)
John Downing (2002), Michael Hardt e Antonio Negri (2001), John Holloway (2003), Harry Cleaver (1997, 1998), Slavoj Zizek (2003), Antonio Albino Canelas Rubim (1997, 2001, 2001b), Maria da Glória Gohn (2002, 2003) e Nicolau Sevcenko (2001, 2002),
Naomi Klein Sem Logo (1999) e Cercas e Janelas (2003)
George Monbiot (2004), Paul Kingsnorth (2003) e José Chrispiniano (2002), Christophe Aguiton (2002), Kalle Lasn (2000), José Bové (2001)
Campanhas publicitárias
Jogos (State of Emergency)
Música (Rage Against the Machine, System of a Down, Atari Teenage Riot)
Ficção (Cosmópolis, The Dreamers)
Documentários (Michael Moore, The Corporation, The Take, The Weather Underground, The Fog of War)

This making of a new world is a serious business. If we can’t laugh, the world we make will be square, and we won’t be able to turn it. (Subcomandante Marcos, quoted by KINGSNORTH: 2003: 28)

como um radicalismo revigorado , “o maior movimento global da história” (MONBIOT, 2004: 20), “novas, efetivas e urgentes condições de luta pela democracia” (SEVCENKO, 2002: 12) e “a emergência de uma rebelião global sem precedentes” (NOTES FROM NOWHERE, 2003: 14).
It’s not a revolution in the sense that the twentieth century has taught us to understand the word: not a massing of red flags this time, not a determination to seize the state, not a gathering of Peoples’ Parties with blueprints for a new Utopia. (KINGSNORTH, 2004: online)
I know so many different techniques that make it look like the whole ad was reprinted with its new message, as opposed to somebody coming at it with a spray-paint can. (…) The technology allows us to use Madison Avenue aesthetics agains itself. That is the most important aspect of this new wave of people using the guerilla tactic, because that’s what the MTV generation has become accostumed to – everything’s flashy, everything’s bright and clean. If you spend time to make it cleaner it will not be dismissed.” (KLEIN, 1999: 285-286)
It’s mostly nuts and bolts of media for activists: how to write a good press release; how to flack your story; how to identify and develop friendly media ties. But the most important thing we teach is how to distill very complex campaign themes into very simple messages, that can pass through the filter of corporate-controlled media and still make it out the other side into the homes of the American or global public, in a form that you would still consider effective – and can begin to create the political will we need to turn these things around. (SELLERS, 2001: 75)
(Journalists love fun stories, just like everyone else. The more fun the story, the more likely it is to get covered.) (RTMARK poster)

(colocar naquela apresentação inicial menções ao bloco medieval e ao trabalho com o cachimbo do cara da Dinamarca)

This outline is only a pre-presentation of my research problem. It was prepaired only as a solicitation for making appointments with members of the research staff. I have no intention of applying to the course for this year, and possibly not for 2006 as well, as I am still finishing my MA in Communications Science. When I have real intention of applying to the course, I will surely prepare a much better and aprofundada research proposal.


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