Millions of protesters accumulated in 450 cities across the world on November the 5th 2013. In the UK, New Zealand, Australia, Japan and America, protests against austerity cuts, greed, global corruption, the increase in public surveillance (amongst many more current issues) took place. The UK media seemingly overlooked these “sporadic little gatherings”, preferring to produce front-page stories about “Invasion of the mutant killer rats” (Daily Star) and “Towering Stupidity: Brit teenagers wear 9/11 fancy dress… and win” (The Sun).
While other newspapers covered more pressing issues, such as fake cancer records and MP’s using political contacts to set up business deals, the Million Mask March was apparently obsolete or unimportant before the eyes of media distributors throughout the nation. Although mentioned in brief detail by various news stations, articles that represented the international “millions” as mere national “hundreds” contributed in demeaning the messages that this Anonymous Million Mask group sought to raise awareness for. In the coverage that was produced, many pictures and video footage that focused on scuffles, abusive chants and anti-social behaviour was reported, highlighting only the negative aspects to an otherwise peaceful protest.
Amongst protesters, there is an outrage over the lack of attention that the global marches received in the public media who, in the few cases of reporting on the protesters at all, belittled their intentions by scrutinising the public disturbances, rather than the political and economic injustices taking place in today’s world.
But… Protesters, why is this surprising?
In an age where politics, economics and the media are part of a well-knit network (largely concerned with profit), it is ridiculous to assume that all of the sectors mentioned would support or highlight the concerns of an activist group that threaten to dismantle the very platform that they stand upon. It is of greater interest to them (the all-powerful 1%) to protect the system that they benefit from and, in doing so, portray the masked multitude of millions that oppose them, as “hundreds of anti-social hoodlums”.
In many articles, fireworks aimed at Buckingham Palace, police scuffles with hooded, masked rebels and bonfires made on the pavement, are easily-highlighted and warped aspects of the march. These occurrences allow the media to turn an intentionally peaceful, thought-provoking group of people, into an inconvenient nuisance of mobsters that are more reminiscent of the London Riots than anything socially, politically or economically challenging.
Perhaps instead of meeting once a year to chant, uphold signs and protest against handfuls of different issues, it may be more effective to form small, like-minded groups to perform creative ways of drawing attention to the institutions you seek to challenge.
Yes, the media should cover issues of political, economic and social injustice, even if it shakes the foundations that they are founded upon. Yet, an annual march that represents a massive unorganised and widespread plethora of forward-thinking ideas, whilst having the right intentions, may not be the most effective method of protest.
I support freedom of speech, innovative action and social consciousness. Perhaps, though, a better idea to combat banker’s bonuses than becoming lost in an annual march, would be to dress up as your least-favourite, fat-cat banker or politician and commence a hunger strike outside 10 Downing Street.
Just a thought.