6 Heroes Who Took on The Power Elite, and Won Big
By Scott Thill, AlterNet
Posted on October 19, 2011, Printed on October 23, 2011
True-school underdogs transcend barriers with irresistible narratives of overcoming ludicrous obstacles placed before them by the powers-that-be. This is not to say that they can't come, like Barack Obama, from
In fact, their narratives are often so powerful that the mainstream media comes to them. So let us dispense with the media's hyperreal electives and celebrate the triumphs of real-time underdogs sticking it to the powers-that-be in increasingly persuasive, and reported, ways and means. Starting with an insurrection taking place in the powers-that-be's back yard.
Occupy Wall Street
This much-needed grass-roots pushback against unrestrained high-flying trader graft, bonuses, bailouts and swaps stratagems started on September 17, with a paltry crowd of 1,000 concerned citizens. Originally proposed by the non-profit Adbusters and enhanced by hacktivist pranksters Anonymous, Occupy Wall Street struggled for recognition from a mainstream media more addicted to fake grass-roots demonstrations featuring angry whites bankrolled by Republican vultures like Koch Industries and like-minded parties. Despite the fact that the protests drew high-profile support from Noam Chomsky, Naomi Klein, Roseanne Barr, Lupe Fiasco, Keith Olbermann and other conscientious cultural figures, it wasn't really until the New York Police Department arrested over 80 individuals ,and its repeat civil-rights offender Anthony Bologna maced a bunch of penned-in women in the face. that the activist blowback to rampant bankster corruption caught serious fire. Thanks to the mindless militarism of the police, the protests have the media coverage they want to go along with the ideological logic they already had, and Occupy Wall Street promises to go further viral across the
Speaking of financial havoc, take the case of the unassuming California painter Alex Schaefer, who once worked in texture mapping, modeling and lighting in the videogame industry, before turning his attention to painting full-time three years ago. In June, Schaefer began a series of paintings featuring banks on fire, which soon began to result in visits from police officers and plainclothes detectives trying to ascertain if he was a terrorist. Schaefer, who's never had any run-ins with law enforcement and whose own accounts are held at a local community bank, shrugged it off while setting up shop at branches at various locations in
While we're on the subject of merciless bloodsuckers, have you heard the one about the vampire that beat Wells Fargo? It's a timesuck, and goes a little something like this.
Warren and Maureen Nyerges
The Colbert Report was soon matched in hyperreal hilarity by The Daily Show, whose reporter John Oliver reported the curious case of Warren and Maureen Nyerges, who like Rodgers were unfairly targeted by banks playing games well out of their league. When the increasingly toxic Bank of America foreclosed on the Florida-based Nyerges, they were suitably shocked, given they had already paid cash for their house and didn't actually own a mortgage. Despite this glaring accounting error, not a single lawyer would take their case, save for a rookie named Todd Allen, who had been practicing law for a mere eight months. A judge demanded that Bank of America pay the Nyerges' legal fees, to no avail. So together with Allen, the Nyerges hired a two fully stoked repo men to repair to their local Bank of America branch and -- as Oliver so breathlessly shouted in Times Square, and even a Kid Rock concert, during his riotous Daily Show segment "The Forecloser" -- proceed to "foreclose on a muthafucking bank!" For those who, unlike Bank of America, are good at math, that's three underdogs who got the last laugh. They're probably still laughing: As of this writing, Bank of America's stock price was barely hovering over $6, has lost over 50 percent of its value during this year and well over 85 percent in the last five years. Chances are pretty good that the Nyerges will still be in their paid house by the time Bank of America likely goes bankrupt this decade.
In early September,
Finally one that some may find a cheat. After all, four principals in Sweden's lawsuit-plagued The Pirate Bay, which describes itself as "the world's most resilient bittorrent site," were charged in 2009 with breaching copyright law, sentenced to a year in prison and fined 30 million kronor, or about $3.5 million American dollars. Yet the increasingly popular file-sharing, ahem, magnet-linking site is still up and running, and celebrated its eighth anniversary in September. A much-needed middle-finger to last century's dinosaur media ecosystem, The Pirate Bay gives those who can handle the comparatively simple task of learning how to download and view torrents -- which are basically sliced and diced online text, audio and video files assembled in meshed bits on networks across the globe -- the opportunity to watch what they want, when they want, for free, and almost always with no commercials for crap they probably shouldn't be buying in the first place.
Plenty of artists, officials and other critics crow, but not about the technological innovation itself. Every major media player has outfitted itself with its own internet marketing and file-sharing systems, now that downloads have indisputably become the new century's de facto distribution model. No, what they really want is to control the programming and its delivery. Bit-torrent champions like The Pirate Bay are not only putting the lie to that ecosystem, they're surviving what should be death-blows on the way to a decade in existence. Even better, the
Scott Thill runs the online mag Morphizm.com. His writing has appeared on Salon, XLR8R, All Music Guide, Wired and others.
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"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs