Friday, November 23, 2012

Spectacular Power

Last week, during Operation Kill A Bunch of Palestinians To Crush Their Resilience and Gain Political Capital Pillar of Clouds, a bunch of attention was paid to the fact that the IDF basically declared war via Twitter, and was soon met by opposing tweets from Hamas' Al Qassam Brigades. In all the analysis, I didn't see anyone mention that this "Twitter war" occurred entirely in English: that the conversation was not between Hamas and the IDF, but rather them and their respective global audiences, but no matter. The point is, both the IDF and Hamas used Twitter as a platform to project their power: it became a field of actual political contention.

Now, as the Walmart Black Friday protests are here, Walmart is turning to Twitter to display their power. And while these tweets will not be seen by nearly as many people, they are a much more effective deployment of spectacular power then the IDF's sputtering. First of all, the official Walmart twitter accounts say nothing about the 1000s of actions happening around the country. Instead they're tweeting things like this, which was sent out just before midnight:

The image is vertiginous, people and signs stretching all the way to the horizon, the foregrounded black shoppers, the harsh, bright glare that obliterates the night we know is beyond it, a night referenced in the text but completely invisible within the image it describes, the easy mix of chaos and orderliness. How could a bunch of striking workers ever fight that?

And what of those workers? Despite the hypocritical shout-out to "associates", the very people who hope to ruin Walmart's Black Friday because of how it has made them invisible are not pictured here, they are, once again, invisible. This tweet, this image is made to crush their struggle, to make their victory seem impossible, to make Walmart's power seem as endless as their store.

If you can, go out today and act in solidarity with the people this picture and its makers would like to eliminate.

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