Protest chants are really fascinating to me. They are at the intersection of targeted marketing and crowd dynamics, in that they can only become popular if they’re catchy and succinct, but they need to communicate a clear message. Some of the standards of the Occupy Wall Street movement seem to be growing stale, though. We’ve got:
- “We…are…the nine-ty-nine per-cent!”
- “The whole world is watch-ing!”
- “Whose streets??” “Our streets!”
- “Hey hey! Ho ho! Corporate greed has got to go!”
As you see in the video, when the chant changed from “The whole world is watching” to “Stop beating students!” The police stopped. I think calling attention to police brutality in this simple format was extraordinarily effective. I think there are clever people who could create some really fantastic chants that could become really popular and influential. Chants need to be simple, and they need to communicate a clear and tactical message. How about “Stop beating journalists”? What better way to get the mainstream media on your side than to call out the mistreatment of their colleagues? And really, in this age of new media, anyone can be a journalist. And I’m sure the creative people at Occupy Wall Street and other occupations around the country can come up with other great chants to use. We need them; I feel like the old standards are good, but overused, and there’s opportunity for so much more.
There are also many good chants I haven’t heard, so please, fill me in!