17 June 2011
From: "michael gurstein" <gurstein[at]gmail.com>
To: "Nettime-L" <nettime-l[at]kein.org>
Date: Thu, 16 Jun 2011 11:57:36 -0700
Subject: <nettime> Riot as Performance Art
Datapoints re: the Hockey Riot in Vancouver observed after the game finished
for about an hour.
1. The gender ratio was roughly 50-50.
2. Women seemed as aggressive as men.
3. At least half the folks had cameras of one sort or another and were constantly
4. The crowd overall was cheerful.
5. Lots of alcohol and marijuana but not a lot of falling down drunk people.
6. Almost no one was covering their faces.
What does that sound like. To me it seems rather more like a concert
audience than the makeup of a serious riot.
I think the key things though was the gender equality, the cameras, the general
good cheer and the uncovered faces.
What made this different from a rock concert was the presence of the police.
They were costumed differently from normal rock concert security-kitted up
in riot gear complete with black uniforms, shields, weapons etc.etc.
But nor was this Seattle, the G20 Toronto or Tahir Square. These folks
weren't afraid of being seen and recognized, they were going out of their
way to be recognized and they wanted that recognition, captured and presumably
re-presented to the world via SMS, Facebook or Youtube and the tv news.
This wasn't a riot. It was a performance with much of the violence as far
as I could see it being done for photo capture and transmission rather than
out of deviltry, rage or simple youthful destructiveness. On one of
the news shows a reporter passed along a story that the original truck which
was burned near the hockey rink had been deliberately brought to the site
and left exposed there so that it could be torched should the Canucks lose.
What is televised will not be the revolution.
[Michael Gurstein, June 17, 2011]
A couple of futher points...
As several of the commentators on your most interesting blogpost noted, I
don't think the "riot" had very much to do with the game/loss/Canucks...
My guess is that it would have happened in much the same way had the Canucks
won although the age demographic might have shifted slightly with more older
folks going into the streets (and then rapidly retreating...
Also, the set pieces with the police--them attacking and folks
running/resisting/fighting was most certainly "spectacle". However, the role
of cameras and their links into broader FB/SMS/Youtube distribution-- the
posing, the self-posing, the staging and so on and so on was I think, a very
significant (new) element broadening out the notion of the spectacle -- this
wasn't just about the gaze it was equally about the self-regard involved
in taking a totally exposed (to the world) picture of yourself with a cell
phone in front of a burning police car (the half page size picture on the
Vancouver section of the nationa newspaper -- the Globe and Mail). It is
"spectacle" but I think a good deal more.