Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Power Of Suggestion

Remember this billboard? Perhaps it was her Fluxus background but Yoko Ono really knew a thing or two about the power of suggestion and vibrant subtlety. I've been thinking about this billboard a lot lately- and of course its subsequent follow-ups. I guess its cause I wish that the current dialogue on health care and the economy and just about everything had a bit more visualization of positive opportunity. For instance, there seems to be a lot of talk on the right about all the terrible things that could go wrong with health care - over crowded hospitals, killing grandparents, mandatory abortions and sex change name it they've brought it up. Meanwhile, though its great that Jon Stewart, Rachel Maddow, and a few other press people are trying to discredit these fears, I think it could be really great to have some media outlets that are showing all the great things that could happen if we did have comprehensive universal healthcare. Envision not having to fight for hours on the phone with your insurance company, not losing your house cause you can't pay for your injury, being able to concentrate on your actual health instead of your bills. For most people, just not having to fear that their kids will get hurt or sick would be a really big one. If the president didn't have to spend all his time exposing the lies perhaps he could paint us a great picture of how great things could be. Perhaps this is a hippie dippieish idea that is hard to convey these days but when you think about it the hippies actually got a lot done by pushing dreams - it seemed to work better than the middle of the road tentativeness that we're using today.

Recently there have been a handful of dudes who have been using the power of suggestion to let us peer into better worlds. The Yes Men have been mixing it up again with their recent action replacing The New York Post with their version, an issue that showed what NY would be like if we don't deal with global warming. The Yes Men are known for posing as spokespeople for huge organizations such as The World Trade Organization, McDonalds, Dow Chemical, the United States Dept. of Housing and Urban Development. In 2004 Andy Bichlbaum posed as a Dow Chemical spokesperson on the BBC to officially apologize for the Bohpal disaster and say that the company would be paying for clean up and medical care for the victims. In 2006 at the New Orleans Housing Summit they posed as HUD spokesmen and said that they had decided against tearing down the public housing facilities and would instead be repairing them and providing mixed income housing. These are just a few stunts they've pulled but in each case they manage to make the company or organization look like an idiot and the actual residents feel empowered by watching their oppressors faced with what should be the right choice. Anyhow, there's a new movie coming out about their actions...

Another guy whose not afraid to tell it like it should be is Ralph Nader whose new book Only The Super Rich Can Save Us is a work of fiction that manages to be over 700 pages ("a great doorstop" as he put it) and works as a vision of what could happen if
"17 billionaires and super-rich people really put their minds to it, along with a parrot, and took on the existing business power bloc and the politicians in Washington who serve it"

The book features real life super rich such as Warren Buffett and Ted Turner to Bill Cosby and Yoko Ono. Like what happen if Warren Beatty ran against Schwarzenegger for California Governor and won? Reviews have been saying that the book works as a how to on turning our country around, and I imagine not in a very subtle manner since this is Nader we're talking about. I wish more media, books, movies, politicians worked this way so that we had a somewhat instruction guide on how not to repeat the mistakes we seem to make over and over again. While I guess the point could be argued, I think its pretty awesome that this book doesn't leave our fate in the hands of the proletariat -they're a bit distracted with trying to stay employed and not loose their house. As Nader pointed out on Democracy Now this week, no change was ever made without full time paid activists and huge funding by those who have the money to spare.

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