Uncover the power and perils of performance art in politics. Explore the impact of selfies, workout videos, and staged spectacles on public discourse and the true role of politicians. Let's prioritize substance over showmanship.
In the bustling marketplace of Twitter, where every tweet can ignite a wildfire of debate, Joey Mannarino's comment on Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's (AOC) selfie has done just that. By labeling it as a 'basic bitch' selfie, he has flung open a Pandora's box of discussions, and, of course, an avalanche of memes.
AOC, a public servant, is no stranger to the public eye. When she shared a picture of herself, she wasn't merely sharing a moment of her life; she was making a statement, intentional or not. Now, whether that statement was "Live a healthy lifestyle" or "I'm just like you," is up for debate. But one thing is clear: her looks are now a topic of discussion, just like her politics. And let's be honest, she tries to put a pretty face on some positions that many find deeply troubling. For instance, hinting that impeachment should be on the table for Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) justices because she doesn't agree with their originalist interpretation of the constitution.
Now, let's take a moment to talk about Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (RFK). A picture of him shirtless and working out went viral, but the circumstances were different. He didn't take the selfie, post it online, and caption it "feeling cute going to work out." He was working out, and someone else took the picture. All signs point to it being a candid moment, not a calculated move. No one knows the true intent, but regardless, RFK or any other politician posting pictures like this should not be supported for doing so. RFK should keep his shirt on and explain why he allegedly lied about his involvement in accepting an invite to the Moms for Liberty summit.
Then there's Bix Jacks' tweet about Marjorie Taylor Greene's (MTG) workout videos. His point is sharp and clear: “Why are MAGA supporters panting over AOC when they have MTG on their side of the House?” It's a valid question. What we are seeing is a trend of public servants who seem more suited to be online influencers. While Marjorie Taylor Greene is more grounded in truth, they're both more focused on their image than on working together to get things done. It's like a reality TV show, but with higher stakes and worse consequences.
This brings us to the role of performance art in politics. AOC's selfie, MTG's workout videos, they're all forms of performance art. But what is the purpose of this performance art? Is it to connect with the public on a personal level, or is it to distract from the real issues at hand?
Performance art, by its very nature, is meant to provoke thought and stir emotions. It's a powerful tool when used effectively. But in the realm of politics, it can be a double-edged sword. On one hand, it can humanize politicians and make them more relatable. On the other hand, it can trivialize serious issues and reduce political discourse to a popularity contest.
The performance art piece at the 2022 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), featuring Marjorie Taylor Greene (MTG) and Brandon Straka, a defendant in the January 6th Capitol riot case, is a striking example of how art can be used to highlight a political issue. The scene was surreal: a man in an orange jumpsuit and red MAGA cap, sobbing in a cage, representing the January 6 defendants who have been jailed. Attendees were given Bluetooth headphones to listen to audio accounts from these defendants, bringing the plight of these individuals to the forefront in a visceral way.
On the second day of the performance, the man in the cage was Brandon Straka, founder of the #WalkAway campaign. Straka, a vocal proponent of the Stop the Steal movement, had filmed himself on the steps of the Capitol Building on January 6. Despite not serving jail time for a single misdemeanor count of disorderly conduct, he played the part of a jailed activist, embodying the experiences of those who remain imprisoned.
The performance drew a large crowd, including MTG herself. She was allowed into the cage to hug Straka and pray with him, a moment that humanized both of them and underscored the emotional weight of the issue at hand. The crowd outside the cage joined in prayer, creating a powerful collective moment of solidarity and concern.
While this performance art piece did boost MTG's personal profile, it also served a greater purpose. It shone a light on the ongoing issue of the January 6 defendants who are still in jail. This form of protest is more impactful than simply writing an article or tweeting about the issue. It brings the issue to life in a way that is hard to ignore, making it a potent reminder that politicians are not just public figures but also individuals capable of using their platform to draw attention to important issues.
In the case of AOC's selfie, it's a classic example of small scale performance art. But what is the message behind it? Is it a statement of empowerment, a defiance of political norms, or simply a bid for attention? The interpretation is subjective, and therein lies the power and the peril of performance art in politics.
In the final analysis, AOC's 'basic bitch' selfie is more than just a picture. It's a statement, a performance, and a topic of debate. But at the end of the day, what does it really achieve? Does it further her political agenda or merely fuel her celebrity status? As a public servant, her primary role should be to serve the people, not to cultivate a personal brand. Performance art can be a powerful tool in politics, but it should be used judiciously and with purpose. Otherwise, it risks becoming a distraction, a sideshow in the circus of modern politics.
In the grand scheme of things, it's not the selfies or the workout videos that matter. It's the policies, the actions, and the impact on the people. So, let's focus on what truly matters and let the politicians keep their selfies to themselves. After all, they were elected to serve, not to entertain.