The Unruly Crowd

I am always curious how narrative works….how it is imposed on events from the authority structure. Government, police, military, etc.

Two stories recently:
The Anaheim police assault:

and the Aurora Colorado shooting.

The Anaheim Police narrative is the most transparent. In fact, it’s almost childlike. The “official” police narrative is always triggered by a few specific words ( crowd, unruly, melee, documented gang member, etc.). In this case the police narrative simply reads like a bad TV cop show. “The police were securing the area as they looked for evidence”. However if one looks at the photos posted in several So Cal newspapers,
a different narrative emerges. The fact that the Anaheim Police have a record of harassment and abuse would in and of itself, contradict the official narrative, but beyond that, we have photo evidence which simply doesn’t support the TV cop story.

What I wanted to mention here is that we live in age where, no matter how hard we try, we adhere to a narrative taught us by kitsch commodity form TV and film and

Here is a transcript of the Aurora Police department immediately after they arrived at the reported violence on opening night of Dark Knight Rises.

cop 3 – “everyone hold the air one second, cars where that white car in the rear of the lot, is that a suspect?”
cop 2 – “YES! we’ve got rifles, gas masks, I’ve got a open door going into the theater, OK hold that position, hold that suspect!”

There is a quality suggestive of the confusion going on. The jargon of police drama as we’ve learned it, is somehow missing. In other words, there is something that reflects the chaos of violence and mass death. Of murder. It’s not exaggerated….though a bit in conflict of the official police story released later …its just that it isn’t what “audiences” expect. And news is now entertainment and we consume “news” stories such as this. The Aurora story is very dramatic because it contains mass murder, by definition, and it contains, even if a bit indirectly, celebrity and DC comics’ Batman. It’s worth noting, too, that something is lurking at the edges of the Aurora story that suggests a second suspect.

The Anaheim police assault on the public has less lurid elements, since only ONE person died, and that person was dead at the hands of the Police….ergo, the story will officially be squashed as much as possible. No celebrities visiting the hospital the next day, no PR machine from Time Warner, and no wealthy neighborhoods involved. The Anaheim narrative will punch words like “gang” and “unruly crowd” over and over.

Joe Nava makes a great observation in his review of Dark Knight Rises, here

The villain, Bane, and his unruly threatening horde are all dark, exotic looking, unshaven and swarthy…Asian, black, and mixed race. Batman looks like a SWAT team leader… about to, uh, ….break up an unruly crowd in, well, Anaheim.

The discourse of power is going to be the starting point for the official organs of that power….corporate news papers, even local (ish) ones….

The language of the authority structure is, however, losing efficacy. They are, quite possibly, victims of their own demand at saturation. How many episodes of how many TV cops shows have been aired over the last forty years? Grains of sand on the beaches of the world.

In Aurora, a new narrative is being composed to explain James Holmes. Same as people continue to compose narratives here in Norway about Breivik. The Holmes story, the Columbine shooter, all the way back to Charles Manson, these stories will be officially based on and oriented to a magnetic pole that is AUTHORITY — the foundation of all that is good in the USA, in white christian society now under attack from those swarthy, asian black latino hordes being controlled by Bane — in whom we see echos of Hannibal Lector — and in which the subtle hatred of the intellectual is expressed — and whose ‘unruly crowd’ resembles Palestinians throwing rocks, Anaheim teens throwing rocks, OWS protesters NOT throwing rocks — but all faced with the anonymous kevlar helmeted soldiers of RIGHT and VIRTUE.

Traverso’s book The Origins of Nazi Violence, pointed out that a fulcrum was reached, culturally, morally and collectively somehow, in WW1. Anonymous mass death, industrialized killing, with gas mask wearing, helmeted figures killing those they couldn’t see and who couldn’t see them. De-personalized murder.

That figure, the gas mask wearing helmeted WW1 soldier is reproduced in every SWAT team in the US and Europe, and in Bane, and in Batman himself. In fact in all Marvell and DC superheroes. The mask, the hard carapace insect like emotionless disseminator of violence.

There is much more to say about the narrative implications of this trajectory from WW1 to todays OWS protests and poor neighborhoods across the US. The insertion of comic book narratives, or elements of those narratives and “characters”, has ratcheted up a more disembodied and subtly schizoid dynamic in the general viewers ‘reading’ of commodity ‘news’.

Interesting that the first formal description of attention deficit disorder came following W1 — when children recovering from the pandemic of encephalitis at that time, showed signs of a limited ability to concentrate and focus on any single topic. Then in the 1960’s, the first TV generation, the rate increased drastically, and it acquired the label ADD. (not surprisingly the most recent trend is to attribute a genetic link to ADD… is NOT attributing it to social conditions).

There are already reports of at least one other planned attack by a would-be killer at a movie theatre showing Dark Knight Rises. The system reproduces its narratives at an ever accelerated rate — and the nature of attention, the valorizing of same, the appropriation of same by corporate media, all plays into these narratives in ever more complex and more disturbing ways. More de-personalized and yet more narcissistic simultaneously.


  1. Anonymous says:

    they are giving us the narrative of what they want to play out…they are playing it for us over and over again, so that when it happens, we will actually have expected it. In which case, we won’t be as alarmed.

  2. john steppling says:

    Its worth noting that the FBI doesnt keep records of people shot (even those killed) by the police or other law enforcement agencies. It only keeps track of those ‘ police’ who are killed or injured. So the narrative is so skewed as to be meaningless in terms of even vaguely reflecting what is gong on — the Anaheim situation, actually, is hardly unique, across the country, and poor neighborhoods.

    From Tom dispatch today:

    The last decade, of course, has seen an enormous flow of federal counterterrorism money to local police and law enforcement agencies. Since 9/11, the Department of Homeland Security has allocated $30 to $40 billion to local police for a…ll manner of training programs and equipment upgrades. Other federal funding has also been freely dispensed.

    Yet for all the beefing up of post-9/11 visual surveillance, communications, and Internet-monitoring capabilities, for all the easing of laws governing searches and wiretaps, law enforcement authorities failed to pick up on the multiple weapons purchases, the massive Internet ammo buys, and the numerous package deliveries to the dark apartment in the building on Paris Street where preparations for the Aurora massacre took place for months.””

  3. That point of inuring us to the scheduled intensificagion of tyranny and police state much appreciated. How many grand oopsie!chaos!panic! were necezsary to guarantee comiance with the privatization of the treasury (bailout). The haste felt as we watched people die in new orleans was triggered without any justification gor TARP. Its just wed all been conditioned to panic and feel need to act fast.

    OT…i wonder if we can say there are two kinds of highbrow theatre in angliphone core…polite and impolite. … and midlebrow mimics this niw rather than highbrow subverting middle. Havs you read gramsci on theatre? he was first critic to see importance of pirandello. But thats not your preferred highbrow is it?

    Polite highbrow…bond,guare,fornes
    impolite hb…shange, steppling,baraka

    maybe naomi wallace a hybrid

    i think this exhibits two radically different conceptions of thearee

  4. …Of theatre as institution and praxis.

  5. This is really interesting abt the gasmask…and wwi the first war where majority civiluans die and inaugurating airwar. Didnt notice bane-lecter its very striking and that films oscar was a mass culture turning point too. Ramping up infantilization and thought jsmming…reason jamming. The gas mask or bomber pilit insect face displaced first onto martian invaders as sovietss then onto deviants now onto humanity in general…its striking tge movie is doibg same bizniz as last w same audience fir joker and avatar. The details arent too significant.Nolans last movie was abt tge difficukty if planting fantasies totally alien to ppl rather than manipulating found material…affects images etc. But the funny “idiot savant director writer”doctrine of formalist low brow new crit forbids us to assume hres consciously pondering this task.


    Every 36 hours there is an extra judicial police killing of a black person.

  7. A campaign of terror…think how shocking it was to have all this ancient racist imagery explode into the media during Katrina. Superpredators wilding and cannibalism. One week lpng headline was enough to restore this image vocab. David simon doing his part too. But that msm admitted it was all blshit didnt matter. As with the kosovo genocide with these serb velociraptors. Black dabgrrousness and otherness is established. Consider critique if liberal tv here too being always from the right. Ppl criticise ghe cisby show as if only black familues should not be upscale on tv. Murphy brown okay to rep white single mother but tv shpuld associate black ppl with violence and drug traffic and criminality in the interest of realism and accuracy.

  8. John Steppling says:

    Very interesting. And I agree molly. But this is how different registers of narrative are inserted — Cosby as the most reactionary black millionaire in the country, whose constant hecktoring about “if you hadnt stole the poundcake….”…..and this is a known narrative, the kistch bio of Cosby. In this case, its true the default setting is the equilibium of the status quo world — its fundamental rightness. But its operating in several registers at once. The news media will always resort to that as the background.

    As for gas mask…..yeah, I find it interesting because that anonymous menace….the face that isnt a face….that is immobile….migrated as it were, to other forms of this (Terminator)…..and an android becomes the ‘better’ parent. But all super hero comix employ the mask as the more real. Also you’re right…..air war……killing from a distance….depersonalized….and also industrially orchestrated mass killing.

  9. All Shemalez

Speak Your Mind


To Verify You\'re Human, Please Solve The Problem: * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.