ALTERNATIVE PRESS REVIEW

BY: ALLAN ANTLIF

Review: Unconventional Coverage, at the Republican National Convention

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For some years Valerie Keller and Elizabeth Fiend with Gretjen Clausing have been producing a wildly popular cable TV show–Big Tea Party–dedicated to bringing “anarchist home economics” to Philly’s cheese-steak enthusiasts. In the summer of 2000 George W. Bush’s Republicans came to town to crown their king, and BTP rallied its forces to produce a feature on the event . . . from the protesters’ perspective.

The result is a high-production tour-de-force unlike any other recent activist video. Fiend “hosts” the show, providing snappy commentary that is squarely aimed at the establishment’s misrepresentations and double-speak. She searches out and interviews protesters who discuss a wide range of concerns, bringing to the fore the diversity of voices fuelling the anti-Republican forces. We also get a taste of the opposite side’s mind-set from people such as Log Cabin Republican Donald Carter who defends gay conservatism and a “Sisters for the Second Amendment” spokesperson who calls (loudly) for a piece in every purse. The video is tightly edited and spiced up with anti-capitalist rap poetry, screamingly funny studio cuts of Fiend wringing the neck of a “rubber chicken” politician, and other vignettes. These augment on-the-street analysis of universal health care, how to end gun violence, the rightness of dissent, and other issues.

This video is designed for public viewing, with two 30 minutes segments framed by intros and closing music. Imagine crowds during a showing taking a 10 minute break for popcorn, petition signing, etc. and you get the idea. The first segment, “The Message”, communicates the issues radicals sought to air in Philadelphia through sit-downs, parades, street theatre, banners, music, songs, and speeches. The second segment, “The Means,” is an invaluable primer covering the 4 Big Things that made the Philadelphia demonstrations effective: Direct Action; How to Stage a Protest; Do It Yourself Media; and Dealing With Police Repression. Talk about your Anarchist Home-Ec!

Funny, ironic, and creative, “Unconventional Coverage” makes a rebellious sensibility accessible to the masses. I can imagine people who are new to radicalism not only enjoying it, but also identifying with it, and that’s no small feat in my estimation. Want to mobilize the neighbourhood? Buy this video.
— Allan Antliff

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