Obama Occupies What?

There he is, our president, Barack Obama, clad in a powerful black suit with a striped tie. His eyes are closed, for he’s in the middle of a passionate kiss, tightly lip-locked with Chinese President Hu Jintao.

The next photo is none other than Pope Benedict XVI, in what looks like an abandonment of Church doctrine as he’s depicted making out with Egyptian Imam Dr. Ahmed al Tayyeb.

These are just two of the latest, digitally altered advertisements for controversial retailer United Colors of Benetton in support of the Unhate Campaign. The ads feature world leaders kissing each other to promote tolerance. Obama, apparently he’s a two-timer in this fictional depiction of tolerance, can also be seen scamming – how’s that for an old school term – with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. And what about Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu? Oh my God, sooo totally gay for each other.

Benetton is no stranger to controversy. On the contrary, the clothing retailer thrives on it. From ads featuring a black woman breast-feeding a white baby to a priest kissing a nun, the strategy behind Benetton’s shocking ad campaigns is clear: create buzz; generate awareness.  And like it or not, Benetton, through the vision of photographer Oliviero Toscani, is second to none when it comes to executing this strategy.

The Occupy Wall Street movement needs to take some notes. OWS has spread to almost 200 locations throughout the world, according to Yahoo News. They, too, are striving to create buzz and raise awareness for much-needed economic reform.

The problem is in the execution. Having no clear leadership and no clear message only strengthens anti OWS sentiment to the common individual. The whole crapping, fornicating and overdosing in public parks thing doesn’t really help win people’s hearts, either.

But you have to admire their spirit and their resilience. Like the hippie movement generations before, people are standing up for what they believe in, even in the face of adversity, like the shootings in Oakland. One 84-year-old Seattle woman was pepper-sprayed right in her face. Call them what you want, they’re a dedicated group and it doesn’t appear that the OWS movement is going to disappear anytime soon. They now have to find a way to transfer this passion to the common man.

One young woman taking part in Occupy El Paso smiled from ear to ear in her mug shot after getting arrested, proud to be considered a criminal. The hippies had more support, as their message was simple: Make love, not war. They had strong leaders like Abbie Hoffman, who later co-founded the Youth International Movement (Yippies).

I’m not seeing that kind of organization today – so far, at least. Who is this generation’s Abbie Hoffman? Who is the figure that will serve as the voice for the OWS movement?

One thing is clear: even without such a figure, OWS still has a nation talking. But the movement’s pulse, from a media standpoint, at least, is starting to weaken. Without a more focused and better-executed game plan, as well as a vocal leader who will convey such a plan, the nation will start talking about other things really fast a la Jerry Sandusky, Solyndra, NBA greed and, yeah, Obama trading saliva with Hugo Chavez.

(He can do so much better, by the way).


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