Monday, November 14, 2011

I Don't Know Which is Less Commendable: the Crowd or the Entertainer

Makana, [popular Hawaiian recording artist], was enlisted to play a luau, or Hawaiian feast [hosted by President Barack Obama], Saturday night for leaders assembled in Obama’s birthplace Honolulu for an annual summit that is formulating plans for a Pacific free-trade pact.


The performance occurred at a dinner for summit participants from 21 economies around the Asia-Pacific, including Chinese President Hu Jintao and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, amid a security lockdown in Waikiki.


[In] the midst of the dinner on the resort strip Waikiki Beach, [Makana] pulled open his jacket to reveal a T-shirt that read “Occupy with Aloha,” using the Hawaiian word whose various meanings include love and peace. He then sang a marathon version of his new song “We Are The Many.”


As Makana sang, about 400 protesters including anti-globalization and native Hawaiian rights activists staged a protest march toward the dinner site but turned back after encountering the smothering security.


“I was pretty nervous. In fact I was terrified. I kept thinking ‘what are the consequences going to be?’” Makana, 33, told AFP.

“It was incredibly comical. I was terrified but also enjoying it,” he said.

Raw Story

As it turns out, Obama wasn’t even paying attention.

Makana, who was born Matthew Swalinkavich, said the song prompted awkward stares from a few of those present but the Obamas appeared too absorbed with their guests to notice what was happening.

Swalinkavich? That sounds downright communistic! Who was in charge of booking the entertainment? The same guy who booked Stephen Colbert for the press dinner with George Bush?

The song features the refrain, “We’ll occupy the streets, we’ll occupy the courts, we’ll occupy the offices of you, till you do the bidding of the many, not the few.”

He sang it “over and over” for 40 minutes, varying his tempo and delivery to avoid triggering an overt reaction.

“Whenever I felt the heat might come down, I would ease off. It was a very careful procedure,” he said.

So, Mashka, then what was the point? Your "protest" song can be used essentially as elevator music. Background. White noise. Way to go.

PS: Agence France-Presse reports Makana simply as a protester who managed to get through the security. Nice try. I don't think so.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

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