Jay-Z’s company, Rocawear, is now selling a t-shirt that says “Occupy Wall Street” with graffiti style lettering modifying the message to read “Occupy All Streets.” A mini scandal has brewed over the shirt as it’s become clear that Rocawear, currently, has no plans to give any of the procedes to the occupiers themselves.
In case you don't know who Jay-Z is, he's a rapper/music producer and marketing genius. He's also married to Beyonce. Jay-Z's personal fortune is north of $400M. Doing stuff like this is why, of course.
Cynical exploitation? Well, yeah. Better yet, consider the explanation:
“The ‘Occupy All Streets’ T shirt was created in support of the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ movement. Rocawear strongly encourages all forms of constructive expression, whether it be artistic, political or social. ‘Occupy All Streets’ is our way of reminding people that there is change to be made everywhere, not just on Wall Street. At this time we have not made an official commitment to monetarily support the movement.”
You can make a lot of change, all right. Play your cards right and you can make benjamins, too. Jay-Z well understands the eternal P.T. Barnum demographic.
Victor Davis Hanson makes a larger point about the sorts of folks who are part of OWS:
So much of the angst in video clips and op-eds was voiced by a youthful upper middle class who went to the university, majored either in social science or liberal arts, piled up debt, faced almost no employment choices commensurate with their class and their educational brand — and thus were furious at the more profit-minded members of a like class for abandoning them.It's gotta be a kick in the teeth when a guy like Jay-Z, who didn't even get through high school, is able to make money off your plaints, while your bachelor's degree in comparative literature gets you a lice infested tent in Zuccotti Park. The lesson is simple enough -- education and awareness are different things.
Revolutionary movements throughout history are so often sparked by the anger, envy, and disappointments of an upper-middle cohort, highly educated, but ill-suited for material success in the existing traditional landscape.