selling out

Commodify Wall Street vs. the ™ Party

There is nothing more American than commodifying a revolution. We the people love to buy our Che Guevara T-shirts at Urban Outfitters, after all. And so perhaps it’s no surprise that both the tea party and Occupy Wall Street were very quickly co-opted by people looking to make a buck. The tea party got started in February 2009; by April, one Barry Coles (who also owns a company that calibrates police radar guns, among other businesses) had already applied for a trademark and begun selling gear at rallies. Similarly, within a month of OWS’s inception, opportunistic souls had begun putting the Occupy Wall Street tagline on condoms — which might have prevented certain other things from multiplying, but spawned a whole slew of similarly branded merch.

Sure, there are some extremely meaningful ideological differences between the two movements — and maybe you want to take that into account — but aligning with one or the other is also about picking a lifestyle. It’s about celebrity endorsement. It’s about schwag.  It’s about figuring out which anti-sellout movement has sold out more successfully. Below, a brief guide to picking the brand — and we do mean brand — of populism that’s right for you.

  tea party occupy wall street
Demographic Mostly over 30 Average age reportedly 33
Books Give Us Liberty: A Tea Party Manifesto (Foreword by Glenn Beck) Occupying Wall Street: The Inside Story of an Action That Changed America
Soundtrack American Idol alumna Krista Branch's "I Am America", as heard most famously in the Herman Cain campaign ad Bongos, as heard most famously (and with great irritation) by Zuccotti Park's neighbors.
Clothes Zazzle T-Shirt section Daryl K, Daily Candy–recommended indie designers
Celebrity Endorsements Jon Voight, Victoria Jackson, Ted Nugent, Donald Trump Susan Sarandon, Noam Chomsky, Roseanne Barr, Jay-Z, Russell Simmons, Michael Moore, Lupe Fiasco, Cornel West, Yoko Ono, Deepak Chopra, Kanye West, Alec Baldwin, Tim Robbins, Penn Badgley, Mark Ruffalo, Danny Glover
TV Network Fox MTV
App "Tea Party Finder"; helps you locate nearby tea party groups "I'm Getting Arrested"; sends a text to friends announcing you've just been arrested
Prophylactic Membership in Tea Party Condoms
Internet Fan Clubs Conservatives4Palin Hot Chicks of Occupy Wall Street
Headgear Tri-corner hats Guy Fawkes masks
Trademark(s) filed? Yes, including for "Teaparty Patriot" and "Tea Party Patriots" Yes, including for "We Are the 99 Percent", "Occupy Wall Street", and "Occupy"
Commodify Wall Street vs. the ™ Party