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BWW Blog: Shocking, Horrifying, Surprising, and Unbelievably Predictable - Part 1

An analysis and thoughts on the performative elements of the insurrection at The United States Capitol.

My freshman year, I took a class entitled "Performing Power Performing Protest" in which we looked at famous protests throughout history and the performance like nature of each event that led to their place in the history books. The performative elements of each protest were a perfect storm that moved the nation to change. Unlike these protests, The Capitol "protest" became an insurrection, and though its perfect storm will earn its place in the history books, the change that it has the potential to bring has yet to be fully seen. As I watched the insurrection, my thoughts immediately went to this class and I wanted to look at January 6th from the perspective I had learned throughout that semester.

The Rehearsals

The Capitol insurrection was not an improv show, it was a planned and coordinated attack meant to harm The United States government's elected officials. So, while the domestic terrorists did not exactly have a dress rehearsal, the protests that loitered the nation following Joe Biden's historic win of the 2020 election served as 2-month long tech week. Not only did these protests show that Trump's followers could gather and wreak havoc, they also served as "previews" to the atrocity that was January 6th. The brightest marquee in history was lit above Trump's cult-like mob of followers as they planned and prepared the insurrection in January, with national and international reviews showing the clear and present danger to democracy looming, and yet it seems as though nothing was done to stop this show from reaching opening night. While I never in a million years thought that these protests would lead to the events on January 6th, I was surprisingly numb when I saw the first videos of the insurrectionists on the steps and inside the Capitol building. An attempt to do this was coming, I just never thought it would succeed.

The Stage

Since its creation, the United States Capitol Building has been a symbol of democracy around the world. In the United States, it is supposed to be so much more. In lieu of a living, breathing figure embodying a person's duties as citizen of the United States over the responsibilities of a political party member, the Capitol dome had come to represent bipartisanship, a place where Democrats and Republicans supposedly come together to put country over party. In my 19 years, the Dome's symbolic nature has fizzled. The insurrection last Wednesday shows the affects a group of politician's lies have on their followers, as right-wing Republicans' refusal to acknowledge Joe Biden as the President elect led to their supporter's attempt to overthrow our government. By staging the "protest" at/in the Capitol, the juxtaposition between the ideals upheld by the stage of choice and the reality that is the United States belted out as loud as Idina Menzel's high E at the end of "Defying Gravity," making the moment much more poignant and disheartening than any Trump rally or Senate hearing I've seen in the past 4 years.


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