Gone are the days where the thought of protests immediately painted a picture of people holding picket signs and chanting in unison. Images of violence may even come to mind; these days, however, protests are a far cry from those in the past. Times change and so does human behaviour – now, people are thinking out of the box and injecting modern-day protests with hearty doses of creativity.
Here are some creative methods that have been used in protests all over the world.
Thailand: the use of social media platforms and emoticons
In Thailand, activists have taken to Facebook and Twitter to gauge the potential response to the holding of rallies. They then responded based on the majority of the reactions; for example, on Facebook, the ‘care’ emoticon indicated that the protests should take a break, whilst the ‘wow’ emoticon was an indication that the protests should keep going. On Twitter, a similar poll was held, with like and retweet buttons as distinguishing factors.
Social media platforms have also proven useful in holding pop-up protests, allowing individuals to stay one step ahead of the authorities. Apps like Telegram have also been used to coordinate plans and locations. Taking it up a notch, fans of Korean boyband BTS, have also taken to Facebook to raise funds in support of the protest. According to reports, they’ve managed to rake up a growing 3 million THB!
Thailand: the harnessing of pop-culture references
Tune into any news channel covering the 2020 Thailand protests and you’ll see each individual holding up three fingers in the air. You might recall this three-finger-salute from the popular movie series, The Hunger Games, where the protagonist used the salute to lead a revolution against the monarchy.
In August 2020, protestors even brought in Harry Potter, likening the king to the villain of Voldemort. Interestingly, even the cartoon character, Hamtaro the hamster, has come into play, where activists ran around in circles in public places to simulate one running on a hamster wheel.
France: the power of a silent protest
Violence is never the answer; and in this case, silence spoke volumes. Indeed, actions spoke louder than words in 2015 in Paris, where thousands of protestors left their pairs of empty shoes in a public square as part of a silent protest. Protests were banned in Paris; individuals hence used their empty shoes to signify what could have been in championing for climate change. This cause even saw the U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, as well as Pope Francis, donating their shoes as well!
New York City: the transformation of streets into gardens
In 1999, the mayor of New York City declared his intention to auction off 198 community gardens to real estate developers. This was naturally met with much displeasure by the citizens, who retaliated by turning the streets into actual gardens. Roads were filled with dirt and plants, with garden parties being held long into the night! This outpouring of community support succeeded in changing the mayor’s mind, with many neighbourhood gardens still around in New York City today.
Lebanon: the dressing up as bloody brides
In the 1940s, a law was established in Lebanon to allow rapists to get away scot-free, as long as they wed the victim of their crime. In 2016, to protest this cruel law, women took to the streets dressed as bloody brides and wrapped in bandages to make a statement. They succeeded in doing so, where the law was repealed by the Lebanese government in December 2016.
Hong Kong: of online forums and mooncakes
In more recent news, last year’s Hong Kong’s protests also saw multiple ‘Be Water’ methods, where online forums were used to ask supporters to vote on when and where rallies should be held. In a savoury twist of events, mooncakes were even used to spread the message, where these pastries would display popular protest slogans on them. Multiple flashmob song sessions were also held, where particular songs were belted out in unison.
Creative? Indeed. Effective? Without a doubt. Who knows how else protests will be carried out in the future?