Who Uses Puppets for Political Protest? Meet Elliot Crown
My guest today is Elliot Crown, actor and concerned citizen.
Joan Brunwasser: Welcome to OpEdNews, Elliot. I understand that you've made political protest puppets and performances. I'm not really sure what that means. Can you explain a bit?
Elliot Crown: Hi Joan. I'd be happy to - OpEdNews is my daily source for information!
JB: Why, thank you! Always good to hear from an OpEdNews fan.
EC: I make highly theatrical puppets, employing familiar cultural icons, to spread progressive ideas in the mainstream and alternative press. It's a formula. Since any artwork is open to interpretation, mainstream corporate media images can often SHOW what they will not, literally, SAY. I call it the "art loophole." And I think most journalists privately lean left and are glad to publish a progressive image if given the chance. I operate in that space.
JB: That's better, Elliot, but it's still a bit abstract. Can you show us? Take an image and take us through the process: how you create it and how it transmits your message, from soup to nuts.
EC: OK. The Fossil Fool went all over the global mainstream at the People's Climate March. I wanted to convey the idea that our dependence on fossil fuels is plain madness. Message in hand, I'll work backwards to find an eye-catching image that best communicates that message to the widest possible audience.
In our media-saturated world, you have to grab attention with bright colors, large scale, humor and surprise using recognizable characters, real or imaginary, from our shared cultural language. It has a lot in common with advertising. Use Mickey Mouse, the Statue of Liberty, King Kong, apple pie, or George Washington to help "sell" your message.
Choosing a recognizable character is great because it provides instant context. A lot of my work has a clowny feel. I toured the US in a circus as a clown, and I love the purity of it. We all recognize clowns, but this one's scary, with his large fossil skull, and a party hat resembling a spewing oil derrick. His flag toga reminds the viewer that the US is the big climate culprit. The Fossil Fool is about to destroy the world with dynamite sticks, but he looks like he's having fun - madness!
Images go directly to the place where dreams and memories reside, so I avoid text whenever possible. I like to think these images insinuate themselves into people's consciousness, and make a difference.
JB: Thanks for walking us through that one, Elliot. How about another one? This is really fascinating.
EC: Thank you! Well, during Occupy's heyday, I kept bumping into Marni Halasa doing protest street performance. She was getting tons of media doing really funny, pointed stuff about Wall Street crime, in a sexy way that would never have occurred to me. She's a lawyer, a graduate of Columbia journalism, a former legal journalist, a professional figure skater, and happens to be drop dead gorgeous, which never yet wrecked a photo. She lights up the frame!