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October 6, 2011

Wall Street Occupation: Looking Down on Mr. Tambourine Man

This isn’t the first photo Mario Tama has taken using a reflection in a window to draw a contrast between the white collar class and the working stiffs. We did a post with Mario back in April 2009 capturing similar elements, taken during a Financial District demonstration protesting the Wall Street bailout. The difference between that photo and this, however, reflective of the growing traction of Occupy Wall Street, is the hardening of the anger and the sharpening of the divide.

A repeated visual theme of the protests so far has been the juxtaposition of the protesters and the suits. This photo (the nature of the two posters putting the culture clash on a war footing) is powerful for the expressions and the orientation, the corporate guys on the inside, having the higher station, looking down on Mr. Tambourine Man and his ilk. More than anything though, what this photo contributes to the narrative is that look of contempt.

In the 2009 photo, there wasn’t any tension at all “on the inside.” The businesspeople didn’t even notice a demonstration was taking place. To the surprise of just about everyone now, however, what both sides are realizing, more so with each passing day, is how much each has skin in the game.

PHOTOGRAPH by Mario Tama/Getty Images.

(caption: Protesters affiliated with the Occupy Wall Street movement march past a bar in Lower Manhattan’s Financial District near Wall Street on October 5, 2011 in New York City. Thousands of protesters including union members and college students from an organized walkout joined today’s rally and march.)

About the Photographer

Mario Tama

Mario Tama has covered global events including September 11, the war in Afghanistan, the war in Iraq, the funeral of Pope John Paul II and Hurricane Katrina - before, during and after the storm. His work on Baghdad’s orphans was exhibited at Visa Pour L’Image in France and his photographs from Hurricane Katrina were featured in National Geographic, Newsweek and newspapers worldwide. In 2008 he was nominated for an Emmy for his documentary work on Coney Island and won Cliff Edom's New America Award for his work in New Orleans. He has received numerous other honors from institutions including the White House News Photographers Association, UNICEF Photo of the Year, Pictures of the Year International, Care International Award for Humanitarian Reportage, China International Press Photo Contest, and Days Japan International Photojournalism Awards. He studied photography at Rochester Institute of Technology and freelanced in Washington, DC for the Washington Post and Agence France-Presse before joining Getty Images. Mario is based in New York City. See more of Mario's work for BagNews here.

  • Anonymous

    The gods look down from Olympus, where the cocktails are divine and $12. Happy hour in paradise.

    Though you might hear laughin’, spinnin’, swingin’ madly across the sun
    It’s not aimed at anyone, it’s just escapin’ on the run
    And but for the sky there are no fences facin’
    And if you hear vague traces of skippin’ reels of rhyme
    To your tambourine in time, it’s just a ragged clown behind
    I wouldn’t pay it any mind
    It’s just a shadow you’re seein’ that he’s chasing

    B Dylan, 1964

  • Jonst

    Assuming this movement, or community, grows it will be fascinating, to me, anyway, to watch how the Neo-Liberals try and co-opt it.

    • Anonymous

      Since I didn’t know what Neo-liberals are, I had to look it up. Whew. Not one, so my support for the protestors and my (mutual) contempt for the suits will not be seen as co-opting.

  • Amir Goy

    The Genie is out of the bottle and the lines are being drawn…

  • Anonymous

    Reminds me of Bourke-White’s famously ironic photo of the Louisville Flood.

    http://whitney.org/image_columns/0000/9537/92.58_bourke-white_imageprimacy_600.jpg

  • Anonymous

    In this photo all the attention (and that contempt tinged with fear?) is coming from behind the expensive window. The protestors passing by outside don’t seem to notice or care. Indicative of their growing power? I hope so.

  • Gasho

    Where is that line being drawn exactly.. and is it different in the rhetoric vs. everyday interactions?  For example, the people in this very nice restaurant are probably quite rich, maybe in the 95th percentile, but they are supposed to be INCLUDED in the 99%.  In practice, though, anyone ‘richer than thou’ will be tainted by the stink of their riches.  Can we successfully parse the difference between successful folks and greedy bastards?

    How about the REALLY successful folks, like Steve Jobs (RIP), who brought the common man the most powerful tools for communication ever made?  How about Warren Buffet, who practically started this movement by asking for higher taxes on the rich — he’s certainly in the 1% — but he ought to be able to walk among these protesters and get their respect.  

    While the 99% / 1% labels are easy to use, I don’t think they are a good way to approach the “line to be drawn”.  I think it has more to do with identifying the ones who are doing the DAMAGE to our society and our planet and our economy.  If this movement ultimately causes a major change, it’s going to have to change us ALL.  If it’s a return to lawfulness, morality, and respect — or some new paradigm of thinking — we are all going to have to mend our ways.

    • https://quaxquax.myopenid.com/ quaxquax

      If the one percenters where all of Steve Job’s caliber there’d be no unemployment crisis in the US.

    • bks

      Let’s not turn Steve Jobs into a demigod.   Don’t forget that he had to get a handout from Microsoft (which helped Microsoft avoid problems of monopoly).   There isn’t anything fundamental in the Apple Hardware Universe that wasn’t invented outside Apple.   Jobs was a Svengali, not an Edison.

          –bks

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/George-Mokray/767686527 George Mokray

    The guy on the far left behind the window is looking directly at the camera.  His expression is interesting and ambiguous.  He is one of only four (one taking a photo) behind that restaurant window who are paying attention to the march.  Nobody on the sidewalk is looking at the “swells” in the restaurant.  To the people on the sidewalk, demonstrating their discontent, the suits in the restaurant are irrelevant.

    Personally, I’d like to see the #occupy tent cities become green examples, another kind of Solar Decathlon on the bare minimum tip.  DIY democracy meeting DIY green tech could equal DIY economy that really does leave the suits out of the picture.

  • Superman

    Nice pix, but it doesn’t use a reflection like the 2009 image did.

  • Singular

    Patrick Bateman?

  • Singular

    Patrick Bateman?

  • Singular

    Patrick Bateman?

  • Ellanonymo

    To me it looks like their attention and contempt is directed at the cameraman, not the protesters. They know they’re being photographed. See the smiling pose of the woman obscured by the “The” in the sign.

  • Anne

    I don’t see contempt in this picture.

  • https://quaxquax.myopenid.com/ quaxquax

    Yep, Edison was a much nastier guy.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_of_Currents#Edison.27s_publicity_campaign

    Anyhow, my point is that Jobs created jobs by founding Apple and investing and leading Pixar.  He was an entrepreneur at heart, whereas most American CEO’s time horizon doesn’t go past the next quarter’s financial results.

  • Jonst

    So….you did not know what NeoLiberalism is? Ok……

  • http://twitter.com/Screaming_Head The Screaming Head

    What if I marched in the protest in a suit (cuz I like to look good)? Would you feel supportive contempt?

  • http://twitter.com/Screaming_Head The Screaming Head

    What if I marched in the protest in a suit (cuz I like to look good)? Would you feel supportive contempt?

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