|While a large majority of Occupy Wall Street protesters don’t seem to take issue with celebrity support, visits, or participation in the movement, filming at their expense might be another thing entirely.|
According to the New York Times, the filming of an episode of Law & Order: SVU was interrupted early Friday morning when more than 100 OWS protesters took over the downtown Manhattan Foley Square set, which was transformed to look like the camps in Zuccotti Park, the home base of the OWS movement, for an upcoming episode. (Can’t you just picture the scenario in which L&O: SVU gang stumbles upon the crime scene now? In my head the dialogue sounds a little something like this: “It looks like he’s occupying… the funeral home.”)
The Times reports that unhappy OWS protesters took over the mock Occupy Wall Street (“Mockupy Wall Street”) set around midnight. “Some [protestors] crawled into [the set's] tents and lay down,” the Times noted, adding, that others “crowded into the middle of the ersatz encampment and danced while pounding drums and waving flags. One man picked up a Twain volume from the library tent. Several others made a beeline for the kitchen, where they helped themselves to muffins and a jar of pickles, among other delicacies.” (“It looks like they’re occupying… the craft services table.” Okay, I’ll stop.)
The Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment said in a statement released to EW, “Overnight a crowd gathered at Foley Square, where Law & Order: Special Victims Unit was scheduled to begin filming this morning. The production did not have the required rigging permit to begin set up prior to its filming this morning at 8am. For safety reasons, the production was asked to stop their preparations last night while the crowd dispersed. The Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment is working with the production as they begin filming today. The City is currently experiencing record levels of productions, and the local entertainment industry employs 100,000 New Yorkers working behind the camera.”
But will they be met with resistance once again? Or perhaps the more pressing question: What caused such an uproar in the first place? The OWS movement is certainly no stranger to having cameras on them, from the coverage by the 24-hour media outlets (though Geraldo Rivera was admittedly met with some resistance) to coverage by the half-hour comedy news programs (The Daily Show, The Colbert Report). Some OWS participants even volunteered to share their stories, like the protesters who appeared in MTV’s installment of True Life: I’m Occupying Wall Street.
But in this instance, it seemed many of the upset OWS activists took issue with the fact that the show appeared to be using the movement for entertainment value. (In response, protesters made signs which read, “We are a political movement not a TV show,” “OWS is not for sale.”) And with the fact that there were no repercussions for the Law & Order crew, while Zuccotti Park residents had to fight their eviction last month. As one OWS supported argued to the Times, “Why should they be able to put tents up in a public park when we are unable to do that?” (EW reached out to both reps for NBC and Occupy Wall Street for a statement regarding the incident, but neither responded to the requests.)
Maybe it’s for the best that Batman didn’t turn Zuccotti Park into Gotham City, after all.
What do you think of the OWS protestors anger with Law & Order: SVU filming something about their movement right near their home base? Should NBC have taken the same approach as The Dark Knight Rises cast and crew, who ultimately decided not to use Zuccotti Park or its residents because, as according to Matthew Modine, “We didn’t want to trivialize it. It was more important to respect what they’re doing than to do anything that could potentially trivialize the political situation”? Or should the OWS protesters have respect for a set that wasn’t technically on their turf in the first place? If L&O: SVU wasn’t imposing on them, should they have?