a mall as a roof

It could have been a Hollywood remake of 2000’s “Where the Heart Is” but Destiny chose a different fate for Michael Townsend and Adriana Yoto’s. Ahhh … the irresistable lure of the media spotlight. As leading roles in this unusual social tale, this couple reached fame when local media discovered that our unwilling (?) revolutionists who, in protest of its intrusion, had taken up residence at their local mall.

The media has painted a portrait of an anti-conformist Bonnie and Clyde, a “glamorized” couple that took over an empty space of private property and made it their home sweet home.

This act of rebellion would have gained my respect – indeed, ignited my revolutionary flame – had the couple embraced a worthier cause (a voice for homelessness in America, anyone?) or at least exited with a bang (ie: a last desperate stand against the mall security). To my regret, there was no noble or greater motivation behind the story of two individuals inhabiting a dusty hole-in-the-wall for nearly four years (at which point they were discovered and evicted): it was a banal story of two ordinary individuals selfishly enjoying the usufruct (the right to use and enjoy a property) without being entitled to do so. Yoto and Townsend initially protested the “cost to taxpayers” and “colonizing presence” of the mall structure, but had no problem helping themselves to a rent-free apartment with a panorama view, under the thin guise of social protest. What’s next? Identity theft? It’s fashionable you know!

My concern is the following: why “mediatize” an event (performance, really) with little to no social context or purpose? Why vociferate compassion, why grant legitimacy to such actions?

In Texas, property owners are notorious for shooting first and asking questions later: unindentified moving targets trespassing on private property are welcomed with a round of gunfire, not the attentions of the local camera crew. I would think – and let me know if I’m mistaken – squatters don’t generate such support and positive advertising on behalf of the media! When an item is stolen in a store, “the full extent of the law” is used in prosecution, so tell me, in a society where justice is a blind arm striking, why is there such inequity in the arm of the law?

With that rant, let me congratulate them grudgingly: they did a superb job of manipulating public consciences, even boldly posting pictures of their mall-apartment-home on their website. Let’s just say that for people who hoped to allow their first child to take his first steps in their mall-apartment, it was not a brilliant strategy!

Our media salivates on “good” models of revolutionists. As an independent thinker I can’t fall in the trap consisting in finding true and sincere values in fabricated heroes. To be a hero you still need to embrace a cause and fight for it!

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