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In-Depth Interview: Prof. L. M. Bogad on the Art, Science and Theater of Political Protest

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Lawrence M. Bogad, just promoted to full Professor of Political Performance at UC Davis, joins us to talk about the art of political protest, and its impact.Bogad has just published two new books:  Electoral Guerrilla Theatre: Radical Ridicule and Social Movements; and Tactical Performance: The Theory and Practice of Serious Play.

Bogad has one of the coolest academic jobs in America….he teaches political protest.  He has also witnessed or been involved in many political actions, and shares his deep knowledge of organized, creative political demonstrations and stunts.

We discuss many examples, from Rev. Billy’s run for NYC mayor in 2012 to Jello Biafra’s similar attempt in San Francisco in the 1980’s.  We cover the WTO protests in Seatlle in 1999, Occupy, Black Lives Matter, Code Pink, and the tactics used by National Nurses United to defeat billionaire Meg Whitman in her run against Jerry Brown in California.

Along the way, we learn some of the academic terms like “novelty to news” like when Rev. Billy’s cartoonish character was interviewed by CN about a Black Friday stampede at Walmart.  And Bogad helps us understand the difference between soft satire, indirect action, and direct action.  We talk about the perverse role of corporate media, which ignores most protest unless violence is involved.

Near the end of our chat, we focus on the protests and pepper spray incident that made UC Davis infamous, and in part led to the recent suspension of Chancellor Linda Katehi.  And we talk about Bogad’s latest performance, Cointelshow, which triggers old memories for your humble host.