You know that thing in cartoons where someone sees something unbelievable and they blink a couple of times and rub their eyes? That’s what I had to do when I read that not only was there going to be a movie made about the 1999 Seattle anti-WTO protests-turned-riots, but that Charlize Theron would star in it, presumably as a beautiful and committed activist.
The film, like the event, is called Battle in Seattle, and it’s being written and directed by the Night Stalker. Not the re-animated corpse of Darren McGavin, but rather Stuart Townsend, the guy who could have been Aragorn and who starred in the deservedly short-lived Night Stalker remake series. Theron is Townsend’s girlfriend, so I imagine she was easily convinced to take a role.
The Battle in Seattle was one of the galvanizing moments of the anti-globalization movement, and it was one of the rare times I felt some hope for my generation. The World Trade Organization held one of its regular meetings of evil in Seattle that year, and massive numbers of protesters – including doctors, attorneys, anarchists, hippies, environmentalists, human rights groups, Grey Panthers, regular people and more – descended on the city. They were met with massive violent resistance by the Seattle police, which made even the less edgy protesters up the ante in terms of action. What was great about Seattle was seeing people getting more upset by a Black Bloc anarchist throwing a rock through a Starbucks window than the shockingly negative effects WTO policies have on poor countries, poor people and the environment. It was a good look at how basically corrupt, lazy and stupid many people in this country are – you get outraged about a pane of glass in a megacorporation swillery but the undemocratic and non-transparent systems of the WTO as they pillage the planet doesn’t get a mention.
In the end the protesters won. Before Seattle no one knew what the hell the WTO was, but afterwards there was more visibility. The movement that came out of Seattle was able to be ready to organize and mobilize massive shows of dissent when the war in Iraq started, and I still think there’s great potential for this generation of activists.