This isn’t about Byelarus’. In other countries, especially those with unstable governments, massive public gatherings matter. In our country, the “right to assemble” is ensconsed in the Bill of Rights. It’s a good thing that it is, but it just doesn’t matter anymore.
In the 60s, all of the big movements had some gathering that drew national attention and began debate about certain issues. But that was then.
At my college, there was a protest for everything. Kids protested the most ridiculous of things, like the French resuming nuclear testing. Protests don’t matter because they don’t reach anyone anymore. The people there are in an echo chamber, and an anachronistic one at that.
So, gather as many people as you can. 500,000? Great. Protest the immigration bill all you want, but it’s going to do as much to antagonize others as to get them to join you. This is not an issue that people don’t talk about. Illegal immigration is not something people don’t talk about.
50 years ago it worked. It did something.
Today, we live in a media world. I submit to you that Farenheit 9/11 did as much for the anti-Iraq war movement as any mass gathering in the 60s did for the anti-Vietnam war did, and Brokeback Mountain will ultimately do as much for acceptance of gays (see the recent polls? people are more accepting of gay marriage than they were just two years ago) as any march did for women’s rights.
Massive protests only highlight the “otherness” of the people involved to people who don’t protest. Complex characters showing their normalcy (think Big Love, too, by the way) in context only breaks those barriers down.
So, produce a film or a sitcom–leave the signs at home.