By contrast, I haven't seen as much criticism of the human microphone. (Exception: John Oliver did a Daily Show segment where he said the human microphone was annoying.) In Zuccotti Park, the human microphone seemed like a sensible way to get around restrictions on electronic amplification; and it's spread to other Occupy groups since it fits so well with the ideology: the human microphone is participatory, consensual (you have to agree to repeat what someone else says), potentially equalizing (everyone can potentially speak with the same volume), and group-oriented.
(Which makes me think of the "edge" scene from The Lady from Shanghai:
“A guy with an edge. What makes him [points to the jukebox] sing better than me? Something in here [points to his throat]. What makes it loud? A microphone. That’s his edge.”The human microphone might seem like a blunt instrument, but you could say that's the point--it removes edges.)
“A gun or a knife, a nightstick, or a razor, something the other guy ain’t got. Yeah, a little extra reach on a punch, a set of brass knuckles, a stripe on the sleeve, a badge that says cop on it, a rock in your hand, or a bankroll in your pocket. That’s an edge, brother. Without an edge, there ain’t no tough guy.”
So we all love the human microphone at Occupy rallies; but what about the recent use of "mic checks" to interrupt speakers or politicians giving speeches? It still has all that participatory goodness; and it levels the playing field between people with microphones and people without. But even if it's a group activity, it's still basically heckling and shutting down someone else's ability to be heard.
I mean, we can all agree that Kanye West looked like a jerk interrupting Taylor Swift to register his dissent over her VMA win; so would he have looked like less of a jerk if there were a group of people repeating what he said? I think he'd still look like a jerk, whether he was borrowing Swift's microphone or brought his own.
So I'm not thrilled with the increasing number of mic checks, though I love the human microphone at rallies.