Why "Screaming Helplessly At The Sky" Is Not Just A Pointless, Anti-Trump Protest

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There's a reason they call it a "primal scream." There's something about forgetting about language for a moment and letting yourself go through the uninhibited use of your voice. This is the principle the anti-Trump "Scream helplessly at the sky on the anniversary of the election" events are banking on. If you're frustrated at your government as it stands, getting together literally just to scream may not accomplish anything concrete, but it sure will feel good.

"This is just about community — although 'just' is perhaps diminishing. Community is important," says Nathan Wahl, the organizer of the New York event. He saw people on his Facebook saying that they would attend the Boston iteration, and when he saw that there wasn't a similar event planned for New York, he decided to fix that problem. "I think we're a bunch of exasperated people who want to feel connected," he explains.

The first event was planned for Boston on Nov. 8, but since then events have sprung up in multiple cities across the country. "Come express your anger at the current state of democracy, and scream helplessly at the sky!" the event description reads, concisely giving you exactly what you can expect at the event and exactly what it hopes to accomplish: nothing, except to give people a chance to blow off steam. Wahl used one word to describe the whole purpose of the event: "catharsis."

"Scream into a pillow alone in your room or scream into the ether with 1,000 people who feel just as angry and helpless as you," he tells Bustle.


Protests against Trump have taken many forms, from the disparate protests that cropped up immediately after the election, to the record-breaking Women's March and the "Day Without Immigrants" protest in January and February. This event doesn't mention Trump by name, and it isn't so much a protest as an act of catharsis — but it shares certain similarities with the other instances of political engagement that the country has seen since the events of Nov. 8, 2016.

The "Screaming helplessly" protest is getting flack from the Infowars corner of the internet, with right-wing Twitter calling it useless and one writer even calling it a symptom of "'Trump Derangement Syndrome,' where hysterical anti-Trump agitators act out like petulant children by engaging in public temper tantrums."

Its organizers, and the thousands of people considering taking part, don't see it as such. "Everyone's a critic. If it's so useless, what're you mad about? Mind your own," Wahl says. "Plenty of people are posting angry, incendiary comments about the effectiveness of the event from their phone on their couch. And I think they're entirely ignorant to the irony."

His description of the New York event even addresses this sort of criticism:

Join us cucks and snowflakes, safe spacers and libtards, as we enjoy a collective cathartic yell into the heavens about our current political establishment.

Perhaps if they had a helpless screaming event of their own, they wouldn't have quite so many incendiary comments.


Screaming out your stress isn't exactly a new idea, either. "Primal Scream" is a tradition on many college campuses, where students gather on quads or lean out their windows to scream out their stress as finals begin. It doesn't accomplish as much as, for example, studying for that next test — but at the same time, it does relieve you in a way that studying just doesn't. You feel somehow empty after it, but in a positive way — like you've cleared out anything that's clogging your system, leaving you ready to start the hard work again.

For all of the people who have felt their mental health slipping for one reason or another over the last year, this event is a chance to unclog that system. Nothing will be different afterwards — except maybe, just maybe, a couple thousand people will be energized and ready to get back to resisting.