Snowden

I still feel adrift about this story. Still, it seems like someone pointing out things that were already well-known and having everyone act as if it’s new information. This isn’t a matter of the emperor wearing no clothes and just now someone admits it. This is years of people saying “the emperor has no clothes” and finally someone says “look, I fake making clothes for the emperor” and that’s all of a sudden big news.

Plus, I remain nervous about his disappearing to Hong Kong in order to release this news. I mean, I know Hong Kong isn’t exactly China. And I respect that he is in fear of his life. And China is more our frenemy than some kind of USSR 2.0. But I find it absurd that Snowden thinks that Hong Kong is some bastion of civil liberties. I just don’t believe that he actually thinks that. So, if he didn’t go to Hong Kong for the civil liberties protections, why did he go there? Until I feel assured it wasn’t to share what he’s found with China before sharing it with the American people, I’m wary of treating him like a hero, even if I don’t feel confident that he’s some great enemy of the state. I just have mixed, ambivalent feelings about him.

But most of all, I’m completely stunned that people think most Americans are going to give a shit about this. Go back and look at every fucking piece of pop culture since 2002. We enjoy the fantasy of a government that can get into everything and follow us around electronically. And, frankly, just like CSI convinced a generation of juries that you should be able to get DNA in a few minutes and use facial recognition software to get a match instantly, Hollywood has convinced us that our government should be capable–for better or for worse–of instantly knowing everything about us This isn’t a matter of right or wrong, because we’ve been shown it being “right” and we’ve been show it being “wrong.” But in both cases, pop culture has been making the argument that this is a capability a government has, or should have.

People in this country might not want that power turned on them, but they are not going to give a shit about–and in fact, I’d argue, would actively support–it being used against “those” people.

And the disconnect between the people trying to make hay about this and that fact just irritates me so much. Though it should be, this isn’t obviously wrong. And I wish people would do a better job of articulating just what’s wrong with it.

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Hansel and Gretel: Terrible Movie, Critics’ Wet Dream, or Both?

Holy shit! We watched that Hansel and Gretel movie with that dude in it last night and it was amazing. It made me wish I were a dual historian/women’s studies professor so that I could spend a week in all of my classes watching this movie, turning to fifteen to thirty people and saying “What the fuck? How is this possible in this day and age?”

I mean, I expected to feel uncomfortable as someone who enjoys a little woo in her life, watching witches as bad guys. But this is not an anti-witch movie so much as it’s just a–and I do not use this word in this instance lightly–misogynistic blow-out. You want to see women getting punched, shot, kicked, smashed, decapitated, tortured, burned alive, and threatened with being raped to death? Were you hungry to relive the days in which every powerful woman simply must be a creature of Satan? Perhaps, among all the violence against women, you wanted to see a light-hearted sequence where a teenage boy tries to touch the breasts of an injured and unconscious woman and it’s played for laughs?

And, even the violence against women aspect aside, the biggest problem with the movie is that it’s not some great think-piece, but by the end of it, it’s not clear that the witches are wrong about people and our best use maybe being as witch food. I mean, the witches are terrible, but they are terrible to everyone equally. The things the villagers do and allow to happen in the name of “justice” or “safety” are laughably vile. These are the shits we’re supposed to be in sympathy with?

For instance, one of the witches starts a rumor that Hansel and Gretel’s mom is a witch (this is true because every adult female character in the movie with the exception of one is, but the villagers don’t know this). The villagers burn her alive and then hang to the death Hansel and Gretel’s father. Then, a bit later, Hansel gives a brief speech on revenge and you think, “Oh, great, he also got revenge on the village.” But no! Just killing the witch that started the rumor was revenge. The sick fucks who would actually kill a couple who have never harmed them, against whom they have no actual proof? Those guys I guess just need to be understood.

The whole thing was just bizarre. But I reiterate: if you’re looking for something to show people that illustrates how these kinds of historical slanders work, this is a great contemporary example.