Take a Drink: for each cryptic email (literally or figuratively)
Take a Drink: for each new story of government malfeasance
Take a Drink: for… I think Orwell called it Doublespeak
Take a Drink: whenever Snowden acts paranoid (keep in mind, he knows what is possible)
Do a Shot: Thanks Obama! And they wonder why we don’t vote anymore.
By: Henry J. Fromage (A Toast) –
Today it’s common to joke about being under surveillance. Better not post that on Facebook, haha. All those weird porn sites? Some egghead’s cataloging them as we speak. Better watch out what you search for on Google!
This will follow you. Forever.
We all sort of know this is the world we live in now, but we don’t take it seriously. We don’t act like we believe it’s true. It’s true, and Citizenfour demonstrates this to devastating effect. Director Lauren Poitras was one of the first people contacted by Edward Snowden after he decided to reveal the extent of the NSA’s espionage activities on private citizens and communications around the globe, and she documents him and Glenn Greenwald strategizing how to make these revelations as they do it. Watching Citizenfour is literally watching history unfold before our eyes.
I could go on and on about the merits of Citizenfour as a film, and they are many. Poitras uses the cheap digital RED cameras that have revolutionized low-budget filmmaking in the last several years as well as editing and Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross’s unsettling score to deliver a truly cinematic experience of material that could come off as dry to some folks. It thrills like The Insider or Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, but this is really happening, as we watch it. Snowden and the others’ paranoia is based in their reality, and it shows. We know with benefit of hindsight that no tactical team is going to break down their door and drag them to some CIA black site… but they don’t.
Eat your heart out, John Le Carré
Another effect of the film is the humanizing of Snowden. His meeting with Poitras, Greenwald, and other journalists play like an inside baseball snapshot of whistleblowing on one of the most powerful and far-reaching institutions in the world, but we also got a feel for him as a person. He comes off as a razor-sharp, highly principled man nervous in the face of seismic decisions both for his nation and his family and longtime girlfriend. Also, he kind of laughs like Seth Rogen.
Do all Pinko liberals laugh alike? Details at 7.
Much more important than only vicarious thrills or historical intrigue is Citizenfour‘s message. The automated surveillance systems that Snowden blew the whistle on present what is simply the greatest tool for oppression ever devised. I’m not saying it’s being used as such at the moment (although there are stories), but the simple fact that it does exist, entirely outside the normal checks and balances of our supposedly ideal democratic society, should scare the shit out of you. A tool is a tool, and its very existence means that the capability exists for it to be wielded.
As a citizen of planet Earth in 2015, you need to watch this. Perhaps you can joke it all away, or perhaps you can find it in yourself to trust an agency and administration (just know, Republicans and Democrats are one and the same on this issue) which have demonstrated time and again their disregard for democratic limits, but we all deserve to be informed at fucking least.