Edinburgh’s cinemas have their own, different feel. When I visit them, I’ll be writing about both the film and the place, giving you the organic experience. Film critics on the big scale can’t really cater for this, so I hope my reviews bring something extra in this respect.
11/12/16, Snowden / The World I Live In (2)
The Trans Remembrance Evening at Edinburgh University had been and gone, months of prep and then the release after a beautiful, intense evening. I wanted to watch a movie in the cinema again.
Not just any movie either, I had suddenly become politicized after reading an article by a journalist I respect, Jonathan Freedland in The Guardian, about this new post-fact, post-truth era of information. Because it made me reflect: no, Mr Freedland, for the extremely skewed representation of (pro)Israel/(anti)Palestine narrative that you and the mainstream have presented over the decades, you need to stop and think before you present the pre-Trump age as something golden. There has never, when you really think about it, been an era of truth. The difference was that the 'establishment' always controlled the news, back when there was usually only one source of news. Then Rupert Murdoch came along, to Britain in the late 70s, in the US in the late 90s, and changed the way the news was reported, in a break-away from the mainstream. Trump is one more groove in this new narrative. Now we have competing news narratives. In Britain and the US we have a completely prejudicial, non-impartial right-wing source of news, but how impartial is/was the other mainstream source, if you were outside it, or somehow a victim of it?
What I will say is that the world is certainly changing, at least in the West, where you have different sources of news. The boundaries and borders of countries are becoming irrelevant; the TV-news communities are becoming the new identity, and because of this, every election in every country will make one large segment of its population feel like they've woken up in a country they don't recognize. It happens now in America with every election, and it happened in Britain with Brexit too. Whoever wins will be hated by those who have lost. National populations have never been so divided; the future will continue in this way, I don't see how it could otherwise be, unless you live in a dictatorship and a single source of news.
Which brings me to the movie Snowden. I wanted something meaty, political, and relevant about our modern world. The film, directed by Oliver Stone, is a scary reminder of how the US government got caught trying to infiltrate the lives of every person around the world with access to a smart phone or internet-connected computer. This presents a separate threat and I'm glad a brave man called Snowden threw his career away for us, with his lucrative FBI salary and life in Hawaii as a highly-respected US agent. He could have said nothing, and carried on with a pretty enviable lifestyle. Would I be so brave? In only having a fraction of his talent or intelligence, I guess I'll never know.
The film, meanwhile? It was fine, a 3-star movie in some ways, but essential viewing in others. Every school child should watch this film and remember how close we were, and are, and could be again, to living in a world where a central authority knows everything we're doing and everything we say. And before you raise the, 'if you've got nothing to hide, you've got nothing to fear' argument, what happens if the people at the top become so corrupted by power that they try to avoid relinquishing it, or use their knowledge-based power to hide some bad deed they committed?
And on a personal note, what if transgender people become an illegal, pathological people once again? Before I came out, I expressed my trans self in a world of shadows; in a world where the government knows everything, there are no shadows.