Saturday, September 17, 2016

Oliver Stone creates powerful film about Snowden

I went to see Snowden at the theater last night. I wanted to see it right away because I worried that it might not be in theaters for long and that it will get bad reviews because of its subject matter that is controversial to my government. I wanted to support one of my favorite filmmakers, and I was not disappointed.

Oliver Stone crafted a gripping and thought-provoking docudrama that informed me about the moral crisis experienced by Snowden and his progression toward it as he matured from a young genius to an adult who had to change his life in order to feel comfortable with his actions.

I highly recommend watching this movie. The intensity of drama when the journalists are meeting with him in Hong Kong still has me on edge from last night. The stakes are high for all involved. They are in possession of stolen top secret material and literally facing assassination at any moment. They're only hope is to get approval from their publications to go public with Snowden's evidence and whistleblowing. International media coverage could potentially save the journalists.

This is a complex movie but the pace moves along very well. Because I'm only in the initial stages of processing what I viewed last night, I'll make some points about what stood out for me.

  • The CIA instructor, Corbin, who acted as Snowden's mentor and admitted him to the program was clearly trying to indoctrinate the young man to a certain worldview. He wanted to groom Snowden as a cyber warrior and convince him of how essential it was for him to apply his talents to this endeavor. Snowden was an idealist who very much believed in the value of his country and wanted to take action to defend it. This relationship between the older and younger man illustrated the vulnerability of youth to the leadership of an elder who was willing to cultivate talent for purposes that were not pure of heart.
  • The movie also did an excellent job of educating me about the vast scope of surveillance capabilities. I probably should not even write this movie review! All information on cell phones, social media, email, chat, and the internet along with the constant collection of face imagery from omnipresent cameras can be accessed and searched by intelligence agencies. Anyone can be manipulated based on information collected about one's self, relatives, friends, or colleagues. If anyone believes they have nothing to hide, they are hopelessly naive. You have no idea what might be considered an offense now or in the future.
  • I also appreciated the footage integrated into the movie that showed the protesters worldwide expressing their complaints in the street about mass surveillance. I had not been exposed to any of these images before. Mostly because I don't consume much propaganda and because this type of material is not distributed by U.S. mainstream media.
  • Although the movie did not harp upon the subject of drone warfare, it did make clear that blowing up targets in remote countries had nothing to do with the mass surveillance of U.S. citizens. How could it? The whole proposition is utterly ludicrous. 

I went to this movie because I admire Edward Snowden. When the news about what he did broke, I immediately recognized him as a true patriot for American freedom and ideals. Although I always knew that any of my online activities were never private, I now know how careful I must be. In a techno tyranny no one is safe ever.

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