How Terrible Cinema Can Save The World Or Maybe Not

snowden poster

Finally broke down, dear worst-reader. I splurged the 4,99-€ to rent Snowden last night. Do I regret it? In German the answer is: Jein. It’s a cross between ja (yes) and nein (no). I suppose the more significant question is: would I do it again–as in maybe even buy this movie so that I can play it when I want, how I want, if I want? F’n no! Luckily there’s not much to say about the movie other than… Well, it sucked. In that vein…

During the movie my better half was sick of me turning to her and sticking a finger down my throat. Barf! Especially the various lovey-dovey scenes between Snowden and his pole dancing girlfriend. My guess is Oliver Stone doesn’t really care at this point if his dialogue sucks. He obviously thinks there is a bigger story to be told. Yes, indeed, he thinks that.

I did perk up a few times, though. The scene where the NSA guy lies in front of Congress was pretty good. I even cracked a joke about how the NSA can lie to Congress and get away with it but when Clinton lied about a White House back room blowjob… Then there was the scene where Glenn Greenwald gets pissed at The Guardian and he threatens to go rogue. In fact, during this scene I paused the movie to explain to those watching what really happened–which is a mystery to me why Stone didn’t put this in the movie.

Glenn Greenwald did leave The Guardian and with the help of a mega-rich dotcom funder started the most expensive blog in history: The Intercept. As I’ve posted here, my biggest gripe with the whole Snowden ordeal is the fact that people like Greenwald, to this day, are sitting on all the data. It’s fine if Snowden thinks he was being strategic by giving his data to “responsible” journalists and that they should decide what/when to publish. I just disagree with having to leave it up to profiteering journalists to make that judgement. But I digress.

All in all, this film is horrible. The cinematography sucks. The editing sucks. The screenplay sucks. Etc., etc. Also. I learned nothing new about Snowden–which is the main reason I decided to watch it. Questions are still un-answered and/or un-addressed that I think are important and would have helped people better understand what is really going on with not only Edward Snowden but the entire US government apparatus that reared him. For example:

  • How did Snowden get on that flight to Moscow from Hong Kong? I mean, who let him on that flight? If THEY wouldn’t let him board a plane to South American, how was he able to get to Russia? If the people that were with him in Hong Kong arranged his flight, why wasn’t that in the film?
  • Why is it that The Guardian no longer publishes any of the material that it shared wth Greenwald and Ewen MacAskill?  Is The Intercept the sole publisher of the Snowden material now? Where is the rest of that material?
  • Where does Snowden come from? What are his beliefs? Considering the batshittery of #americant politics these days, I think it’s very important to know what these batshitters think, how they were raised, where they come from. For instance. Who is Edward Snowden’s father? I recall a few times in the news, early on, Snowden’s father was featured in reports with words like “libertarianism” and “freedom”. These words are thrown around like badmintion birdies at a drunk family picnic–especially when used by tea-party families. Again: Batshit radical right wing #americant is what got us into the mess we’re in. The scariest thing about Snowden is NOT is data-dump but how he thinks. The way he throws around the word Constitution, as though it’s a veil of sorts, is also a redflag. Indeed. The country is in quagmire of irrational exuberant misplaced patriotism, rightousness and all that jazz. A Mess. Mess. Mess.
  • The demonising of the CIA and the NSA, as Stone does it, is probably warranted but unnecessary for this story. I’m a big fan of Oliver Stone. I consider him a teacher. The way Stone portrays them here, though, is nothing more than opening a can of worms and then leaving the rest of us to sort it out. What a drag.

I could go on but I’ll leave it at that.

Good luck suckers.

Rant on.

-t

No Wag To Tail

no tail to wag.jpgBeckett the killer pug was taking me for a walk the other day while I listened to a podcast or three. After a few hours of peeing on trees and licking the dew from morning grass and counting the barges that traverse the Rhein, I decided enough was enough and told the old mutt to take me home. He did. He then fed me a late morning breakfast and proceeded to find a place on the couch to take a late morning nap. Motivated from a podcast and after consuming too much post nap coffee I decided to re-watch the movie Wag The Dog. I couldn’t remember the last time I saw it. But I’ve seen it at least once before going back to the early 2000s. I think I might have tried to watch it a second time after that but gave up on the film. I remember when the movie came out around 1997/8. It was somewhat of a hit within the stretched minds of German intellectuals–who always get a kick out of laughing at my beloved #americant. For the life of me, though, I couldn’t remember what the film was about. But I vividly remember that other 90s political film Primary Colors. Um.

Something obviously motivated me to re-watch Wag The Dog. Damn podcasts! So I purchased a rental verison of it via Apple’s krappy streaming system and by 5pm had consumed it. Then I realised something.

Say, this would be a good movie to watch with my über intellectual better-half.

I was sure she hadn’t seen it and since we’ve been going back and forth about Trump and #americant politics lately, this would be a good show starter for an evening of dilemma or love. Indeed. Since I was late at preparing dinner, I jumped to the task and whipped up something delicious (as usual). After feeding my better-half, I surprised her with…

Hey, baby. How ’bout a film?

Being the stoic German female she’s always been, I had to first inform her a bit about the movie, which I proceeded to do. Her skepticism aside, I poured her a glass of Spanish red wine, put the cheese and cracker plate on the table next to her couch and then hit the play button on the really, really stupid little aluminium Apple remote control device. Within the first twenty minutes she was bitten. By the time it was over she had loved both my cheese plate, the wine and was asking:

  1. Why hadn’t I seen it before?
  2. Why hadn’t I told her about it?

Short story long. It was a nice marital bonding evening. I guess. And so…

By the next morning the movie had triggered something in my mind. It took me back to the 90s when the world had learned the specificities of things like blowjobs and protein stains on blue dresses. In the film the president allegedly had an affaire with an underage girl. Technology in the form of network connected gadgets was gonna take us into the future. At the beginning of the movie there is a Palm Pilot device. And in order to be famous you should make a sextape with your gadgets that features blowjobs because in the future those sextapes, morally and ethically, will pale in comparison to what a broken society can be made to do after it’s been so thoroughly manipulated. Even though the sextapes have nothing to do with Wag The Dog, thinking of the 90s just brought that out of me. Indeed. While watching a film I was re-living a past worth forgetting and there were these titillating images of Paris Hilton, Kim Kardashian and a few stupid white people haunting humanity.

Why does the dog wag its tail?
Because a dog is smarter than its tail.
If the tail were smarter, it would wag the dog. (-BS from the beginning of the movie)

Back to the present.

How is it that a movie like Wag The Dog can be so misinterpreted so many years after its inception? Easy. It’s the same as with The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Comedy is ok as long as it stays funny. Go beyond funny…. That show was about one thing and one thing only. Make fun of politics. I’m sure its audience thought it was funny, too. You know, people thought that the show was actually political–or about politics and those stupid white men who are in it. But consider this, dear worst-reader. Making fun of something is no different than dismissing it. Dismissing something also means that you run from it. The grave error of Wag The Dog–or the error of people putting such a film on any kind of pedestal–is that in the end all one does is avoid reality. Another by-product of reality avoidance, btw, is conspiracy theorising.

In the podcast that motivated me to re-watch Wag The Dog, the film is lauded as a work of genius that fortold the future about how the #americant public can be easily manipulated. This fortelling, of course, is embodied in Robert DeNiro’s character who plays a kind of political spin-doctor for the president but actually looks like a professor that lost tenor. The podcast also mentioned how DeNiro & Co, in order to manipulate further, come up with things like The B-3 Bomber and a military special unit called The 303. The podcast was comparing all the krapp from the movie with what Trump is doing and, of course, how conspiratorial it all is. Oh my. This use of the number three, btw, is supposed to have some kind of conspiracy theory significance about the fate of the world–and more importantly the fate of #americants that both can’t pay their mortgage because they can’t afford the rest of their gluttonous credit card consumption or their God fearing sex practices that linger in their minds while being sexually repressed to the hilt. Oh my.

But before I get too off subject. The movie Primary Colors left a bit more of an impression on me because it didn’t have to use so much innuendo and conspiracy theorising to tell its story. It was basically the same movie but it got a bit closer to the self inflicted misery of a greed society run amok and how that society elects its politicians. It’s also a bit clearer about how those politicians actually behave in a game facilitated by an inept and ignorant society. Indeed. John Travolta deserved more recognition as President than Dustin Hoffman got as Producer. But then again, what do I know about movies?

And here’s the catcher that worst-writer should have been worst-writing about the whole time in this post.

David Mamet was in a bit of a feud over who should get screen writing credits for Wag The Dog. That about says everything about this film. Well, that and the fact that Primary Colors was pretty much being made at the same time says something, too. Mamet is without a doubt a brilliant writer but he also a money grubbing shitbag that thinks just like a faux newz old white man that never really found a place to put his cock or his misery so he puts it on others in the name of some kind of political ideology that, according to California, treads on me. Or maybe not.

Nomatter. I think I’m gonna re-watch Primary Colors in the hope that it will purge the nonsense of Wag The Dog from my system.

Rant on.

-t

#UnitedAirlines In Your Monopolies @ 30k Feet Below Laughter Of Automaton Galore Bigly Greatness

Hilarryus, dear worst-reader. Seriously. I’m laughing my ass off right now at #United Airlines gettin’ in the newz. Of course, it need not be mentioned that more than ten or so years ago, I also got booted from a United flight. The good newz is I didn’t actually get booted like this guy did. No. I never actually made it onto the plane that was supposed to connect me to my destination. I got booted from the international transfer terminal because I was so unruly at the ticket counter where an automaton United employee turned on her corporate trained behaviourist defence mode and literally shut down her station to avoid facing reality. I was connecting at Dulles Airport from London to Orlando. When I got to Dulles though there was no record of my ticket even though I had just flown from London on a United flight with a ticket that had a destination of Orlando. When I told the automaton worker that I wasn’t gonna leave the line until she did something about what was obviously her, i.e. United’s mistake, she left the counter and told the people behind me that they should find another line. Of course they all did exactly that. I stood there dumbfounded, angry, but not surprised. I was in #americant. The land of in-order-to-get-ahead you MUST fail upwards. It was/is indeed some God’s country of monopolisation or die trying (to get there).

Long story short.

It turns out that #United had actually allowed me to board in London without noticing that they had put the wrong name on my ticket. By-the-bye, this was post nine-eleven! And so… I boarded in London as Thomas (wrong-name) and flew eight hours to Dulles. When in Dulles the #United automaton said there was no record of me, according to the name on my passport, nor was there a ticket for me from London to Orlando. There was a record of “Thomas (wrong-name)”, though–as printed on the boarding pass I received in London. And because that name didn’t match my passport they said it wasn’t their problem.

“But I just flew with you from London with or without the right name. Now I’m stuck in the transfer terminal in Dulles. What the hell do I do now?”

An airport employee ended up telling me that I had to exit the terminal and deal with United from the outside. The whole ordeal cost me a night in a hotel, a missed flight to my destination and the undue stress of having to deal with corporate #americant where “corporations are people too, my friend.” (Mitt Romney.)

So it’s no surprise to me that a monopoly industry would resort to this type of behaviour in its daily activities. And who facilitated the airline industry turning into a monopoly? That’s right, dear worst-reader. You guessed it. #Americant did. Now go vote your feelings and allow the conservatives to turn your country into the politburo corporate moneyed governing entity that it was always meant to be. And don’t forget:

Make #americant greatness again. Suckers!

Links that motivated this post:

Rant on.

-t

Becoming What We Defeat

days of destruction days of revolt cover.jpg

The chapters of this book are titled Days Of…

  • Theft
  • Siege
  • Devastation
  • Slavery
  • Revolt

Each chapter of this book takes place in a particular city or town of my beloved #americant. Each chapter goes deeper than the previous into the negative of what makes a once great country no longer great again. And each chapter features characters that were interviewed by Chris Hedges.  But before I get into the good, first this. The only problem I have with this book is 1) other than the chapter Days of Revolt, it doesn’t really inform (me) about what is going on back home that I didn’t already know and 2) the comics–or as others might put–the graphic novel sections of this book–felt to me to be more in the way than on the way. I guess I’m not a fan of comics–sorry, graphic novels. But I am interested in reading and/or owning the graphic novel Watchmen–and I already own Maus. But I digress.

I read Hedge’s American Fascist and Empire of Illusion a few years ago. Since then I’ve been reading his articles on truthdig.com. Unfortunately, not much from his books have stuck with me. That’s not because of Hedges, though. In fact, I’m a big fan of his speeches that are numerous on youtube. It’s just that, well, I guess I’ve started to lose my intellect. Either that or I just don’t give a sh*t anymore (about certain things). I suppose, in a way, I can easily blame such a loss on the frequency that I visit my beloved #americant or the amount of stuff I read about it (her)–which has been quite a bit since my step-father past and my mother isn’t getting any younger and #eurowasteland politics bores the krapp out of me. Indeed. Each visit to my beloved homeland has been scarier and scarier and scarier. My most recent visit, just last month, set new heights regarding what can come of a nation suffering from something that is no less than pathological. America really is starting to look and feel like a land of zombies. In fact, I bought Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt to accompany the trip.

I managed to read two-thirds of the book on the flight to PHL and within the first few days of my arrival. Then I got sick as a dog as the weather in Maryland was worse than in Germany. I mean, I froze my butt off the first few days I was there. And it’s not that I’m not used to cold weather. I guess I’m not used to going from far north Germania, where it was warm, to somewhat southerly Atlantic coast Maryland and freezing my a$$ off. So. Yeah. I got sick. And then I got caught up in the all work I’m supposed to do when visiting my mom. It’s just that my sickness didn’t want to go away. Of my two week visit, I was out of it for almost ten days with the worst head-cold and flu that I’ve had in years. I ended up finishing this book when I got back to Germany. But, again, I digress.

By-the-bye, I got lost in Camden, NJ, once, which is featured in one of the chapters of this book, after I switched my Atlantic flight destination from Dulles Airport to PHL (from Frankfurt). Back then there was no GPS to guide me and I made a few wrong turns leaving PHL and the next thing I know I’m in NJ. Aghast! Other than the panic that ensued being a caucasian driving a rental car through Camden, I remember vividly the landscape of #americant that was nothing new to me. It was just another broken place. In fact, a city like Camden looked as familiar as the small coal mining town my step-father grew up in that has been decimated like any other with mine and plant closings galore. To me, these places are all part of Reganomics and neoliberal greed politics that #americants have been voting for–a world that I was able to get out of so many years ago. As I follow all the goings-on back home, it’s sometimes hard to have mercy on those who are obviously too stupid to see what they are doing to themselves. I guess, in a way, I saw it all coming–first hand! Camden, NJ, is everywhere in the US. It’s everywhere there’s an abandoned strip mall, more potholes than asphalt on highways, it’s in every dive-bar where jaundice drunks occupy the rundown churches as much as the rundown Walmarts and every–EVERYONE!–is screaming about making something great again. Yes. Everywhere.

With that in mind, this book didn’t do much for me on the learning front. Except for the last chapter. Indeed. The last chapter, Days of Revolt, saved this book because I haven’t read enough about the Occupy Movement that, to me, seemed to come and go as fast as a rational thought on #americant cable TV news.  On top of that, Hedges manages to make a connection that has been lingering in the back of my mind for years. When people ask me “why Germany” I usually just tell them it’s because of the girls and the beer. But sometimes I’ll break down and give them the real reason. It was the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 that brought me to my expatriation–because I was right in the middle of it. And it was not just the joy of living in the end of the Cold War. It was the fact that the idear of authoritarian rule was finally gonna end. In those days I never thought in terms of America being the centre of the universe–whether it’s great or great-again. To me, the idear of how the people in Eastern Europe were able to discard the authority of The Soviets without violence was beyond mesmerising. Never in my wildest childhood Cold War dreams did I think it could happen. And even though the whole movement didn’t start in East Germany, the fall of that Wall will forever be my beacon. And then there’s the connection I started to make–not unlike Hedges makes in the final chapter of this book.

A quarter century has passed since the fall of the Berlin Wall. Neoliberalism is rampant and unabated in the western world not unlike an opposite ideology was rampant in Eastern Europe thirty years ago. The result of having gotten rid of the authoritarian rule of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union hasn’t quite turned out to be what it should be. Or? In my worst-opinion, the west has become the thing we defeated. Hedges manages to see this in the last chapter of this book. And so. I’ve always wondered where are the revolutionists that would call out the West for what it has become. Is that revolutionist Chris Hedges? It might just be. Or was it the movement that came and went with the Wall Street Occupiers in Liberty Square, NY, in 2011? I don’t know. What I do know, though, is that there is a heavy irony when considering what #americant has done to itself and subsequently the world since the fall of the Soviet Union. Just look deeply at our response to September 11, 2001, including the subsequent largest government expansion since… And check out those bank bailouts and the amount of consumer credit run amok. And then there’s the recent election that has given the world Trump & awe….

Why has no one been able to see the connection to a not-so-distant past with all that has happened in this still somewhat young new century? Ok. At least Chris Hedges has seen it. I think I have too. So. What the heck. Let history repeat itself.

Good luck suckers.

Rant on.

-t