Tag Archive: propaganda


Do not betray your dreams or your goals, for to do so is to betray yourself, to deny the value of your own life. It is true that “you only live once,” but that is not the whole story. Not only do you only live your life once, but you also only live each moment once, and then it is gone. Each moment not spent in the pursuit of something more should be a moment used to recharge from all of the other moments spent in this manner. Make every moment count, and let every feeling be tied to a dream.

No matter how crazy your dreams may seem, never let their craziness stand in their own way. Don’t let anything or anyone stand in their way, especially you. No matter how possible or impossible…if it is possible, do it. If it is impossible, fight to make it possible, not just for you but for everyone.

It may take time, it may take failure, it may take heartache, it may take risk, but your parents took a risk by bringing you into this world. For whatever reason, they took the risk of creating a human life, someone who can hurt, and suffer, but who can accomplish things that might give the suffering a purpose.

Never believe that it is too late, but remember that your time is limited. You might have to refine your dreams as you go along, or pause on them as you take care of other things. You might make mistakes that can seem to take the dream away from you. This is why you must be careful, to guard your freedom, your avenues, your alliances, your friendships, the ones that cheer you on and believe in you, and not give in to the voices of doubt and infirmity that so many other people listen to and that are screamed at them from every turret.

You can stand above those voices, as a yes-voice, a voice that can say to others, “I believed in myself, in my dream, and I made it happen. I didn’t listen to the sad, the beaten, the destroyed, the cynical, even though I felt this way sometimes. I listened to my faith in my dream, to my confidence in my own desires, to my heart and my head working in perfect harmony towards what I knew had a chance of making me happy. It wasn’t easy, it wasn’t short, perhaps it didn’t even turn out exactly the way I thought it would. And I’ll never be truly happy, never be truly content, or finished. But I didn’t use that as an excuse. I didn’t fall back on the safe and secure, on what was provided for me. I struggled for what I believe in, and saw it through, from one part of my life to the next: from a dream to a reality.”

Reality is beautiful, but it is in the minority. It is rare, endangered, and sought-after, not to be distributed far and wide, or beheld in all its beauty, but to be hoarded away by misers or crushed by misanthropes. If you want reality, you’re going to have to fight for it. But whatever it is, keep this in the back of your mind: your dream, much like your life, much like the world we live in, is always worth saving, improving, and fighting for. Feel pity for anyone who says otherwise, and rage at the voices that convinced them.

Since the way one lives is defined in large part by one’s governmental system, it follows that the presence of government is in every expression of how one lives. What one can do or is not allowed to do is demonstrated in actions such as walking in public, sleeping soundly at night, ordering something online, going to a restaurant, and giving money to charity. The more one defines one’s way of living by means that conform to the prevalent governmental system, the greater is the government aware of how a person lives. Freedoms under a certain form of government, therefore, serve the purpose of shaping the lifestyles of those who live under that government, and the purpose of those lifestyles is to inform the government which freedoms those who live under it choose to utilize.

The freedoms, and the corresponding expression to which they are put to use, allow the government to know how people are living, and it is the choices of government that inform those lifestyles: whether they are introduced or discontinued, narrowed or expanded. So the more freedoms we are allowed, the fewer forms of authentic revolt (i.e. freedom against authority) exist. Or rather, the way that freedoms are allowed is to limit and calculate the power of the individual or group to self-determine, outside of accepted norms of freedom.

Put yet another way, when freedom is “allowed,” it is inauthenticated.

For example, we are allowed the freedoms to marry, to work, and to be secure from harm. However, if we choose to exercise our freedom to marry outside of government’s definition of marriage, to set our own terms for our work, or to secure ourselves from harm by way of self-defense measures, certain elements of these “unconventional” lifestyle choices inform the government that we are attempting to self-determine the ways in which these freedoms are manifested. By extension, a lack of unconventionality (a subjective term, of course) in our choices informs the government that we accept the definitions of freedom that have been presented to us.

In effect, this acceptance constitutes acceptance of the entire governmental system. By contrast, those who take issue with marriage laws, labor laws, and gun laws are often at variance with one or another fundamental way that that entire government functions, whether they are aware of it or not. In a democracy, they are against the attitudes of those political demographics that contradict their beliefs. Those who make no distinction between bourgeois and proletarian democracy conceptualize democracy’s main failing as that element of it that allows for a plurality of voices. Those who DO make that distinction will blame their grievance on the failings of whatever group controls the democracy: bourgeoisie or proletariat.

In a totalitarian state as opposed to a democratic one, such unconventional folks as described above are against the individuals who shape public policy; therefore they resent the concept of a government based on a tiny group that controls the freedoms of an entire population. Apt propaganda models necessary for the maintenance of that totalitarian state may succeed in redirecting that individual’s resentment toward herself and at her desire for change, sometimes manifested in the promotion of victim-blaming that characterizes highly hierarchical societies, along with a “that’s just the way it is” and a “strength is acceptance” mentality. That is part of this subject, but worthy of entirely separate discussion.

In a hybrid of democratic and totalitarian, unconventional folks are against both the majority and individuals “at the top.” They are in one way or another against the demographics who accept the state as it is, who assent to it, and who continue to democratically return it to power. And, they are against the small group of individuals who control the government, from within and/or from without.

The demographics who assent to it, however, are always of greater number and constitute “the majority,” otherwise, the system of government as it is or the contentious tenets of it would come to an end. Assent and acceptance manifests itself in every prevailing function of that society: cost and price, culture, work schedules, tax rates, legal systems, social services, labor laws, regulations, education systems, public transportation systems, prison systems, defense spending, all forms of legislation, et cetera. That is to say, if a bus runs late, a prison is overfilled, or a war is being fought abroad, it is because the majority of the population has consented to it or allowed it to reach its current state of function or malfunction. And the voluntary use of any function of that society–as part of one’s lifestyle–represents tacit endorsement of that function.

This applies to elements of society at every level of functionality. Societal elements functioning at a high level, such as America’s system of obtaining lines of credit, its friendliness to business big and small, and its preponderance of low-cost luxury goods, possess an equal level of public consent as those societal elements that function at a low level, such as its “broken” healthcare system, debt-ridden public education system, and police-instigated violence. Efforts to legally reform these elements are welcomed as exercises in democracy; however, attempting to correct these issues in unconventional ways–for example, practicing lay medicine, self-educating or providing education for free, or forming a people’s police force “to police the police”–are widely seen as invalid means of correcting the problem. In fact, they are often viewed as self-serving and counterproductive by those who hold the actions of politicians, not the actions of the people (beyond voting), as the deciding force in the formation of society itself.

The freedoms, then, are aimed at those segments of society that fully accept the governmental system. Altering, expanding, or self-determining freedom (including but not limited to a criminal sense) constitutes rejection of the system. That is the purpose of these freedoms and their use: to demonstrate to what extent each individual consents to her governmental system, and to what extent she disagrees with it, based on her use of them and on which freedoms she uses without compromising either the letter or spirit of their legality.

Those with limited access to freedoms, therefore, are immediately assumed to be less consenting to the governmental system because they use fewer of its freedoms. In truth, some element of “against society-ness” is intrinsic to a person’s ability to take advantage of the benefits of that society. Put in plain English, if a person cannot enjoy the freedoms of a society, that person is against it, either consciously or unconsciously. And the society is against that person. To use a controversial example, a transgender woman of color who lacks the social resources and personal security seemingly reserved for a cisgender white male will necessarily be against those aspects of the society (laws, prejudices, cultural artifacts, et cetera) that create the conditions in which she is deprived of those resources and security.

To draw on our totalitarian example above, it falls on the shoulders of the government to create the ideological conditions by which she blames herself rather than her governmental system. By this means, it can maintain both her inability to access freedom (because it is never demanded) and her status as an aberration or “other” within “mainstream” society.

In countries with absent, inefficient, or in-transition governments, the way people live is determined by the prevalent conflicts of the time. Inaccessibility to public services informs the individual’s “decision” to tighten her financial belt, while street violence in the midst of armed conflict informs her “decision” to keep her children home from school. In this way, it is the form of government (a government of austerity, or a lack of government entirely) that defines (read: controls) her lifestyle choices.

Armed conflict is the conflict between two groups or forces of the populace, whether advocating for the liberation of one segment of society or death to another (Left-wing or Right-wing). Both sides believe “their way” (which is really the way of the leaders and firstly of the ideology itself) is better and more just, or will lead to more power, influence, and personal security, or a confluence of these two motivating factors.

To get back to our original idea: to notice what’s not there is to feel aware of the presence of government in a purchase, an object, a decision, a piece of culture, an outlook, an alliance, a prejudice, or a hope/despair–in a freedom–and though that presence can’t be proven or seen to be an objective force, to know that it wouldn’t have been made or exist without the influence and contrivances of government, and that the government knows about it because if couldn’t know about it, it would not allow it.

As a hermeneutic device, this noticing provides us with the ability to identify by counterexample those aspects of our ideas, possessions, and behaviors that are self-manifested and that challenge the intended definitions of freedom, constituting a self-manifested freedom, existing outside the view of the government, until the noun reaches that point when no governmental presence can be noticed by looking at it or experiencing it. And then we will know we have a true freedom transcending all possible rules of allowance by any governmental system or any aspiring one. We must be ready to defend it immediately from the government and its civilian agents, whatever its form or forum, for it is at this point that the communication runs in the opposite direction, and in the direction it must run: instead of the government dictating to us the ways in which we can live our lives to the end, WE will be dictating to THEM the manner in which their rule will come to an end. The only type of freedom that can destroy both the totalitarian oligarchy and the chokehold of manufactured majoritarian consent and create the world we want—where the purpose of government is to protect our ability to self-manifest our freedoms and concomitant lifestyles—is that which is not an allowance on the part of the government, but a demand on the part of the people for freedoms that are their own ends, not means by which to control us, unnoticed.

I’m reposting this review just so it’ll be next to all the other reviews I’m posting. Hope you like it, for the first or second time 🙂

Spoiler Alert. There are lots of spoilers.

“Zero Dark Thirty” is a worthless piece of shit. It reduces all Arabs to two forms of the same subjugated stereotype: either terrorist or collaborator. Chastain acts like she’s talking to her cat, or some other entity that she thinks is incapable of judgment. The filmmakers would probably counter that her character is supposed to be “no-nonsense,” “emotionally detached in service to her country,” et cetera, but you know something? I don’t go to the movies to watch mannequins. I go to watch human beings. I think that’s a pretty reasonable request.

Speaking of human beings, the white guy Paul Newman wannabe who does the torturing in the first scene is just Joe Sixpack enough to represent conservative middle-America, while also having enough heart to possess pet monkeys (apparently), for the “more compassionate” viewers to relate to: basically, for the wimpster Obama voters who seek a rationale for the “War on Terror” that Barack never officially ended or Gitmo that he never closed. This disheveled-looking Paul Newman guy is just civilized—calm, rational, t-shirt wearing, non-sadistic, just-doing-his-job—enough while torturing people to make torture look civilized.

The blocking and editing of the film are like Law and Order: Criminal Intent: basic, dull, pedestrian. All it’s missing is that orchestral “DUHN-DUHN” between scenes. (By the way, a little exchange from a L&O: CI episode called “Scared Crazy”: Dr Lady: “We’re fighting terrorism.” Goren: “WITH terrorism.” P.S. He doesn’t approve.) Chastain and Paul Newman evoke Tolkien and Bob Marley in a movie about torturing people. Why? Two reasons: to make their characters seem real (and moral), and to make it look like this movie has anything to do with the actual world we live in. It’s pitiful and sacrilegious. Why not mention Gandhi as well? Or Beyonce?

The Arab who gets tortured in the first scene is just light-skinned enough to make the whole scene NOT look exactly like two white people torturing a brown person, which could come off as racist, keeping in mind America and the West’s long history of enslaving, torturing, and killing non-white people. In a moment of totally shameless American exceptionalism (not to mention sloppy writing), Chastain talks about how she was “spared” after a suicide bombing basically so she could finish the job of taking out bin Laden, as though some sort of fate or divine destiny is leading her effort, and not monomoniacal ambition, or bloodlust, or whatever it is. The CIA leader guy (her boss) says “I don’t give a fuck about bin Laden,” and that the specific terror cells should be focused on, to which Chastain (in her only scene of what appears to be consensual acting) replies that bin Laden is responsible for all of their terror acts and that if we kill him, the terrorism will cease, with which we are provided no evidence at all. In fact, what he says makes a lot more sense. He shuts her down flat with the unfortunately sexist and mental-illness-phobic, “You’re out of your fucking mind,” but it still feels good to see her put in her place. (What?! This is what I’m taking pleasure in? Women being put in their place? This is the character I’m supposed to want to WIN! This movie is poisoning me!)

By the way, why are there a notable number of apparently powerful women in this movie? Is this based on anything that happened in “real life”? Or is it post-genderal Liberal Hollywood idealism in a film that takes James Frey-esque liberties with “what really happened”? I think it’s good to depict women in positions of power in order to challenge expected gender roles, but where is the truth of this so-called true story? Who ordered these things to happen? Was it a guy or a girl? These things matter. When she states with “100%” certainty that bin Laden is in Abottabad, she convinces people with her confidence alone, not with any actual incontrovertible evidence. Is that the feminine mystique working? Are women not as burdened with the burden of proof as men are because they happen to be attractive and redheaded? Where is her superior ability? Where is her high place on the knowledge hierarchy? Bigelow does women a disservice with this one.

In terms of writing: In one scene, Chastain appears to be narrating to the audience in crass vernacular. Then it turns out she’s writing an email. With scenes like this, Bigelow’s desire to mix common accessibility with serious Sorkin-esque technical dialogue collapses into a sagging, poorly acted, toneless, babblefest of mumbling, mannerless, totally un-engaging young actors with unfamiliar faces. Part of why the dialogue suffers is that it’s all a means to an end: the climactic killing of the man most hated by Americans since Hitler. In an early scene, she describes anti-American forces as “radicals, not interested in money,” just so the audience understands that having passion and righteous indignation and NOT doing things for money makes you a “radical”…hey wait! Doesn’t that mean America is radical too, if we’re NOT in this region of the world for money, but instead because we were brutally attacked? So then we ARE in this region because we’re interested in money? OIL MONEY, perhaps? It’s amazing that Bigelow would choose to make such an anti-establishment point in her big Hollywood movie!

Hold on, this is an anti-Arab propaganda film. We have to make the freedom-haters look irrational, crazy, and dispositionally unrelatable. And if you don’t care about money, you’re irrational. Simple.

Seeing as the CIA was obviously okay with torture, and yet Bigelow wanted to screw around with the facts for more “drama” (since it’s “only a movie”), why not have her main character say “STOP TORTURING HIM!” in that first scene, so that not only do we like her as a character, but also Bigelow can directly CHALLENGE any pro-torture narrative in a big Hollywood movie and expose torture as not only ineffective but highly immoral and unacceptable? But no. She reflects status quo pro-torture opinions for greater “drama” and to give us Americans the emotional charge of seeing lily-white people beating up helpless Arabs. Is it dramatic to her to torture her audience with these plastic, emotionless zombie-characters? The lack of recognizable actors in the movie was probably to save money, since everyone who comes to see “Zero Dark Thirty” is only waiting for that climactic scene with bin Laden anyway, and doesn’t care who’s on the screen or what they’re saying all that much anyway.

I don’t trust, know, or care about any of these characters. I can’t remember any of their names, and I’m not interested in their specific relationships. There are one or two short scenes involving characters’ personal lives, essentially included for no other reason than to make this look like a real movie and not just a pure propaganda piece. Zero Dark Thirty’s main problem is that everything prior to the killing of bin Laden is just a means to reaching that end; that’s the only reason anyone came to see this starless piece of crap (oh, and because it’s “controversial” about torture). Everything that happens is foreplay to obtaining the emotional release of watching huge muscular guys storming a compound and killing a terrorist in a massive “fuck yeah” pro-America circle jerk. It sure is nice having superior weapons and equipment!

The final scene, of Chastain crying while sitting in the helicopter, mixes stupid dialogue (“Where do you want to go?” the pilot asks her, as though that wouldn’t be arranged by SOMEONE beforehand), with the image of the poor sad white lady crying now that her life’s work has been accomplished at the young age of 22 or whatever. In reality, this shot is intended to make white Americans look compassionate. “Look,” we’re supposed to say, “war is so hard and terrible, even WE can’t take it sometimes, AND WE CREATE IT!”

Lastly, the fact that the CIA relies on Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini, the only bit of casting that makes you say “huh”) to plan a “hit” on bin Laden demonstrates America’s devotion to images of power.

Save your time, save your money, save your mind, and just do some internet research about torture to get the real truth and the real drama and the real characters, everything Bigelow could’ve included if she’d really wanted to make an actual movie.

“Zero Dark Thirty” is a worthless piece of shit. It reduces all Arabs to two forms of the same subjugated stereotype: either terrorist or collaborator. Chastain acts like she’s talking to a cat, or some other entity that she thinks is incapable of judgment. The filmmakers would probably counter that her character is supposed to be “no-nonsense,” “emotionally detached in service to her country,” et cetera, but you know something? I don’t go to the movies to watch mannequins. I go to watch human beings. I think that’s a pretty reasonable request.

Speaking of human beings, the white guy Paul Newman wannabe who does the torturing in the first scene is just Joe Sixpack enough to represent conservative middle-America, while also having enough heart to possess pet monkeys (apparently), for the “more compassionate” viewers to relate to: basically, for the wimpster Obama voters who seek a rationale for the “War on Terror” that Barack never officially ended or Gitmo that he never closed. This disheveled-looking Paul Newman guy is just civilized—calm, rational, t-shirt wearing, non-sadistic, just-doing-his-job—enough while torturing people to make torture look civilized.

The blocking and editing of the film are like Law and Order: Criminal Intent: basic, dull, pedestrian. All it’s missing is that orchestral “DUHN-DUHN” between scenes. (By the way, a little exchange from a CI episode called “Scared Crazy”: Dr Lady: “We’re fighting terrorism.” Goren: “WITH terrorism.” P.S. He doesn’t approve.) Chastain and Paul Newman evoke Tolkien and Bob Marley in a movie about torturing people. Why? To make their characters seem real and to make it look like this movie has anything to do with reality. It’s pitiful and sacrilegious. Why not mention Gandhi as well? Or Beyonce?

The Arab who gets tortured in the first scene is just light-skinned enough to make the whole scene NOT look exactly like two white people torturing a brown person, which could come off as racist, keeping in mind America’s long history of enslaving, torturing, and killing non-white people. In a moment of totally shameless American exceptionalism (not to mention sloppy writing), Chastain talks about how she was “spared” after a suicide bombing basically so she could finish the job of taking out bin Laden, as though some sort of fate or divine destiny is leading her effort, and not monomoniacal ambition, or bloodlust, or whatever it is. The CIA leader guy (her boss) says “I don’t give a fuck about bin Laden,” and that the specific terror cells should be focused on, to which Chastain (in her only scene of what appears to be consensual acting) replies that bin Laden is responsible for all of their terror acts and that if we kill him, the terrorism will cease, with which we are provided no evidence at all. In fact, what he says makes a lot more sense. He shuts her down flat with the unfortunately sexist and mental-illness-phobic, “You’re out of your fucking mind,” but it still feels good to see her put in her place. (What?! This is what I’m taking pleasure in? Women being put in their place? This is the character I’m supposed to want to WIN! This movie is poisoning me!)

By the way, why are there a notable number of apparently powerful women in this movie? Is this based on anything that happened in “real life”? Or is it post-genderal Liberal Hollywood idealism in a film that takes James Frey-esque liberties with “what really happened”? I think it’s good to depict women in positions of power in order to challenge expected gender roles, but where is the truth of this so-called true story? Who ordered these things to happen? Was it a guy or a girl? These things matter. When she states with “100%” certainty that bin Laden is in Abottabad, she convinces people with her confidence alone, not with any actual incontrovertible evidence. Is that the feminine mystique working? Are women not as burdened with the burden of proof as men are because they happen to be attractive and redheaded? Where is her superior ability? Where is her high place on the knowledge hierarchy? Bigelow does women a disservice with this one.

In terms of writing: In one scene, Chastain appears to be narrating to the audience in crass vernacular. Then it turns out she’s writing an email. With scenes like this, Bigelow’s desire to mix common accessibility with serious Sorkin-esque technical dialogue collapses into a sagging, poorly acted, toneless, babblefest of mumbling, mannerless, totally un-engaging young actors with unfamiliar faces. Part of why the dialogue suffers is that it’s all a means to an end: the climactic killing of the man most hated by Americans since Hitler. In an early scene, she describes anti-American forces as “radicals, not interested in money,” just so the audience understands that having passion and righteous indignation and NOT doing things for money makes you a “radical”…hey wait! Doesn’t that mean America is radical too, if we’re NOT in this region of the world for money, but instead because we were brutally attacked? So then we ARE in this region because we’re interested in money? OIL MONEY, perhaps? It’s amazing that Bigelow would choose to make such an anti-establishment point in her big Hollywood movie!

Hold on, this is an anti-Arab propaganda film. We have to make the freedom-haters look irrational, crazy, and dispositionally unrelatable. And if you don’t care about money, you’re irrational.

Seeing as the CIA was obviously okay with torture, and yet Bigelow wanted to screw around with the facts for more “drama” (since it’s “only a movie”), why not have her main character say “STOP TORTURING HIM!” in that first scene, so that not only do we like her as a character, but also Bigelow can directly CHALLENGE any pro-torture narrative in a big Hollywood movie and expose torture as not only ineffective but highly immoral and unacceptable? But no. She reflects status quo pro-torture opinions for greater “drama” and to give us Americans the emotional charge of seeing lily-white people beating up helpless Arabs. Is it dramatic to her to torture her audience with these plastic, emotionless zombie-characters? The lack of recognizable actors in the movie was probably to save money, since everyone who comes to see “Zero Dark Thirty” is only waiting for that climactic scene with bin Laden anyway, and doesn’t care who’s on the screen or what they’re saying all that much anyway.

I don’t trust, know about, or care about any of these characters. I can’t remember any of their names, and I’m not interested in their specific relationships. There are one or two short scenes involving characters’ personal lives, essentially included for no other reason than to make this look like a real movie and not just a pure propaganda piece. Zero Dark Thirty’s main problem is that everything prior to the killing of bin Laden is just a means to reaching that end; that’s the only reason anyone came to see this starless piece of crap (oh, and because it’s “controversial” about torture). Everything that happens is foreplay to obtaining the emotional release of watching huge muscular guys storming a compound and killing a terrorist in a massive “fuck yeah” pro-America circle jerk. It sure is nice having superior weapons and equipment!

The final scene, of Chastain crying while sitting in the helicopter, mixes stupid dialogue (“Where do you want to go?” the pilot asks her, as though that wouldn’t be arranged by SOMEONE in advance), with the image of the poor sad white lady crying now that her life’s work has been accomplished at the young age of 22 or whatever. In reality, this shot is intended to make white Americans look compassionate. “Look,” we’re supposed to say, “war is so hard and terrible, even WE can’t take it sometimes, AND WE MAKE IT HAPPEN!”

Lastly, the fact that the CIA relies on Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini, the only bit of casting that makes you say “huh”) to plan a “hit” on bin Laden demonstrates America’s devotion to images of power.

Save your time, save your money, save your mind, and just do some internet research about torture to get the real truth and the real drama and the real characters, everything Bigelow could’ve included if she’d really wanted to make an actual movie.