Censorship double standard


MPAA thinks the above poster is inappropriate for all audiences because hoods are scary.

Unlike these.

Taxi to the Dark Side is a documentary, these bottom three are horror films whose graphic images are apparently agreeable to the general public, including the necons. The good news is that the documentarians got some free publicity out of this.

Think Progress » MPAA Rejects ‘Taxi To The Dark Side’ Movie Poster Because It Depicts A Hooded Detainee:

Alex Gibney’s new critically-acclaimed documentary Taxi to the Dark Side follows the path of Afghan taxi driver Dilawar, who was innocent of any terrorist ties but still “tortured to death by interrogators in the U.S. prison at Bagram Air Base.” It also examines the Bush administration’s torture practices at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib.

The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) has rejected Taxi’s poster, displayed to the right, as being “not suitable for all audiences.” The poster for the film simply shows two soldiers walking away from the camera, holding a hooded detainee between them.

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A Renaissance computer?


If you haven’t read McLuhan’s The Guttenberg Galaxy, then you may get a lot out of this great video clip (click on the link below to view it) on the significance of the printing press and its relevance today as a way of explaining the explosive changes communications technology can have on a society.

A Renaissance Computer?:

The alphabet has been called the mother of all inventions. It dispensed its benefits and blessings unevenly – particularly when the entrance of the printing press industrialized its reach. This narrative around a collection of 15th century printed pages is a time stamp and reminder that information overload is nothing so new that a glance back 500 years may dimly reveal the dynamics of the digital road ahead.

Megacities: development, evolution?

The above clip (which I saw over at BoingBoing (via Africa Unchained)) is an intriguing portrait of Lagos, Nigeria. It demonstrates some of the trends of expanding megacities that characterize the so-called “global south.” My main objection to the segment is the recycled and uncritical use of the term “developing world.” African critics have long contended that this term is Eurecentric because it implies that they (non-Europeanized societies) are primitive versions of the central model of civilization. Are Nigerians supposed to develop into clones of us? Should Lagos become the “London of the future?” It’s an absurd proposition because London is a wealthy city predicated on the poverty that is distributed locally and across the globe. When Nigerians in the documentary hope that Lagos will become the next London or New York, they have internalized this Eurocentric view. But it’s not surprising given the role that global media corporations play in defining the ideals of the world. Who can fault them for not wanting the privileges afforded the global elites?

I think it’s better to think of places like Lagos and Mexico City as interconnected nodes. The reality may be that Lagos is really a microcosm of the world as a result of capitalist “evolution.” I qualify the term “evolution” because we often think that to evolve means to build better and more efficient solutions, but that is not always the case. For example, we may think of Western civilization as “evolved,” but it is in fact contrived. It is the result of many deliberate and planned decisions mixed with a bit of accident and synchronicity. Throughout history human agents have made conscious decisions about how to shape or respond to their environment. Some are more successful than others. The thing about “our” civilization, that is, the one that primarily inhabits the technological bubble, is that in the end we may not be so wise. That all depends on us, of course. This is why it is better not to think of Lagos as “their” reality. We are all interconnected.

I believe the documentarians intentions were good; they wanted to showcase a situation outside many of our normal reality, but that’s the problem of creating something as difference, i.e. they are different because they are not us. Frankly, I wish Current had actually asked local filmmakers to document their own city. Why do we need a white guide to interpret the place when a local one would be a lot more insightful and also supportive of the local economy? I doubt a local filmmaker would think of their environment as “fantastic” (in the fantasy sense) or bizarre. Black magic is not bizarre, and is probably mislabeled in this segment since the magic they speak of is designed to actually pacify bad people through nonviolent means. Maybe a Nigerian should come to London or San Francisco and make a report of the “black magic” that is seen every 10 minutes on television, something we call advertising.

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STOP the SHOPOCALYPSE! Let the war on xmas begin

As you probably heard, Bill O’Reilly is jumping the gun this year to wage his counter-offensive in the so-called War on Christmas. Couldn’t he at least wait until after Thanksgiving? Enter the anti-Bill, Rev. Billy, the Church of Stop Shopping Gospel Choir crusader. Just in time for war, a new documentary about the Rev and his Christmas crusade, What Would Jesus Buy?, is about to make the battle really interesting. Who will win? Can xmas survive a corporate exorcism? You be the judge.

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Reel bad Arabs

A preview for a cool little documentary based on a great book that dissects Hollywood stereptypes of Arabs, Reel Bad Arabs. The author, Dr. Jack Shaheen, is a really nice guy. I met him at the Taos Talking Pictures Film festival and saw the talk that this film is based on. It’s powerful stuff and badly needed. Please support him and what he has to say by sharing this video.

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Shocking doctrine

Heavy. Sad. Shock. But this is not the whole picture. Don’t forget the love can encompass fear, but fear does not contain love.

The Shock Doctrine Short Film | Naomi Klein:

When I finished The Shock Doctrine, I sent it to Alfonso Cuarón because I adore his films and felt that the future he created for Children of Men was very close to the present I was seeing in disaster zones. I was hoping he would send me a quote for the book jacket and instead he pulled together this amazing team of artists — including Jonás Cuarón who directed and edited — to make The Shock Doctrine short film. It was one of those blessed projects where everything felt fated.” – Naomi Klein

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The Sicko Zeitgeist: a tale of two documentaries and the rat race of fear



Sicko finally came to Italy. There must be some strange pleasure in reviewing and inspecting the sickness that has emerged in the American social system. My Italian partner tells me that since WWII Italians have always looked up to the United States as the future, a kind of Utopia to works towards. This might explain Berlusconi’s misadventure in Iraq. With the Italians gone from Mesopotamia, Roman theaters now feature documentaries about Guantanamo Bay, the US healthcare system and the docudrama Death of a President get equal play with horror and action films. Is there still an American Utopia out there? The Simpsons Movie opens this weekend.
Sicko of course left me feeling disgusted. In Italy, as a legal resident I’m entitled to a doctor and free healthcare. The system here is not as perfect as those shown in Sicko, such as France, England, Canada and Cuba. During the pregnancy a few times we had to go to expensive private hospitals because the equipment we needed for tests had too long of a cue at the public hospital. But still, disregarding what we paid for tests, the cost of our daughter’s birth was 100 Euros. I asked people in the US what the typical cost of a hospital birth is, and I was told around $8,000.

Like many of the tales in Sicko, I have my own healthcare nightmare, and despite having insurance, I have spent at least $20,000 in the past seven years because of health issues that resulted from environmental toxins. One thing that people should pay attention to in Michael Moore’s documentary is that societies that invest more into healthcare and prevention have healthier people who live longer and therefore cost less to the system (duh!). Is American capitalism so attached to greed and selfishness that it is not even willing to invest in a prolonged and healthier life? It is a sad irony of the Protestant work ethic that the glory of material wealth is really meaningless when you are sick and dying.

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