Stranger Than Fiction, about light activism and movies.

In the past few months, I have engaged in a light social activism project. I am not saying light in the sense that the issue is light – it’s not, it’s about people dying – but in the sense that mostly I talk to other people to invite them to voice their opinion to support the cause or to let them know their silence makes them accomplices of pink and art-washing of a 70-year old, and getting stronger every day, genocide. I may have damaged some friendships, burned some professional bridges, endangered future work opportunities – and dear yes, I do need as many as I can get as my job in culture is not overly lucrative, I may have attracted the fury of some amateur hackers… but I have not put my body in harm’s way, I have not had to break the law, I have not invested much cash, and I have executed most of these social justice activities from comfy indoor spaces located where I live or visit. So overall my activism is extra lightweight.

Still, almost coming out of seven years of following the proxy war in Syria with some personal stake, and now looking into this other giant fuckup in the ME, courtesy of the same profit-chasing states, I feel like crap. I feel like as soon as you start scraping the surface of anything, even something as innocent as a music festival, you will find the only problem humankind ever faces is greed, prime symptom of the fear of lacking, the fear of death. I also feel bad because I am not doing more, because I am not sure I would want to do more if I had the chance, because my lifestyle has made me lazy and cold-hearted. And then when I think about doing more for real, it would mean associating with organized groups of people who will not share all my values and opinions, and will ultimately care more about the growth of the group than the cause or general morals; of course if the group stays small we won’t be able to do enough, but as things grow, they get corrupt… And so I stay at home and I write articles, and I watch movies, maybe you feel the same way as I do and we can feel like sh*t together while enjoying some films.

To entertain our semi-apathetic state while dissecting the opaque layers that surround human relationships, society, ethics, and politics, I would like to suggest a few features. Let’s start with Green Inferno by Eli Roth, 2013. Some thought the movie was too violent, I personally think there are lots of missed chances of first quality gore moments, but again I am quite cold-hearted as mentioned earlier, it might be bloody enough for your taste. Another criticism of the movie is the racist stereotyping of the indigenous tribe. I am not sure I agree with this criticism, the tribe is stereotypical, yes, but the movie does not pretend to be an ethnology documentary, and that tribe is demonstrating ruthless power because no, they do not give any eff about white people, they only care about their own tribe, they do not feel like being “good savages” who get easily enslaved by conquistadors. What I like about this movie: the bad activists, the hero activists, the tribe, the guys who destroy the Amazon forest… they are all self-centered, and most of them are horrible and die gruesome deaths…talk about catharsis! This movie tells fake social justice warriors to stop using people in need as a feel-good hobby, and challenges us into thinking how we can truly help societies that may not share our western values, and it suggests the best way might be to stop invading their land and stealing their riches and to just let them be.

Next on the list is Watchmen by Zack Snyder, 2009. If you are more into comic books, the overall idea is the same: do we need superheroes, does having a superpower make you a better person, who will save us if superheroes can’t save themselves, is personal freedom worth the struggle… quite the philosophic superhero story if you ask me. In recent years, we have been showered by superhero movies and series. After vampires and zombies, it is yet another allegory of the current society: we are drowning, and who is going to save us, alien superheroes, mutant superheroes, average damaged dudes and dudesses turned superheroes against their will? Personally I’d say the real questions are can we be saved, and should we, Watchmen tries to answer that.

Not into sci-fi, want something more true-to-life, ever thought about what if conspiracies were real? Try The Conspiracy by Christopher MacBride, 2012. A small well-crafted clever movie that will entertain while asking questions, but never shoving any paranoia pill down your throat. The movie is fictional, but could as well be a real story wearing a bit of cinematographic makeup; it was definitely satisfying and a tiny bit unsettling.

After that movie, I was in the mood for more fake modern-life mystery documentaries, and I watched Tickled by David Farrier and Dylan Reeve, 2016. Except that Tickled is real. I started to realize this during the movie, paused it and went online to check, and now I cannot un-watch it. The documentary is excellent and ballsy investigation work, but it will make you wonder if the system protects citizens. In that documentary, not even cis white men are safe from the big bad wolf, and it is a perfect example of how money and the fear of looking through the glass of exploitation keep criminals above the law.

And talking about a looking glass, go down a twisted rabbit hole with the infamous fake documentary Propaganda by Slavko Martinov, 2012. It is sort of a staccato mind-fuck of how the West works and how the other side might see us.

Finally, because we all need some in-your-face entertainment and Hollywood glamour and FX once in a while, reward yourself after a hard day of work with Thor Ragnarok by Taika Waititi, 2018. It is funny, it has lots of famous actors, lots of action scenes, and it has a message: Refugees Welcome. Not what you’d expect from such a movie, but hey, why not, let’s grab positive messages from where we can.

Oh and yes, all these movies are by men, shame on me… Two years ago I wished for the end of the patriarchy, I guess it’s gonna take a little while longer.

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