The Handmaid’s Tale is a grim story. Watching the appropriately dark and terrifying Hulu series adaptation of it is not something I would normally think of as a “party”, but I did organize an event to watch the first 3 episodes the week that they premiered with several friends. The purpose of the party was twofold: to provide mutual emotional support and validation for each other while we absorbed the trauma onscreen, and to raise money for the Center for Reproductive Rights in the hopes that what we were seeing would remain forever fiction. I think it was a success on both counts.
We’re still only a few weeks into the Trump Presidency, but it’s already been a very turbulent ride, and its not too soon to be able to tell that even darker times lie ahead. Here are the moments from The Lord of the Rings that I am comforting/inspiring/steeling myself with these days.
“When did Saruman the Wise abandon reason for madness?” This is what I say to the Congressional representatives who won’t stand up to Trump, even when he tweets complete nonsense. Or to any leaders who advocate for his malicious agenda. Their logic is exactly the same as Saruman’s–he is too powerful to resist! We must align with him to preserve our own positions of power! But as Gandalf later states, this is a fruitless effort. “There is only one Lord of the Rings, and he does not share power.” I’m not saying Trump is Sauron. But I think it is safe to say he is equally self-serving and that attempting to ride his coattails is indeed abandoning reason for madness. (P.S., I have another clip for the people in the White House communications office who keep making ridiculous defenses for the indefensible things their boss says.) Continue reading
Nearly two years ago, President Obama gave a speech on the 50-year anniversary of the march on Selma, Alabama (dramatized in Ava Duvernay’s 2014 Oscar Best Picture-nominated “Selma”). I remember thinking at the time that it was a fantastic speech, beautiful and inspiring. I even saved a copy of it in my “speeches” playlist; (there’s no way to make that not sound nerdy, but I don’t care. I’m a student of rhetoric and it’s a great speech.)
Over the past two weeks under our new President, as many citizens mobilized to resist the extremism coming from the White House, this line from the Selma speech kept echoing in my head:
A couple weeks after the election, I ran a 10k. The course was a down-and-back route and the race event included a 5k, half -marathon, and marathon as well on the same route with staggered start times, so as you ran, there weren’t just people in front of and behind you but also crossing paths beside you headed the other direction. I was running with a friend, and we were apprehensive about maintaining a respectable pace because our training hadn’t been particularly rigorous, but something happened that made running non-stop both easier and more enjoyable than I had anticipated.
I love that it starts without the traditional scrolling text. This Star Wars story is more urgent, less epic–but not less significant!
I love that the first visual we get is disorienting, planet rings from below half-blocked by the planet’s shadow, and you’re not sure what you’re even looking at until it changes perspective and now we see, ah, there’s the planet, and now the rings and the shadow make sense. Because this film’s story is looking at a series we’re familiar with, but from a very different perspective than we’ve seen before. The other side of the rings!
I love K-2SO. A snarky droid after my own heart!
I love Captain Cassian Andor. He’s dreamy!!
**spoilery things i loved below**
Last Friday, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence released an unclassified version of the report on “Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections“. I recommend that you read it yourself, as I have just done. The pdf is 25 pages, but the body of the report itself is only 5 pages (not including the appendix), plus a 2-page introduction that should not be skipped that explains the context and how to understand the terminology and assessments presented in an intelligence briefing. It includes “analytic assessment drafted and coordinated among The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and The National Security Agency (NSA)”, though this declassified version does not include all of the supporting evidence from the three agencies that are in the classified version.
Things We Now Know:
I re-read Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire last month, and there were many things that stood out to me as very timely in the wake of the election. (Just to be clear, in case my readers are of differing opinions, I view the election of a man who consistently spews racist, sexist, hateful rhetoric, and who has shown a willingness to protect and preserve his own ego and assets but not our national security interests or constitutional integrity, as a very negative event that will harmfully impact much if not all of our citizenry, and which I am committed to mitigating and resisting in every way that I can.)
Oh, and also, this post contains spoilers for Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
In the wake of the election, there’s been a lot of talk about the role that “the media”* or “fake news”** may have played in swaying voters. This post is not going to talk about what responsibilities “the media” or individual journalists have, but the equally if not more important obligation that you and I have as consumers of news media: media literacy.
I’m pretty sick of hearing people blame “the media” for mass misinformation, or complain about “the biased media,” because the reality is: everything is ‘biased’! Every news article, every media source, every movie, novel, or piece of art, every social media post you will ever read, has a bias. Much less important than asking “is this media source biased?” is identifying WHAT the bias is in any particular piece you encounter. When you consume news media, no matter the source, you are not merely being fed a string of informative facts but also a chosen frame through which to interpret those facts. It is OUR responsibility to digest that frame as well as the facts; otherwise we are merely swallowing somebody else’s perspective whole.
I took a class this semester called “Science, Technology, and Society: Examining the Future through a Science-Fiction Lens.” For our final project we were to answer, in the form of an essay or creative work, the question “How do scientific discoveries, technological advances, and society pressures drive human change?” I wrote a song about language change on the internet.
It’s not great production value, the video is just an exported PowerPoint, and yes I know that ASL is not the same thing as English so I shouldn’t have included those visuals in the second chorus without making more of a distinction but I was trying to illustrate the “and/or sight” concept and also I was originally just writing about language in general but then switched the subtitle to be English-specific since all my other examples were and now it is too late to change it because I’ve already submitted the link.
Anyway. There are links in the video’s description.