Tag Archives: Wikileaks

Fame Day: All The Little Things

I’ve always had a rough time with Fame Day posts. I’m a generally dispassionate guy, and the things that I do like either aren’t around anymore (good rock, for example) or don’t have much to be said about them (beer is good, that is all).

Bitter cynic that I am, it’s a lot easier (and more fun) to rail on things I despise (which is a lot of things) than make a case for what I enjoy. That issue is only compounded by the simple fact that at the end of the day, it’s really just all the little things which get ya.

With that in mind, today’s Fame Day [in lieu of the usual Shame Day] will not be spent dedicated to a single person or group or trend, but rather to a number of things which deserve some recognition, even if it’s just a little.

Middle-Eastern Jesus:

Even with a better understanding of history and geography, portrayals of Jesus are still pretty much limited to the fair-skinned, flowing-haired images of the Middle Ages. Even if we are, at the very least, keeping away from the blonde hair and blue eyes, we still have a long way to go. That’s the reason it’s always so refreshing to see Jesus portrayed with a stocky build, dark skin, dark hair, and a beard one would sooner associate with an Al-Qaeda commander.

He is not gonna tan well…

For everyone portraying Jesus as something more like that below, and less like this above- thank you.

PFC Bradley Manning:

In retrospect, I could’ve simply dedicated this Fame Day to saluting Bradley Manning, the young American soldier who leaked a massive number of documents to Wikileaks. Inevitably however, such an attempt would have simply devolved from a round of applause for Manning into a vitriolic diatribe against the increasingly Orwellian US government. Heck, even here I’m gonna be tempted to do so. Better just keep it short and to the point.

Included in the footage Manning leaked was video of a strike by American forces on targets they mistook for combatants, but who were in reality journalists and civilians. This footage would have doubtlessly been suppressed, as would similar  information PFC Manning leaked, and kept from the public eye, perhaps forever. Rather than being given a medal, Manning has been arrested, imprisoned, intimidated, and presented with a host of charges, including “aiding the enemy,” which carries the death sentence. Again, I’m tempted to run off into a wild condemnation of this entire farce, so let’s throw PFC Manning a round of applause and our wishes for his speedy release.

Chill Parents:

In our paranoid world, we have a tendency to attempt to control and protect our loved ones- kids in particular- from any possible harm or danger, no matter how minor. You’ve probably seen it in some form or another. Loading the kids down with every imagine medication, drilling the idea of “stranger-danger” into their disproportionately large heads, heck, even tracking phones or school IDs  is viewed as just a logical move in this chaotic and evil world.

I guess that’s why it’s  always good to see parents who are okay with their kids getting a little dirty and scraped-up, or even view such things as a healthy part of development. I’m not talking about neglect, mind you, but rather an understanding that keeping kids penned up inside a house or wasting away in front of a TV is just as bad- if not worse- than having to liberally apply the iodine after Jack and Jill fall down some hill.

And there you have it folks- a grab bag of things worth nodding your heads at. Be sure to check in tomorrow for a new installment of “Evan and Gordon Talk,” and Free Bradley Manning!

Free Information Culture

The last of my installments (for now) in looking at these rising alternative cultures is “Free Information Culture,”  which shares the same problem with “science” culture in that there’s really no good name for it yet. I’ve referred to it before as “internet culture,” only the problem with that is that, like “science culture,” it isn’t so much the culture of the thing itself as the culture of the fanbase. In simpler terms, it’s the difference between Hollywood culture and movie-lover culture- it’s the end product that’s valued.
So what’s the internet’s “end product”?

Besides porn and stuff like this…

Free Information.

Whether it’s the news, or Wikipedia, or TED Talks, or Imgur, or anything else imaginable, it’s on the internet for free and public use. It’s something of a great equalizer. No matter where you’re from, what language you speak, what class you hail from- you can create or say anything and then get called gay in the comment section.

And while that last bit is sort of a joke, it does play a role in developing the “free information culture.” Granted, general anonymity can make us vicious and vile people, but it also (to some extent) strips us of our egos. When you make something online, you really don’t get much, if any, credit, but that’s alright since it isn’t the point. It’s just about creating, nothing more or less. Who drew the first rage face? Who started up Bad Luck Brian? Who edited and sourced that one Wikipedia page you used to stitch your last minute term-paper together? Who puts together those monthly fail compilation videos? I don’t know and will probably never know, but I do know that they’ll keep coming because of the simple joy of creating them. I and every other person with a half-decent internet connection.

And all of this simply isn’t understood by some people.

Recall the massive outcry against the SOPA and PIPA bills? What prompted the creation of  these acts was that some people- certain corporations in particular- couldn’t quite wrap their heads around the idea of free and unlimited access. Now maybe you agree with them, and maintain that posting copyrighted material of any kind is piracy and immoral, however, what needs to be understood is that this was viewed as an act on the very nature of the internet and everything it had come to represent.

Again excluding porn and stuff like this…

Now more and more companies are catching on to the idea that it’s wiser to try to work with the faceless and vengeful cat-worshippers of the internet than against them- just look at video game companies that are starting to work in tandem with modders. The game Minecraft in particular is a good example of this, as many of the new aspects of each update to the game coming from the fan-forums themselves. Nevertheless, there are still plenty of people out there (I’m looking at you, Music Industry) who continue to struggle (vainly) against the dissemination of what they view to be the “information wants to be free” crowd.

Again, it all boils down the core of the culture that the internet has produced, gravitating around the concepts of freedom and egalitarianism. Look at Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange.

If he did his work back in the early 90s, we can be pretty sure he’d be viewed overwhelmingly as a candidate for a James Bond villain. But today we (for the most part) view him as being a heroic (or at least positive) figure in a world that’s become increasingly secretive and unequal. Why this dramatic shift in perception? Again, it’s the internet and it’s affect on us. In a time of economic crisis we might not be able to go to the movies, or eat out, or drive for miles to see a friend, but we can watch something online, or browse recipes, or video-chat with the same buddies that you’d otherwise not be able to see. Any threat to your full and unrestricted access to the internet is, by proxy, a threat to some of the last pleasures you have left.

Hence the formation of a culture obsessed with the values of free speech, free access to information, and freedom from censorship. And with every development of the internet or our access to it serving as another leap in the evolution of the culture, it’s safe to say that the howl of anger that the governments of the world met when trying to create such bills as ACTA is only going to intensify.