Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Review: Citizenfour

7 Responses

  • Craig Ranapia,

    There’s also no hint in the film of the pressure Greenwald placed on The Guardian to go quickly, or of his unseemly spat with another journalist Snowden had contacted, the Washington Post’s Barton Gellman.

    And that annoys me. Because there are perfectly legitimate if complex issues that can, and should, be raised there. When you’re prone to bagging the Mainstream Media as bloody-handed court stenographers of the Surveillance State, surely you should be rushing to ask such questions not avoiding them?

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • DexterX,

    One wonders - at least I do - with the mass surveillance by governments of it's citizens – as exposed by Snowden - what is the future of democracy - how will it be shaped - it disturbs me - I am unsettled by the thought - then I go off to work.

    Looking at the vast numbers that do not vote - are they smarter than me having reached the conclusion earlier than I - that the appearance of democracy - an election every three to four years - just doesn't matter - the machinery and intentions of government chug on regardless of the worth of a person's vote.

    Being a free citizen in a democracy what is it's worth.

    Mass Surveillance of citizens is not the business of a democratic government.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1224 posts Report Reply

  • ThoughtSpur,

    Before you see this film it would also be useful to read Greenwald's book No Place To Hide. You will better understand some of his issues relating to the relationship between him and Laura Poitras, also his agenda with The Guardian and their man Ewan MacAskill. Understanding the backstory will balance out perceptions of the reportage. I also feel it is important to consider the competitive relationships of various media outlets like the Washington Post and The New York Times and some of their strange inter-relationships with government.

    The currency of the Snowden issue has been lost to some extent - there has been no cataclysmic end of civilisation as we understand it. The audience for 'news' has lost interest in the constant bait and switch of the news cycle (a trivial spat about Eleanor Catton trumps responsible reporting of the Sabin affair). The Fox Newslike reframing of Snowden as 'traitor' has been absorbed into the collective consciousness (It takes fewer calories than outrage - and isn't it interesting how the term 'traitor' begins to be bandied about?). Then there is the hubris of local reporters who, in the service of whatever agenda they had at the time, preferred to heap scorn on Greenwald's New Zealand visit).

    The film won't be widely viewed and I doubt its issues will be discussed much either. However well made it was, given its constraints, the movie suffers the same problem as Phone Booth or Das Boot in that confined spaces make most of us desperate for fresh air or climax - but Citizenfour has none of that. The drama lies in the implications of the content and not the content itself - it's a bit like being a fly on the wall behind Christopher Nolan's book case - we can only look back with surprise and frustration at what is revealed, but we know that our world has been dismantled in the interim.

    Auckland • Since Aug 2007 • 15 posts Report Reply

  • Euan Mason,

    It may seem that the public has forgotten the Snowdon affair, but many of us have been profoundly changed by it. We note the GCSB legalislation, and we remember who said, during the 1930s, that, "those who have done nothing wrong have nothing to to fear". We shall take every chance we get to roll back the surveillance state.

    Canterbury • Since Jul 2008 • 259 posts Report Reply

  • ThoughtSpur,

    Euan, I suppose some people were changed not only by Snowdon's revelations but also by the simple fact that he was a seemingly benign persona. He joined the march on Saddam, though breaking his legs in training probably saved having them blown off by an IED on active duty. He was and still claims to be that curiously twisted auto nomen - a patriot. Mums and dads across Across the continent probably struggle to see the monstrous hate flecked visage someone like Dick Cheney mouthing the word 'traitor' when what they see is a serious young man, photographed holding the star spangled banner to his cheek on the cover of Wired magazine as if it was Linus' comfort blanket. In the great Snowden propaganda battle it is really a question of who can hold out for the longest. It will be last man standing. God may be of no assistance if the superpacs buy Jeb Bush the big chair (though in the part of my psyche that is lit by the spluttering candles of hope and naivety I imagine Obama pardoning Snowdon as part of the ceremony of office that requires him to hand over the keys to the republic).
    As for the GCSB legislation…well, I know that changed some of us. I learned two things about politics in Aotearoa New Zealand as a consequence of that matter. The first is that once a party has secured the treasury bench they can rely on petty plutocrats like John Banks and weaklings whose power comes from a marginal electoral vote and the reliance of a senior party on their sliver of majority to pass a law with significance that echoes into the future but is successfully trivialised by soundbites like 'nothing to hide, nothing to fear.'
    The second is that New Zealanders (whatever that means) are highly motivated by apathy and clever pollsters will play to that weakness time and again.

    Auckland • Since Aug 2007 • 15 posts Report Reply

  • Grant McDougall, in reply to DexterX,

    Looking at the vast numbers that do not vote - are they smarter than me having reached the conclusion earlier than I - that the appearance of democracy - an election every three to four years - just doesn't matter - the machinery and intentions of government chug on regardless of the worth of a person's vote.

    As The Veneer Of Democracy Starts To Fade...

    Dunedin • Since Dec 2006 • 760 posts Report Reply

  • Andre,

    Our thanks must go to Edward Snowden for protecting our human rights through his actions. A true hero. http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/feb/06/gchq-mass-internet-surveillance-unlawful-court-nsa

    New Zealand • Since May 2009 • 365 posts Report Reply

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