Tag Archives: Violence

Control Room, a different view of American military and the media which champions it

Control Room is an intensely powerful documentary featuring a different side of the Iraq War—a side not written to promote American propaganda, the media or the military, and how those entities, media, military, and journalism create and maintain wars around the globe. Control Room gives real-life, graphic accounts of the beginning of the Iraq War, as seen by the people of Iraq, from the United States’ introduction of nuclear weapons found to be held by Saddam Hussein, to the infamous Bush speech touting “mission accomplished”. This documentary shows the Iraqi confrontation in a different light, in a human light. One thing I think the American public needs to see is an event from a different angel, from the eyes of living individuals. These individuals are not just targets, they have lives and loved ones. This film offers a different take on occurrences which may appear objective and clear, concerning the United States military actions and their media counterparts.

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Facebook to Charge Money for Photo Removal

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A friend of mine told me of his issues with removing photos from Facebook. Apparently there is a pilot program/agency being implemented to the social media site. The program/agency consists of an entity charging money to remove your unwanted photos from Facebook. Perhaps I am introducing The Facebook Photo Removal Services. Here is his story.

Events:

I didn’t like the pictures I found on Facebook. It was sort of embarrassing, and it could affect me and the position I hold at work. I needed to take them down. I am a dishwasher at a restaurant in an old area of town, I usually get no respect. My manager tells me I don’t know how to use proper English, and that I am not allowed to speak Spanish in the kitchen. Most of my coworkers are foreign. This is a tragedy because most of those in the kitchen are unlicensed employees. I think of these images of me online, people click them, like them, comment on them, share them, and I am judged. I am not fluent in Spanish. So we say nothing.

The other day while scrolling, I found a picture of me holding some knives on Facebook. I was in a kitchen, I was red-eyed drunk, and I was looking rude. I tried to take them down, a new notice came up. I was unfamiliar with this notice. It said Facebook owns the rights to all of my pictures, -all content rather, from whenever I started my life on Facebook, and the only way to get my photos back, or down, or offline, would be to buy them from Facebook the corporation directly. This is true. I guess Facebook had changed since I first created my account.

You see, if I had more money (a better job), I could afford to buy these pictures, my pictures. I could save my life. I could get a better job. I would have a brighter future. These photos are ruining me. I had no control over what the photos looked like and how they portrayed me. I mean, my selfies, they were art. They really showed the who I was, and am. This tragedy is catching up to me. My Facebook friends have become my adversaries. These photos are powerful. I find it hard to handle because I could not present myself how I wanted other people to see me. In real life (IRL), I may be complex and flawed, but here was my chance to be simple and easy, desired. I am a drunk. I am a loser. I am single. And above all I am unsuccessful. I don’t want those photos out there, online, for millions to peruse. They may see the real me.

I think about this now. The price tag on these pictures, which I voluntarily post on social media are going to cost me more than two paychecks. I don’t have enough money to take them down. I wish I had thought about what I was posting on Facebook. I really do. Now the debt collectors call, now my manager questions. The waitress brings my credit cards back with a look fake empathy: it was declined she says… I fake astonishment: Really?! I cannot take these photos down, photos of me failing, stuck in my head. I wish I had not done this… No one thinks, I don’t think. Why?!

Today I took out a Payday loan to afford this Facebook service. You know, the convenient and fair lenders who reside in the non-sketchy part of town? -Something like that. These are nice when you have no money and need to remove certain pictures from your Facebook page. I really wish I had thought about what I was posting on Facebook. I wish they would have told me that there would be a price to pay for these images one day. I now, not including my students loans ($80,000.00 +), am about $5,000.00 + in side-debt. Side-debt is debt you accrue through regular everyday activity, it was necessary. Stuff like antidepressants, beer, whisky, Facebook Photo Removal Services, and condoms. I needed this money, absolutely. I also needed these photos removed, it was a drunken night like last week.

I think of money as the most important thing to me, aside from my image. I hurt my hands washing dishes; they are cut and bleed and blister and turn red. My image is in jeopardy. People will see these photos and they will think things of me. The other day my manager called, she is a pink heavyset drunk with greasy hair, always tied back taut, she yells a lot. Once she saw me naked. I think she yells a lot because she gets yelled at a lot, and told she is nothing. She does nothing about this. I think she is in a violent relationship, they both smile a lot. Next time I work I am to come directly to her office to discuss some “new discoveries” that my boss had found recently. I was not expecting the call. It was rather late at night. I go in tomorrow morning around 10:00am.

The friendly and helpful people at Facebook Photo Removal Services took my money and now I wait. Of course I have to wait. These things take time. There is a process to Facebook photo removal, naturally. My check has to clear, they have to take money from my bank account, and then some of their staff will select the picture and remove it. They work one at a time. It is a process thing. I understand. Though, I can upload a whole photo album to Facebook in less than three minutes, this removal process has taken three weeks. The results were average.

Payday Loans have been calling more too. I am the not good kind of popular. I have deferred on my student loan payments, once again, and still the photos are not removed. Also, since this time more people have posted questionable photos of me online, on Facebook and other social media. I receive emails telling me of these updates. The money, the clicks, the notifications, and the conversation with my boss, they are all real things. I walked into her office and she told me my check would be a week later than expected, maybe, and that I did not get the promotion I had asked for, though I will have the opportunity to train someone new for the job I so wanted. I am given this opportunity. Thanks… If only this conversation was about the photos.

After the photo scare, the discussion with my manager, and thinking it over in her office, I had to ask her something. I asked her for a raise. She looked at me confused. She could lose it at any moment, I mean this quiet rage. She kept her cool and said my name. She told me it is not feasible. She also told me I knew where the door was. I walked out of her office. I said it was silly under my breath, she said what?! I walked out and put my sweat-stained uniform on; what was white had turned yellow. We only got one shirt.

What I would say to someone posting online is: this is your life. Everything you post is part of you, forever. It is your virtual footprint. You will pay for it as any action. I have applied for numerous jobs, they see my photos, new photos of the same event, and I am told this each time: Thank you for applying to this position. We have decided to go a different route. Please try again in the future. Best wishes. If only I could contact Google and get them to block-out my name. No images would show up. I have setup a plan with Facebook Photo Removal Services now, I pay monthly, where they take photos down (for a price), to protect my person. My future is at stake here. The importance of this entity is beyond quantifying.

I realize now that I am plugged in. I love my job. I am concerned about photos, people taking pictures, and uploading them. The reason is is because of the cost. The monthly payments surpass my student loan payments, which I don’t make anymore. –Hey! Uncle Sam is trillions of dollars in debt, what’s my debt compared to that. Whole countries function in debt, though they don’t work shit jobs, wasting their time, killing their bodies, while paying corporations to not do things to them, perhaps. I think I should collect taxes too. This extortion is reality though. And what I realized while secretly speaking to my co-worker in broken Spanish the other day, while eating some prime rib ends, was that I shouldn’t complain. We all steal things. Facebook steals reality, and charges you to take it down. I steal meat and words with my peers. Emilio said he crossed the border to come here to work this job to pay for his family in Mexico. He loved it. I agreed. So, I picked up a new phrase, picture that, I couldn’t complain. I smiled as sweet fat sluiced down my face. This kitchen was warm. I told him: I think we can be Facebook friends now.

Things to Think on: “Untold History of United States”

Children of Men; Is it Worth it?

Children of Men is an intense tale of the inability of humans to reproduce. It is set in a dystopian future. Children of Men is a harrowing cinematic wonder, which enacts long takes with few cuts, and an immensely beautiful, yet terrifying setting, contrasting modern battle grounds, and industry, with deep green landscapes. It seems the most poignant shots offer the least amount of cuts, and vast range. This movie offers opposite pars and poignant meaning in social critique of violence and birth.

Children of Men highlights the human condition: we strive to reproduce and pass along our heritage. Being unable to do this, we become depressed and despondent. The human race is setup against a fascist government and a terrorizing guerilla activist group, F.I.S.H. With the setting we are drawn into a world of binary design; one aspect of the world is city-centric, very much modern dystopian, the other is one closer to nature, deep, rich, and holistic. This dichotomy offers a reprieve from what seems an endless barrage of violent attacks which plague the city centers. With this the audience is offered two ideologies: 1) a world based off of free love, attempts at birth, and peace (Shanti Shanti Shanti), and 2) a world based off of violence, oppression, and control. What is offered in drastic contrast is played out tenfold in this move; we see comparisons between life and death, humans and animals, and peace and war. Doubling extremes keeps this film at a fast pace.

In each shot there is much movement and sharp narrative change. Some of the most intense scenes go from a whimsical playful stance to a tragic situation, or vice-versa, in mere moments; the car chase, the baby exiting the building in the middle of an artillery battle. What we see is two very different concepts placed next to one another. We have the love of humanity, wanting to reproduce, create, expand, share, love, and then juxtaposed that, we have death, violence and deception. The question one must ask during Children of Men is not whether we have the ability to reproduce, but whether we should reproduce.

The director of Children of Men is extremely clever. He pits light-hearted empathy with the most atrocious violence. One moment the audience is laughing, the next moment they are gasping in shock. Children of Men is not your run of the mill movie, but something exceptional, and riveting, with a greater meaning. By comparing life and death, peace and war, the director shows two sides of human nature. The film draws you in with humanity, and begs the question: with all of this destruction of life, is creating new life worth it?

Boys Don’t Cry, and then People Die

Boys Don't Cry Poster

Boys Don’t Cry Poster

Boys Don’t Cry carries from start to finish with an emphasis on light, perspective, violence, and deception. One thing to note especially about Boys Don’t Cry is the beginning and ending are the same: the audience is given a car on a dark highway, traveling to anywhere, driven by a female character. The lights are out of focus and what is dark surrounds. This set-up and finish could be symbolism of the protagonist Teena “Brandon” Brandon. Hilary Swank, who pulls off a Justin Bieber/young Matt Damon in this film, is astonishingly believable as a soon-to-be F to M gendered person. She moves in the night, in the shadows, sans good light, and those around her can’t really pin-point her basis, or what she actually is. Her foundation is out of focus. Peirce captures this incredibly well, and that is what makes this movie so gripping, its honesty. The audience does not know what is coming next… That is honest. Life is not scripted, anything can happen. It could be physical violence, romantic sexual expression, or a drunken domestic outburst centered round the most sacred part of the house, a living room. The beauty of Boys Don’t Cry is the reality it mimics, the unknown- and not knowing.

Sexuality within the film focuses on “Brandon” trying to find love, find himself/herself, while moving around just trying to exist, survive. He deceives all those around him by not being straightforward about his situation; he is not a man. Brandon comes into a precarious situation by way of alcohol and drugs, and probably chance. The audience is taken in, first-hand, as Brandon is. He build relationships and is pitted against what would seem “normal” or “average” antagonists, against an ambivalent character. Brandon tries to be macho in respect to Lana’s ex-lover, felon, Brandon tries to win the heart of Lana. Role reversals within Boys Don’t Cry seem shocking; Brandon is raped (as a woman), Lana is intrigued that Brandon is actually female, and the drunken mother. I think the message within the film is that there is a duality to each situation. It is not so much about labels, blame, or deception (everyone is to blame within Boys Don’t Cry), but rather how it makes you feel, and for what purpose. That is the most important bit.

Lana and Brandon seemed in love, as opposed to Lana and her ex-lover, total drunk loser. There was a peace in the atmosphere when Lana was with Brandon that took her out of the “Hell” which was her living situation. And that all came to a violent end.

Kimberly Peirce’s directing utilizes fast cuts and manipulated lighting, not to mention the set, makeup, and overall appeal of the environment which is being imagined. It appears to me that most of the scenes take place at night or in the dark, or in sorted establishments. This filter affects one’s perception of reality, characters who appear in the dark, are not as they appear during the day. Fast cuts emphasize the fast pace of the movie, there exists this whirlwind love affair which is bound to become disastrous and volatile. Swank’s general presence gave me an uneasy feeling; I wonder, if one can be so convincingly conjured that no one is to know the difference, who around us is real? And what is “real”? Does it matter as much as the feeling that individual gives off? This not knowing of what is “real” creates the tension that eventually leads to the climactic ending.

The culmination of the film was shocking; people got shot, in the head. The interesting thing is the passing of the torch at the end. We have another character touched so much by Brandon’s ambition, concepts, and love that she embarks on what was to be his journey. The dangers of deception, manipulation, and drunken violence transcend intent (as good as it may have been), hence why Brandon was eventually killed. Boys Don’t Cry is a powerful film with a poignant and tragic message; people are still concerned with labels and other peoples’ sexual preferences, so much so that they will carry out violent acts in retaliation.

Deep Contrast; Scorpio Rising

What do we “know” about Adrian Peterson?

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ABC News: Minnesota Vikings Reverse Course, Suspend Adrian Peterson

In the early hours of the morning there was a surprise which took place in Viking’s Territory, or possibly New Jersey- wherever Zygi Wilf claimed as his at the time. Part of that surprise was Adrian Peterson, not surprisingly, being taken off of the Viking’s roster for Sunday’s game. The more surprising bit of information came from a mega organization making quick decisions, reversing said decision, on account of fiscal security, and what seems nothing more.

I wonder, is the child okay? Where is the child now? I hear AP is off the team, sponsors are dropping like flies, but little mention of anything else, except… there is more to come.

We sit here today, with our fantasy teams in disarray. My fantasy lifeblood has run out. This musical chairs game (with players) has me scrolling webpages for something more, for something better. Why do I do this? Because money makes me, even though I have little (well, all Minnesota taxpayer’s have stake in the new Viking’s stadium) invested in the actual game. This is a story about child abuse, due process, and motives of discussion, not a star player or his situation, mostly.

What has become apparent is we “know” what we believe we “know”, not what is objectively true. This is called interpretation. See: Post-Structuralism; and the Modern Episteme. We interpret from “reliable media sources” what we think we “know”. What we really “know” to be true about this matter is: child abuse is unacceptable and wrong, we are not judge or jury or executioner, American citizens are innocent until proven guilty, and we personally don’t “know” Adrian Peterson as a person at all. Sure, we cheer for him on Sundays to win for our “favorite” team (which every partially-sane politician in Minnesota seeking office has regurgitated in the last week, to ad nauseam), but we don’t “know” him know him.

We can all rest easy “knowing” that we won’t actually be embarrassed for what another person does, even if they are from Minnesota i.e. Michelle Bachmann. We can rest easy because we actually don’t “know” what happened, and WE won’t be guilty of said crimes- if it actually occurred in the first place; which it may or may not have: it’s 50/50 so far, in fairness.

Furthermore, I am moderately embarrassed about the latter person, who says the most hateful things of the president and his organization. I guess I am sort of not embarrassed; she doesn’t owe me anything, and if I hear something stupid coming from her I can change the channel, same as with the former, likewise the actions of both parties. I can ignore those. I am not an escapist, just a selective-perceptionist.

What we “know” is that we all have choices. We can choose to label Peterson whatever we want, and Michelle Bachmann whatever we want, and more. Adrian Peterson can choose to make poor decisions. The beauty of being a human being is we have the power to choose, like professional athletes and politicians, everyone makes mistakes (I am not an Adrian Peterson apologist either). We can make up our minds. Unlike other cases that are ongoing now, Ray Rice, we have no video proof (we do have photos; photo-shop pending), we have no agency over the matter, and we have no lot in what becomes of him or her. We have nothing to choose on. We can all agree that abuse is wrong. But we can’t really do anything else until we “know” more. Perhaps events transpire. Child abuse is wrong, but so is labeling a person as guilty when they may or may not be.
I mean, who actually decides that, passes down the conviction, and does the sentencing? Does this media attention skew the fairness of the trial?

I was watching the Crucible last night and realized that if a crazy person, or crazy organizations, or massively crazy corporations, or insane groups of people says anything about anyone, and agrees on it, it is dangerous. We all “know” what happened to Winona Ryder at the end of that movie. Damn…

What this actually boils down to is my fantasy football team. This whole ordeal with Adrian Peterson was the Providence of God (I use this in the John Winthrop-esque way). I had never played fantasy football before, while Adrian had been a spotless star, with a promising career. This all changed after I drafted him onto my fantasy team, everything changed. The first Sunday he would play for me, he would move up the field with tepid charisma, something had affected his ability. I watched myself sink into last place in standings, everyone laughed. I thought what could this be? And then, mid-week, it came to me via one of my ten-thousand checks of the ESPN fantasy page, it was all over my cellphone, and had become the hot button topic on Facebook: Adrian was indicted on these alleged abuses. I rest my case. Does anyone know what alleged means? It means: “(of an incident or a person) said, without proof, to have taken place or to have a specified illegal or undesirable quality.”

The aspect of football that proves scary in this case is the amount of money the owners and commissioners are willing to move and secure at any time, in any event; if shit goes bad for them personally. It’s not about the fans, but the money, the face value. They will forget their favorite players to save their financial situation; last week’s hero is today’s forgotten and exiled. Has anyone thought of the external cost of the NFL as a whole? Can we point fingers to how many concussed veteran athletes assaulted their loved ones due to trauma caused in career related injuries? I am not sure, I don’t know-

What I hear more about than anything in this case is lost sponsorships, not the kids, but the money. I think of Lance Armstrong finally admitting, well- not really, that he was doping… Gatorade dropped him, Livestrong dropped him. This is not unlike AP losing sponsors such as Nike (sort of), and the Viking’s losing Radisson Hotels, seriously. Pundits are asking- wondering, who will pay for naming rights to the new Viking’s stadium (besides the taxpayers that is), I am wondering are the kids all right? That is the highlight of this conversation: money. Who will pay the money? They want this person, labeled now a “child abuser” as far away from the Vikings franchise as possible. When we look back a month or so, or even a few days, where do we stand? How fickle are we to believe everything we hear?

What we do “know” is that we don’t “know” anything. These allegations could be frivolous and without warrant, they could be fact with proof positive. They could be fabricated by an ex-lover, put forth to ruin the goals and aspirations of certain people. The allegations could be true, AP could have abused his child(ren), and for that he deserves what is just; to be tried and sentenced. His children should have the right to a safe and secure living situation. However, if the charges are false, is it right that a person pay for a crime before he receives a sentence? If that be the case are his children worse off when their father loses his livelihood, and how firm will the NFL stand behind their star players after the fact?

There is no question abuse is wrong, child abuse, domestic abuse, etc.; abuse is wrong. Furthermore fabricating such abuse and speaking about it garrulously in the media is also wrong. Passing judgment on someone before they get their day in court is wrong. What if we are all wrong and it turns out this was just spin to get people talking about the NFL? This monster corporation, the NFL, wouldn’t be around today if it wasn’t good at talking about itself, getting itself talked about, or in general talking about getting excited about itself. This idea excites me. What the players do on and off the field neither affect our daily lives (unless we let them), or change the outcome of our day. The only reason we are talking about these “professional athletes” is because they do physically extraordinary feats, the keyword in this sentence being physical. If their goal is to be physically abusive on the field, who says they aren’t more prone to become more physically abusive off? And how does one turn that aggression off? The NFL pretty much promotes that we eat, sleep, and breathe football. What is there to do?

Hands down the most compelling part of this event is the idea that child abuse is wrong, however, and it seems to be trumped by money and sponsorships in comparison. The stories I have read, with little detail, and utilization of vagaries gets me to about this point: What makes society quick to judge, and how useful is that in the end?