Hey everyone, it’s W! How was your New Year’s Celebration? Did it go with a bang? Lemme tell you how I spent my New Year’s Celebration: riddled with fear, panic, and paranoia! NOT a pretty sight but allow me to elaborate on why what was supposed to be a pretty chill day turning into one of the most terrifying days of my life.
It all began when I picked up on a friend’s movie recommendation. My buddy, Kyle, has been kinda bending my ear about this film that’s supposed to be pretty good. Inspired by true events, he says. Now, I dunno about you but I know that the “inspired by true events” films always add a LOT of drama to it to make it more erm exciting I guess. Normally though, there’s either a lot of embellishments or cultural appropriation going on (calling you out 21!) so I wasn’t particularly dying to see it. But hey, new year new me that sort of thing so why not give it a go?
So I tell him that okay, I’ll watch it and he hands me his copy of Snowden. So this film only came out around September 2016 but it must have slipped my notice because if I was aware of it then, I probably would have lined up in the theaters for it. No, really.
Snowden is about Edward Snowden, a computer pro that used to work for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and a former contractor for the US government who leaked classified information from the National Security Agency (NSA). The film follows his career from a kid who wanted to be in the army to someone who had to redirect his talents elsewhere because of physical injuries. The plot is pretty simple as it interjects the “current timeline” with the flashbacks of Snowden’s life and his progress in the intelligence field.
The reason why Snowden’s leaked information was so controversial was because it literally blew the hood off the covert mass surveillance the NSA and the US Government were perpetrating violating the inherent privacy of their citizens and basically anyone who pinged their interest.
What struck me the most was the information that apparently everything, and I mean literally everything, was being logged, recorded, and viewed by the NSA. A private and supposedly anonymous blog post? They know who you are. A private text? They’ve read it too. What terrified me the most was the fact that, if they wanted to, they could switch on your laptop’s webcam without you knowing about it. How’s that for terrifying?
Think your Facebook profile is safe? They literally only need to send a few sentences of their “justifications” as to why they need complete access to your profile and they’ve got it. Mind you, access isn’t limited to your wall information or your wall posts, or even your friend list–their access includes even your private messages. If you’ve ever geotagged your location or uploaded a selfie, they’ve got a clear file on you.
Ed Snowden knew all this while he worked for them, so you can say he has a big role to play in being complicit in the shady dealings and he suffered greatly for it. Going home and trying to live a normal life all the while wrestling with everything that he knew–things he couldn’t even talk to his girlfriend about without risking a felony.
So the film Snowden shook me off the “isn’t it nice how we’re all so connected” train and showed me the cold hard facts. The fact that we’re all connected made it so easy for an entity like the NSA to make use of national security as a justification to violate our privacy. Just how secure is our information? Why would they think it’s perfectly okay to read, log, and record our private correspondence and information?
Who are they protecting us from? These are the questions that wracked me after I watched Snowden. In a cinematic perspective, the cast was great–except maybe Shailene Woodley (but at least she’s kinda trying), the cinematography was excellent; it helped put the stress where it was needed and you really feel the weight that Snowden was carrying on his shoulders.
Currently, Ed Snowden is residing in Russia and it’s looking more likely that he’s never coming home. Think of him what you will but you can’t deny that he brought to light some facts that we really needed to know.
I highly recommend that you watch this movie, my friends.
W Rating: 8/10
Btw, there’s totally a sticker on my webcam right now. Thanks, Snowden!