About 2016, 2017, and 2018

By Nadia Says, these three pieces were originally published in Fourculture Magazine

Saying Goodbye to 2018 with Light Activism and Movies
In the past few months, I have engaged in a light social activism project. I am not saying light in the sense that the issue is light – it’s not, it’s about people dying – but in the sense that mostly I talk to other people to invite them to voice their opinion to support the cause or to let them know their silence makes them accomplices of pink and art-washing of a 70-year old, and getting stronger every day, genocide. I may have damaged some friendships, burned some professional bridges, endangered future work opportunities – and dear yes, I do need as many as I can get as my job in culture is not overly lucrative, I may have attracted the fury of some amateur hackers… but I have not put my body in harm’s way, I have not had to break the law, I have not invested much cash, and I have executed most of these social justice activities from comfy indoor spaces located where I live or visit. So overall my activism is extra lightweight.

Still, almost coming out of seven years of following the proxy war in Syria with some personal stake, and now looking into this other giant fuckup in the ME, courtesy of the same profit-chasing states, I feel that as soon as you start scraping the surface of anything, even something as innocent as a music festival, you will find the only problem humankind ever faces is greed, prime symptom of the fear of lacking, the fear of death. I also feel bad because I am not doing more, because I am not sure I would want to do more if I had the chance, because my lifestyle has made me lazy and cold-hearted. And then when I think about doing more for real, it would mean associating with organized groups of people who will not share all my values and opinions, and will ultimately care more about the growth of the group than the cause or general morals; of course if the group stays small we won’t be able to do enough, but as things grow, they get corrupt… And so I stay at home and I write articles, and I watch movies, maybe you feel the same way as I do and we can feel like crap together while enjoying some films.

To entertain our semi-apathetic state while dissecting the opaque layers that surround human relationships, society, ethics, and politics, I would like to suggest a few features. Let’s start with Green Inferno by Eli Roth, 2013. Some thought the movie was too violent, I personally think there are lots of missed chances of first quality gore moments, but again I am quite cold-hearted as mentioned earlier, it might be bloody enough for your taste. Another criticism of the movie is the racist stereotyping of the indigenous tribe. I am not sure I agree with this criticism, the tribe is stereotypical, yes, but the movie does not pretend to be an ethnology documentary, and that tribe is demonstrating ruthless power because no, they do not give any eff about white people, they only care about their own tribe, they do not feel like being “good savages” who get easily enslaved by conquistadors. What I like about this movie: the bad activists, the hero activists, the tribe, the guys who destroy the Amazon forest… they are all self-centered, and most of them are horrible and die gruesome deaths…talk about catharsis! This movie tells fake social justice warriors to stop using people in need as a feel-good hobby, and challenges us into thinking how we can truly help societies that may not share our western values, and it suggests the best way might be to stop invading their land and stealing their riches and to just let them be.

Next on the list is Watchmen by Zack Snyder, 2009. If you are more into comic books, the overall idea is the same: do we need superheroes, does having a superpower make you a better person, who will save us if superheroes can’t save themselves, is personal freedom worth the struggle… quite the philosophic superhero story if you ask me. In recent years, we have been showered by superhero movies and series. After vampires and zombies, it is yet another allegory of the current society: we are drowning, and who is going to save us, alien superheroes, mutant superheroes, average damaged dudes and dudesses turned superheroes against their will? Personally I’d say the real questions are can we be saved, and should we, Watchmen tries to answer that.

Not into sci-fi, want something more true-to-life, ever thought about what if conspiracies were real? Try The Conspiracy by Christopher MacBride, 2012. A small well-crafted clever movie that will entertain while asking questions, but never shoving any paranoia pill down your throat. The movie is fictional, but could as well be a real story wearing a bit of cinematographic makeup; it was definitely satisfying and a tiny bit unsettling.

After that movie, I was in the mood for more fake modern-life mystery documentaries, and I watched Tickled by David Farrier and Dylan Reeve, 2016. Except that Tickled is real. I started to realize this during the movie, paused it and went online to check, and now I cannot un-watch it. The documentary is excellent and ballsy investigation work, but it will make you wonder if the system protects citizens. In that documentary, not even cis white men are safe from the big bad wolf, and it is a perfect example of how money and the fear of looking through the glass of exploitation keep criminals above the law.

And talking about a looking glass, go down a twisted rabbit hole with the infamous fake documentary Propaganda by Slavko Martinov, 2012. It is sort of a staccato mind-fuck of how the West works and how the other side might see us.

Finally, because we all need some in-your-face entertainment and Hollywood glamour and FX once in a while, reward yourself after a hard day of work with Thor Ragnarok by Taika Waititi, 2018. It is funny, it has lots of famous actors, lots of action scenes, and it has a message: Refugees Welcome. Not what you’d expect from such a movie, but hey, why not, let’s grab positive messages from where we can.

Oh and yes, all these movies are by men, shame on me… Two years ago I wished for the end of the patriarchy, I guess it’s gonna take a little while longer.

About 2017
Some weeks ago, at an art people’s dinner, an older white man told me that our socio-political situation is bad these days, but certainly not nearly as bad as in the 40s. I am not sure people from Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Afghanistan, Palestine, etc. would agree. While we were having a lovely dinner, fellow human beings were being put to death en mass so we Westerners can keep our fantasy of a free world alive, and keep our consumption habits as high as our latest credit card allows. Post-colonialism is so deeply rooted in everything we breathe and touch that Black and Brown lives only matter when their hardships are staged by some fake NGOs and fitting to the mainstream media agenda; imperialism and greed are as strong as ever, even when they wear their Obama, Macron, Merkel or Trudeau’s masks, and we pitifully collect the (often pink-washed) crumbs they throw us.

2017 has been a political shit sandwich with extra MSM vomit on top, not sure I can choose what was the hardest to stomach: the actual horrendous acts by our elected representatives or the BS the MSM brainwash us with. Well, they do go hand in hand, after all, competing for the prestigious title of most murderous and cynical psychopaths (in no special order): our governments, the MSM, big pharma, the prison-military-industrial complex, agro-corporations, and the banks. Across the political spectrum, and despite fake feuds on Twitter and personal rivalries, make no mistake, they are all out there to get us, exploit us till we die, burn us in some Grenfell Towers, revive us, and milk the rot out of our walking corpses. What baffles me, is how we look down on each other, thinking that we can beat the system by getting a promotion, voting for some power-hungry pussy-grabbers, saying the right thing on the right social media channel, putting ourselves above people of a different skin colour, sexual orientation, gender, physical ability, or nationality. LOL.

Not singing Kumbaya at all, but for reals, besides the 1%, we are all on this sinking ship together. Your great grandchildren will not breathe less toxic air or drink less polluted water than your neighbours’ on the other side of a giant wall. While we are busy fighting over rigged politics, corporations are adding the final touches to a dystopian environment where soon, only the rich will have clean air, water, and food. We’ll see if your white hood, Tiki torch, and heterosexual penis make you special then.

Despite the general turmoil, something good has managed to come out of Trump and May’s attempt at a slow-burn genocide of the human race. People start to wake up, something that Hilary’s milder ways of abusing the system wouldn’t have stimulated. And as people wake up, corporations double their cause marketing, social justice newbies start to lecture long-timers, social media platforms and search engines devise new ways to exploit our new-found thirst for alternative knowledge… it is not all easy, but overall I do hope ignorance and abusive habits towards communities will regress.

I mostly live in the woke bubble, surrounded by progressive-ish people; even when I un-friend someone on Facebook for posting sexist garbage, I know that at the end of the day we are, more or less, on the same side. Something else I took away from this year is that as much as possible while preserving our energy and sanity, we must try to educate, listen, and forgive because our passionate and intellectual views of an equal society tend to divide and that’s how the patriarchy gets us. Intersectionality will save the world. Just like Hitchcock’s Birds, when we come together, they won’t be able to stop us. The biggest divide I have observed, still as something blurry and slippery though, is that there seems to be a pink-washed Western side, standing against the other side of the Iron Curtain. For example, if you are pro-peace in Syria, you might end up discussing with anti-LGBTQ folks, while if you are chatting with feminism advocates, you might end up hearing Islamophobic opinions. And there’s, of course, this tired thing of people calling you anti-Semitic if you want justice for Palestine. The MSM weaponize these views and create the perfect propaganda tools to wind us up and make sure we fight among ourselves. This makes me extra angry because it is isolating, it prevents open dialogue and education, and it is just infuriating to be played by the system like dodos.

Forty years ago in 1977, in what I personally feel were the last years till the mid 80s when many people were trying to make a stand before finally giving in to hardcore consumerism and to the lure of profit war, and forgetting the promises of the sexual revolution, two iconic disco songs were penned: Stayin’ Alive  and Born to Be Alive. The straight white market had already appropriated disco, and these four gentlemen sang about the dynamic between being an individual and being part of society and enjoying one’s self while surviving life struggles. Can pop music be prophetic? Forty years later, are we reaping what we sowed by carelessly damaging the planet and keeping on stealing from our neighbours in the name of our own survival and enjoyment. Are we going to keep on staying alive, or are we going to live consciously and strive for real freedom while stopping to oppress each other? For now, I wish us soothing visions of hope and brave New Year resolutions.

All I want for Xmas is the End of the Patriarchy
Starting with the end of post-colonialist whitewashed consumerist eco-nightmarish Christ-mass itself. I have way too much to say about this transvestite of a celebration to fit in here, so let me just ask you: why is baby Jesus, born in the Middle East, white? How come Santa doesn’t bring presents to poor children? Why do people have to live covered in red paint to produce trivial decorations? Why don’t we take all the money and energy wasted on Xmas and put them towards ending local poverty in the Xmas spirit? This list goes on ad nauseam.

And by the way if you ever wonder why some men wait for women to drop to their knees when they take their d out, look into Xmas: we celebrate the birthday of a child born out of -spiritual- rape. Mary didn’t even get a date with the big bearded man before a little bird inseminated her in a dream (GHB date-rape much?) without asking for permission. Jesus allegedly invited his followers to love one another, revolt against consumerism and the establishment, share our toys, and protect sex workers, but I don’t see a lot of Jesus-y behavior in how we celebrate his mass.

Xmas is also the time to look back on the past year. Someone told me feminism is over because women will now naturally come to level with men… LOL. Feminism is not only about women, it’s about equality and acceptance for ALL genders; so no, we are nowhere near that yet, (white) straight cis-men are still king everywhere we look. A few women positively rocked the global political world (absolutely not talking about Angela, Hilary or Theresa), but these two women in particular swept me off my cynical feet with giant waves of badassness.

The first is Paulette who lost her house to unjustifiably high cancer treatment fees. She set to walk for weeks across her native USA, shirtless, exposing her breast-less chest, to ask congress to find a cure. The finding a cure thing might sound naïve, it is not: the reason we do not officially know how to cure cancer better is because labs are making way too much cash milking patients. What stroke me the most is how this woman, a person society might consider less because of her gender, race, accent, single-motherhood and talks of gawd, took it upon herself to transcend all these superficial things to show us what human courage and determination can achieve. The second one is Kachindamoto, an official in Malawi who has already broken up 850 child marriages and sent girls back to school with her own money, while ignoring death threats.

I wish you all a quick end of 2016, moving on to 2017 and better things for us people and for the planet we live on. We can do it <3