In the latest issue of The Advocate, Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald talks about his work on unearthing the massive domestic surveillance programs run by the Nation Security Agency and how it has affected his and his husband David Miranda's life.
More importantly (for us at least), the article reveals what inspired former NSA contractor turned whistleblower Edward Snowden (now exiled in Moscow) to reveal information on the NSA's questionable activities.
During his interview with Greenwald when he was hiding out in Hong Kong, Snowden told the Guardian journalist that he was inspired to "do the right thing" by comic books and video games:
It wasn’t Hegelian theories on power structures or Ron Paul rhetoric about privacy; it wasn’t Nietzsche’s Genealogy of Morals (Greenwald’s greatest influence) or Jeffersonian notions of government. It was comic books and video games. “You have good guys who are forced to do difficult but good things,” Snowden said to Greenwald, a bit embarrassed.
Greenwald is unfamiliar with this culture, but was lucky enough to have a husband (David Miranda) who understood it and could explain it to him:
It’s not a simplistic ideology. David [Miranda] is one of the most complex, intellectually curious, and sophisticated people I’ve ever met, and he’s the one who convinced me that being influenced by the moral dynamics of a comic book or video game is no less noble than being shaped by a novel or a book,” Greenwald reasons. “You can watch The Matrix and take it as an action movie, or you can delve into all its greater existentialist meanings. All of the narratives in these comic books are about these single individuals devoted to justice who have the willingness to be brave, who can defeat even the most powerful edifices of evil.”
You can check out the full interview here or find the latest issue of The Advocate on newsstands. Unfortunately, Greenwald's admitted ignorance of the culture is probably the reason why he didn't ask Snowden to specify what games and comic books served as his inspiration.