Glen Greenwald: Edward Snowden's Actions Inspired by Video Games and Comic Books

October 25, 2013 - James Fudge

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.


Comments

Re: Glen Greenwald: Edward Snowden's Actions Inspired by ...

Considering it was reported was part of an Anime club before this, this is hardly surprising.  And it only confirms my suspicion on where is moral compass is set.

As intelligent as Snowden is, he's incredibly naive if this is really the way he thinks.  The world does not operate in terms of black and white, good and evil most of the time.  Even the most recent Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. pointed this out when they name-dropped Snowden among others, indicating that such people are indeed naive.

In fact, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is interesting in that it posits that certain information needs to be kept secret for the public good, and portraying the people in charge of keeping those secrets as the good guys, while hackers like Skye and others in the organization Rising Tide who, while they see themselves as well-intentioned, actually make the jobs of the S.H.I.E.L.D. characters more difficult.

When I look at someone like him, I can't help but think of that part from Billy Joel's "Angry Young Man":

I believe I've passed the age of consciousness and righteous rage
I found that just surviving was a noble fight
I once believed in causes too
I had my pointless point of view
And life went on no matter who was wrong or right.

Re: Glen Greenwald: Edward Snowden's Actions Inspired by ...

One can both acknowledge the complexity of the world and aspire to ideals at the same time.

Re: Glen Greenwald: Edward Snowden's Actions Inspired by ...

Half bet that in secret, the politicians will use this as a reason to try and censor things a bit more, especially on the game side since unlike movies they haven't been officially granted any protection.

Re: Glen Greenwald: Edward Snowden's Actions Inspired by ...

Haven't officially been granted any protection? What do you think Brown v EMA was?

Re: Glen Greenwald: Edward Snowden's Actions Inspired by ...

They won the case, but it hasn't put down the line hard enough of yet.

Alls we got from that was a foundation, now we need the walls.

Re: Glen Greenwald: Edward Snowden's Actions Inspired by ...

Well, even if Greenwald did not dive into specifics of which games/comics and characters, it will provide an interesting point of discussion for some later interview.

 
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