Tuesday, 15 November 2016

So I Watched... Silenced: Our War on Free Speech.

This piece is about my thoughts on it and will avoid spoilers as much as possible as this was an advanced backer copy I received digitally.

Mike Cernovich seems to me to one of those who a lot of folks out there like to hate, he comes across as a master of testing the waters of Twitter to see what he can find and even bring to the surface to poke at. I follow him on the site because I do like some of the stuff he comes out with, I have listened to the audio book of Gorilla Mindset and enjoyed it very much so when I saw he was involved in a Kickstarter project with director Loren Feldman, I took a look. Free speech is to me a very big topic these days, you see people banned from Twitter all of the time for tweeting something either stupid or very unwise but yet others are allowed to tweet things such as encouraging the murder of police officers and doxing people and get away with it, I have also noticed that these days it is quite wise to keep certain opinions to yourself, even with friends because it could often lead to an argument. The documentary talks about this, calling it "self-censorship" and it was a disturbing section.

The documentary has a fine selection of guests, including Gavin McInnes, Milo Yiannopoulos, Vox Day, Charles C Johnson, Scott Adams, Pax Dickinson, and many others. Their views and stories tell a cautionary tale and as I watched them talk I was more on edge than entertained, it is a scary future that we could be in for should this trend continue. One thing the documentary got right, in my opinion, was that it explored the threat free speech faces on American college campuses and speaks to the likes of Ariana Rowlands and her experiences with it. I have listened to Milo's campus lectures and they are a spectacle, I do wish I could have been at one and I was pleased that Silenced did mention in a small way about him being banned from some campuses.

My main criticism of the documentary was that Twitter was barely mentioned in the film, even though it was shown in the trailer for it. Both Milo and Johnson have been banned from the site over tweets that they have written, Milo's was the most well known of the two but this is only mentioned by that of a subtitle under their names when they are introduced. I would have liked to have seen Twitter (and even Facebook) talked about in greater detail because a lot of the bannings that have happened in the past, such as Robert Stacy McCain, have been very suspect and often have a ripple effect on the site.

Silenced is a worthy documentary and is certainly worth a watch, I sat thinking for a while after it finished and was happy that I had backed it. A long time ago I was quite cautious about backing Kickstarters but when projects like this are funded and come to a satisfactory completion, it gives me the reason to back more because the most unique work may come from crowdfunding as opposed to the mainstream. When the DVD/Blu-Ray comes out, I will buy it as hopefully they will do some behind the scenes material for it because there is so much they could expand on, I will even keep my fingers crossed for a director's cut.

Ironically, I learned after I had finished watching the film that Pax Dickinson had been banned from Twitter, apparently no reason has been given.
Think about that for a moment, Silenced suddenly became much more relevant.

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