Saheli*: Musings and Observations
Wednesday, May 18, 2005
 
Han Solo Breaks Open The Echo Chamber

A perennial criticism of the blogosphere is that it's an echo chamber---you tend to read people you basically agree with. Snarkmarket's Matt Thompson was recently quizzed about this phenomena on MSNBC, regarding his and Robin Sloan's creation EPIC. I think this is a bit of a false analysis because I tended to read people I agree with when I was mostly consuming print media--there's so much of it, it was easy enough to skip past the Thomas Sowell or Ann Coulter column which I knew would just piss me off. I certainly feel like I get a good sampling of people who disagree with me, based on how frequently I end up commenting in an argumentative fashion. Most of those are in the comments sections however, and I'm realizing they're frequently rather subtle disagreements. My argumentative comments are rarely confrontational. The problem with methodically trying to find influential writers for me to strongly disagree with, however, is that since I have a tendency to try and harmonize and understand, anyone who provides material strong enough to incense me is equally likely to actually give me a near-aneurysm. Material tends to curve sharply upwards in the offensive range when it gets that far out there. And habitually looking at the stuff is a recipe for a bad day. But maybe it's good for you. Do I really want to live in my own little GoogleGrid?

I just took a look around MichelleMalkin.com, and her Immigration Blog (more like an anti-Immigration blog.) My stomach didn't feel upto reading her books right now. That led me to the infamous LittleGreenFootballs. (What the hell is up with that name?) Some more clicking found me this open letter to George Lucas:
You might be aware that all of us who saw the "Star Wars" trilogy throughout the communist world saw it as an entertaining, yet still nonetheless powerful commentary on the current world events. We simply couldn't escape the conclusion that the militaristic and freedom-crushing Empire with its legions of stormtroopers is a futuristic version of the Soviet Empire, which had conquered and enslaved hundreds of millions of people like myself. . . .[citing Lucas]"In terms of evil, one of the original concepts was how does a democracy turn itself into a dictatorship," Lucas told a news conference at Cannes, where his final episode had its world premiere[end of cite]. . . . Yes, we were very wrong indeed - to you, the Empire was the United States of America, and if that's the case, then the brave rebels could only be all those people around the world fighting the American Empire - the Castros, Che Guevaras, Ho Chi Minhs, Pol Pots, and by extension, the Brezhnevs and the Mao Tse Tungs of this world.. . .You might well think that Anakin Skywalker's painful transformation into Darth Vader is somehow a perfect analogy for the political journey of George W Bush, but I have a sneaking suspicion that movie fans in Baghdad will have already recognized Darth Vader as one of their own - with a moustache rather than a black helmet. He, too, had two children, although they didn't turn up quite as cute as Luke and Leia. They names were Uday and Qusay. . . I will still go and see "The Revenge of the Sith" when it opens in Australia in a few days' time, and I will not stop enjoying the other five films just because I read their message differently to what you intended. (Emphasese mine.)
Someone seems to be a little unfamiliar with the concept of Science Fiction here. Also forgetful of their Roman history. Now, I'm about as unexpert about Star Wars as it's possible for a geek to be. I have not even seen Episodes I & II yet. (I was basically waiting on a verdict for Episode III.) However, you don't need to have your own Slave Leia or Elvis Storm Trooper Costume to realize that it's possible to have a movie set in a galaxy far far away, about what could happen to democracy gone awry, as a way of criticizing the direction we're going in, without actually thinking that we are, in fact, the Evil Empire and the communists of the world are, in fact, the Rebels. Instead you could be saying--hey, watch out--if we don't watch our act, our system too could become an Evil Empire and then we would have to be rebels! Just, you know, a thought.

Note that this outraged person still insists on seeing Revenge of the Sith. Brand devotion triumphs over willfully obtuse partisianship. Echo-chamber? Pshah!
 


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Saheli Datta started this when she was a journalism student at Columbia in New York. Now she lives in the Bay Area. *Old people call me R. New people, call me Saheli. Thanks! My homepage. Specifically, my links. Email me: Saheli [AT] Gmail [dot] Com

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Blogs I Read (Or Try To)
113th Street
american footprints(Nadezhda & Praktike)
ANNA's Diary
Apartment Therapy
Armchair Generalist
Back To Iraq 3.0 (Chris Albritton)
Dave Barry
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ChennaiCentral
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Dark Days Ahead
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Atanu Dey on India's Development (Deeshaa)
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Finding My Voice
Forsv
Neil Gaiman
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Geomblog
Green Ink!
Heliolith
Alexandra Huddleston
Iddybud (Jude Nagurney Camwell)
Indeterminacy
India Uncut
InSpiteOfEverything
Intel Dump: Phillip Carter et al
The Intersection (Chris Mooney)
Jesus Politics
John and Belle Have a Blog
Mark A. R. Kleiman
KnowProse (Taran Rampersad)
1Locana
Maenad (Nori Heikkinen)
Scott McCloud
Mind Without Borders
Electrolite: Patrick & Teresa Nielsen Hayden
Corey Pein
Political Animal(Kevin Drum, formerly Calpundit)
Kevin G. Powell
QuakeHelp (South Asian Quake)
Radiation Persuasion (Nick)
Reneebop
Rhinocrisy
Scott Rosenberg(Salon.com)
Rox Populi
Felix(&Rhian)Salmon
samVaad
Nick Schager
Idea Spout: Daniel Sanchez
Sepia Mutiny
Amardeep Singh
Snarkmarket (Robin Sloan & Matt Thompson)
South-East Asian Earthquake and Tsunami Blog
SreeTips: New To Sree
Steprous (Bear)
Robert Stribley
Subjunctive.net:klog
Talking Points Memo: Joshua Micah Marshall
Tech Policy
TiffinBox
A Tiny Revolution
To The Teeth
TreeHugger
Unfogged
VatulBlog
Venk@
Manish Vij
Vinod's Blog
War and Piece
Nollind Whachell
Wonkette
WorldChanging
Matthew Yglesias:Old
Yglesias:Tpmcafe
Zoo Station:Reuben Abraham
Ethan Zuckerman
Zwichenzug



Some Categories

Blogs focusing on policy, politics, and national security:
Armchair Generalist
Back To Iraq 3.0 (Chris Albritton)
The Decembrist
Brad DeLong
Daniel Drezner
Eschaton(Atrios)
Green Ink!
Iddybud (Jude Nagurney Camwell)
Idea Spout: Daniel Sanchez
Informed Comment: Juan Cole
Intel Dump: Phillip Carter
The Intersection (Chris Mooney)
Irregular Analyses
Jesus Politics
Mark A. R. Kleiman
Liberals Against Terrorism(Nadezhda & Praktike)
Political Animal(Kevin Drum, formerly Calpundit)
Talking Points Memo: Joshua Micah Marshall
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Yglesias:Tpmcafe

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Daily Dose of Imagery
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Alexandra Huddleston
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TiffinBox

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Ranajit Dam
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Corey Pein
Nick Schager
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