Revenge of the Anonymous

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the group known as “Anonymous” (which is used in this case as a mass noun); they are an internet meme that originated in 2003 on the image-board known as  4chan, representing the concept of many online and offline community users simultaneously existing as an anarchic, digitized global mind. It’s  also generally used as a blanket term for members of certain Internet subcultures, a way to refer to the actions of people in an environment where their actual identities are known to only them. If that doesn’t help, think of Anonymous as a real life Laughing Man(from the anime Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex.) (Two images seen below. First image in hat and heavy coat.) The main difference being that The Laughing Man is a single individual, whereas Anonymous is more of a…..Legion for lack of a better work.

 

 

In its early form, the concept has been adopted by a decentralized online community acting anonymously  in a coordinated manner, usually toward a loosely self-agreed goal, and primarily focused on entertainment. Beginning with 2008, the Anonymous collective has become increasingly associated with collaborative, international hacktivism, undertaking protests and other actions, often in retaliation against anti-digital piracy campaigns by motion picture and recording industry trade associations. Actions credited to “Anonymous” are undertaken by unidentified individuals who apply the Anonymous label to themselves as attribution.

Although not necessarily tied to a single online entity, many websites are strongly associated with Anonymous. This includes notable image-boards such as 4chan, their associated wikis, Encyclopædia Dramatica, and a number of forums. After a series of controversial, widely-publicized protests and distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks by Anonymous in 2008, incidents linked to its cadre members have increased. In consideration of its capabilities, Anonymous has been posited by CNN to be one of the three major successors to WikiLeaks.

Last year, Anonymous claimed responsibility for hacking a website belonging to the Bay Area Rapid Transit agency by releasing personal information of 2,000 passengers and of a former BART spokesman who claimed it was his idea for BART to shut down cell phone service in stations.

The goal was to hinder protests that started after BART police fatally shot a transient in San Francisco.

Once again, the hacker collective Anonymous may have struck. The group appears to have posted the addresses and other personal information of several Oakland, California, city officials to the internet. The information went up on a website attributed to the group. A note with the post expresses anger over how police have treated members of Occupy Oakland and city budget cuts that have been approved. The mayor, police chief and city council members were among those whose information was included in the posting.

Among those whose information was included on the groups website were Oakland Mayor Jean Quan, Police Chief Howard Jordan, City Administrator Deanna Santana and numerous  City Council members. The group said that it was “shocked and disgusted” over police action taken against members of Occupy Oakland and recent budget cuts finalized by the city. “Since the inception of Occupy Oakland, we have been actively monitoring your behavior, and exposing the identities and sensitive information of Officers of the Oakland Police Department; as they have continued to act in an unprofessional and violent manner,” the group said. “You tear gassed us. You shot us with your weapons. You arrested us. You beat us. You also did this to our friends, and to our families.”

Quan’s spokeswoman, Sue Piper, downplayed Tuesday’s incident. “The information was already public, so it’s really not a big deal to us,” Piper said. “We just really want to go forward with the city’s business. This is nothing new.”

 

Occupy Oakland protesters and police clashed again on Jan. 28 when protesters tried to take over a vacant convention center and then damaged property inside City Hall including burning an American flag. Police used tear gas to disperse the crowds and arrested more than 400 people. Also last month, the City Council finalized $28 million in budget cuts including about 80 layoffs. The Council on Tuesday is scheduled to vote on a resolution to prevent future shutdowns of the Port of Oakland by Occupy members.

I’m pretty sure that if people don’t get their act together, we can expect more from Anonymous.

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Night of the Living Allegory

Cinema is littered with allegory, from movies as far back as Metropolis(1927) & its allegory of a fear of mob rule, fear of being overcome by technology  to current day, such as with The Chronicles of Narnia and their allegory of Jesus Christ of Nazareth as the lion Aslan. Allegory is everywhere, whether it’s meant to be there or not. Ever since the first zombie dug its way from out of the earth, zombies have been a widely used and popular symbol of our science run amok. You can look at a zombie film and see it as an allegory/symbol for out of control technology, as they are often brought into being by a spill of some highly toxic experimental chemical, re-animated through the means of some bio-engineered/man-made bio-weapon, or even though less often than other cases they are brought into being due to mans meddling in forces far beyond their understanding.

With Night of the Living Dead you have the possibility of all of these allegories, yet one that stands above them all is that of racism. The role of the lead character of the film (Ben) is played by Duane Jones, a black male; though the role does not call for a black male specifically. Ben is noticeably the sole non-white character in the film. Some saw this casting as significant, but George A. Romero says “he simply gave the best audition.”

Looking at the film, you can see the interaction and the distinction between the black and the white characters in the film.  Racism is defined as “The belief or doctrine that all members of each race possess inherent differences or abilities specific to that race that determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one’s own race  is superior and has the right to rule others.”

As noted by one Steven Russell, within the film Night of the Living Dead “despite the fact that Ben is the only member of the house that survives the night and in spite of his success against white zombies, he is killed quickly and cleanly by the living white, the zombie lynch mob, as he emerges into daylight.

As I stated at the beginning of this blog, there are zombie films where the dead are often brought into being by a spill of some highly toxic experimental chemical, re-animated through the means of some bio-engineered/man-made bio-weapon, or even though less often than other cases they are brought into being due to mans meddling in forces far beyond their understanding. Most of these cases easily show in the titles 28 Days Later & 28 Weeks Later where you have a zombie outbreak unleashed by means of monkeys who’ve been tested on using a “rage virus” which infects unsuspecting and slightly militant “animal rights activists” early in the film. These two titles(28 Days Later & 28 Weeks Later) also highlight how quickly man can go from reasonable and rational to irrational and just plain immoral.

Though lacking subtlety, in Zombies of Mass Destruction we see less the folly of man in his becoming overwhelmed with aftermath of his own machinations and a more racist, sexist, homophobic underbelly not of the undead, but of the people in the town who are plagued by the undead. The virus in this movie is described as a “terrorist” virus and being in a small town, one of its inhabitants believe the sole Middle Eastern girl in town to have had a hand in the virus attack. Here you see the racism brought to light by the zombie outbreak. It is not that the outbreak caused the racism, but that because of the outbreak we are allowed to more clearly see racism’s presence. You have sexist mayor who flouts the campaign of his female opposition, but more-so you have homophobia brought to light by the homophobic yet quite closetly gay preacher. In the film, before the outbreak takes place you have a cute gay couple who are coming to visit with the mother of the not soo openly gay half of said couple. The mothers reaction shows a lesser degree of homophobia than the aforementioned preacher. Through “re-education” he believes he can change someone from gay to g-d fearing straight. The themes of racism and homophobia lay strewn about the story this movie tells.

Regardless of the film title or director; zombie films have come with some lesson or parable that we as human beings should probably take to heart. Till that happens, there will always be a zombie movie pointing out the bigotry, violence, hate, racism, and just plain worse that humanity has to offer…while occasionally…possibly offering us a laugh or scream or two to lighten the tone or not focus soo heavily on the meat of the films.