Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Beefy Tee-Vee

On a British Ex-pats message board the other day a contributor had asked fellow-expats in the USA, "Do you consider yourself to be living in a free'er country with more freedom?" The questioner mentioned that he/she had recently seen this video scene and it had prompted curiosity. No responses to the poster had emerged at the time. I now see there are two pages of responses - here's a link. I don't contribute there any longer, but if I did, my answer would have been simply: "No!"

I well remember seeing the scene mentioned above, from "The Newsroom" (written by Aaron Sorkin) some years ago, and heartily agreeing with the speaker, played by Jeff Daniels.

Watching that again brought forth from my memory bank another favourite, from "Boston Legal", U.S. TV series written by David E. Kelley.

Woody Allen said (in one of his films) "Life doesn't imitate art, it imitates bad television" . But, but... good television highlights events and attitudes in such a way as to demand more notice from an often politically apathetic audience.


mike said...

The definition and perception of "free'er country with more freedom" is qualitative at best. Here in the USA, we've lost many freedoms, essentially with the advent of terrorism and the Patriot Act, yet there are many citizens that would describe the loss of privacy and freedom as necessary to an increased sense of security, which is agreeable to them. The FBI, CIA, and NSA have all been implicated in egregious constitutional violations, which has filtered down to almost every city's police departments. The injustices continue in the name of Homeland Security.

Had I left the USA in the 1990s to become an expat in the UK (or Canada, Australia, N Zealand), I would have seen some of the same changes occurring to my new homeland post 9-11-2001. I've been amazed at the degree Canada has become tarnished in the name of security vs freedom, as I hadn't anticipated their devolution. The UK has been lock-step with the USA in that regard, too. The "five eye" countries have all agreed to diminish personal privacy-freedom under the guise of security, which has implications far beyond simple terrorism and applies to each citizen's freedom.

I believe the UK had its hands in the pot with the Irish Republican Army threats. UK democratic norms were stretched and altered at that time. Had I been an expat American at that time, I probably would have sensed a loss of freedoms living in the UK.

"In 2015, Home Secretary Theresa May introduced a Counter-Terrorism and Security Act, which was criticized by the civil liberties and human rights pressure group Liberty because 'Sadly this Bill ignores reforms that could improve the effectiveness of investigations and prosecutions and continues the discredited trend of unnecessary and unjust blank cheque powers that have the potential to undermine long term security'."

The video clip from "The Newsroom" is less about freedom and more about ranking America against other nations in various standard-of-living topics. Not quite the same.

Twilight said...

mike ~ My answer stands - I do not feel any more free in the USA, or in fact, as free as in the UK. Personal freedom extends further than the security and "being spied on" angle. For instance: I feel less free to travel on public transport because there isn't any where we live. I feel less free to spend much time outdoors in the summer because it's too hot for most of the time. These both relate to where I live but I'm answering the question for myself only.

I discounted the security side of it, realising that the spying and restrictions are now common to USA, UK - and other countries.

LB said...

My thoughts run along the same lines as mike's. Though my husband and I are grateful for the roof over our heads (in an apartment with leaks, floods, an army of ants living inside the walls along with the occasional critter~ and with a landlord who ignores his responsibilities and steals from/threatens tenants, all of us paying far more rent than is reasonable or affordable), we're not really free to move anywhere else because where else are we going to go?

We're free to report to our landlord but when we're evicted what good will it have done us?

There's no *safe* place with *affordable* rent and *affordable access* to things like public transportation, libraries and services, healthy, whole organic food and safe drinking water, emergency services and basic utilities like electricity and gas. No place to go where we could find ethical work (or any work) that pays us enough to afford even the basics. No place with access to affordable health, dental and vision care, not where we are now, not anywhere in the U.S.

Still, we're grateful there aren't bombs going off over our heads and that there are places to visit, nature still left to enjoy ~ unlike in countries on the receiving end of U.S. intervention.

We're free to *not* vote in support of this system and free to give a voice to our concerns if anyone cares to listen. For now, at least, we're 'free' to access movies, books and internet material offering differing viewpoints from those within the MSM ~ though we really can't afford the cost to maintain basic TV, computer and land-line/cell phone services, for now we do anyway.

We're free to pay for all of the things we can't really afford and to buy more disposable junk we don't really need but sometimes do, free to do without, free to destroy the environment, free to produce more toxic waste and to be complicit in the exploitation of workers, indigenous cultures and wildlife, free to play the game and free not to ~ so long as we're willing to pay the price. Not everyone has a choice, my husband and I do to some extent.

Freedom is an inner attitude and has less to do with *certain* externals here in the U.S ~ many other places (Canada, the UK) at least provide universal healthcare to their citizens.

Which doesn't mean I don't realize how lucky we are compared to poorer, more exploited folks here and in other parts of the world. I see it as a human problem, one in which many of us have forgotten what really matters and have instead placed our faith in the false gods of classism, racism, capitalism, militarism and *nationalism*. I live a small life and don't have any answers.

LB said...

Twilight ~ In case my long rambling wasn't clear, all things considered, I agree, there are *probably* places in which I'd feel at least a bit freer than I do here in the U.S.

Not having access to universal healthcare is a big thing, especially at my age.

LB said...

Adding how, as both you and mike have said, weather and public transportation matter too.

Aren't there places in Europe that are better in terms of public transportation (or biking/walking), milder climates *and* universal healthcare?

LB said...

Sorry Twilight, for some reason I mistook your response to mike (about not feeing freer to move about because of weather and public transportation) as being mike's comment.

Twilight said...

LB ~ Thank you for your contributions.

I didn't mention health service myself, because we're both on Medicare (+ supplemental insurance), which does, actually, still cost a lot more than we'd be paying in England, which would be virtually nothing. Seniors get free prescriptions and NHS based on their life's National Insurance contributions.

But that loss doesn't make me feel less free in any way.

There are plenty of places in Europe where we'd gain what I've lost here, but we remain here because it's where husband's family is - and there are lots of them. :-) I have none, other than cousins. In any case, Brexit, if and when it goes through, could make it more difficult for Brits to make their home in other European countries than has been the case for many years - even if we wished to move. We're both a tad old for that anyway. :-(

I don't feel truly "unfree" at all, though I couldn't honestly say I feel more free here. It's well worth those two minor losses, to be in a happy marriage.

Twilight said...

LB ~ I think what the poster on the Ex-pats forum was getting at was that the USA has always - in the past anyway - been touted as "Land of the Free" as though other countries were lagging behind in the freedom department - which is, of course, not true. Because many Americans haven't travelled outside of the USA a lot they have been a wee bit brainwashed to think that the USA is special in this way - The Four Freedoms, etc. I do think that the internet will have changed much of that mindset during the past decade.

LB said...

Thanks Twilight, I got the point they were making.:) Having lived in the U.S. all my life, I understand how conditioned many of us have become, also the pressure we sometimes feel to engage in misplaced, unquestioning nationalism.

mike (again) said...

The thread states "free'er country" not Duncan, OK, or San Fransisco, CA. The majority of thread-respondents referred to civil liberties, government interference, and legalities. Quality-of-life in various locations in the USA combined with personal choices toward residing in that location shouldn't be generalized to "free'er country". That's my opinion...LOL.

LB said...

mike ~ I guess that means I started a new 'thread'(???)

When it comes to practical necessities (safety/food/shelter/healthcare, etc.), the idea that as Americans, each of us is guaranteed the freedom and wherewithal to *materially* 'choose' a better way of life is a myth.

Personal freedom and the ability to make meaningful choices and to then act on them (or not), are often related to class and income ~ just as class and income directly affect quality-of-life issues.

Freedom doesn't mean much if it excludes those without social, economic or political power:

Twilight said...

mike (again) ~ Each person can answer only about their own experience, which is what I did. This was not a flippin' exam paper! Others answered how they felt in a forum discussion - I didn't - I answered on my own blog, as an opening , and was really hoping to talk about the effect TV drams and speeches might have on viewers - see my last para. - But you took the topic in a different direction. So be it. ;-/

mike (again) said...

Goodness! Out of concern for misinterpreting intent with overbearance, I'll refrain from commenting.

Twilight said...

mike (again) ~ Huh? I simply said you took the topic in a direction, I hadn't originally had in front of my mind when I wrote the post - wasn't complaining, just explaining. Did I misinterpret? Did you? I don't know, mike. :-(

LB said...

It seems to me, the question posed on the britishexpats forum about freedom/feeling free'er was directly related to the idea that the United States (compared to other countries) is somehow superior in that regard ~ with the US often touted as being the land of unlimited opportunity and freedom. Folks commenting were free to either agree, challenge, or expound upon the original question, which they did for a variety of reasons.

Twilight's post did the same thing, *using snippets from TV/movies* to challenge this idea, again for various reasons.

And *most* of our comments in response to this post and one another did the same, or tried to.

mike ~ Maybe it was unintentional, but your 7:57 comment came across as legalistic and dismissive, as if you'd understood my larger point but disagreed with it and were dismissing me and my experience as being invalid.

I know you've had your share of challenges too, so your comment surprised me. Figured you of all people would relate. It's not about being a victim (like I said, I'm grateful for all that we have). It is about seeing past the illusions and talking about how things really are and how they could be better. I know you're trying to make the best of your situation and that's a good thing. My husband and I are too, as I'm sure Twilight and her husband are.

We may not always agree but we're all in this together.:)

Twilight said...

LB & mike ~ I should take the blame also for not making myself 100% clear -in one of those situations where I knew what point I was making but nobody else did, because of the way I presented the post.

The first TV clip was the one used by the British Ex-pats poster. I briefly answered her question in the negative. Then my mind went off on another gambit reminding me of James Spader/Alan Shore's speech which I'd stored in memory (as I was then a big fan of JS - pre Blacklist's violence). Then I was reminded of Woody's Allen's remark as stated at the end of the post, and posed an opposite view with regard to TV dramas, I should've added another paragraph. Mea culpa and all that!

I think I was in a hurry at the time, this was a last-minute idea for a topic, having been hitting a blank all day.

The internet is well-known as a hot-bed of this type of muddle when amateur writers like yours truly get to work! When face to face chatting, these mix-ups are quickly rectified, on the net, not so much.

Diane said...

Mercy! The Jeff Daniels/Aaron Sorkin/Newsroom clip is one of my most favorite: gave me chills.

mike (again) said...

Sorry for my misunderstanding, but it's probably best I limit comments until my health returns. Not feeling well and I've lost 12 pounds in the last three weeks...brain fuzz has set-in.

Twilight said...

Diane ~ Me too. :-)

Twilight said...

mike (again) ~ I understand, and do hope your health will improve soon. Losing that amount of weight so quickly, when not intentional, is bound to effect everything, all the time. In spite of your reluctance to have further tests, it might be the best plan, mike.

After tomorrow I'm going to take a break from the blog for a while myself. I think the ridiculous amount of election fever is messing with my BP! You have my e-mail addy, do please let me know how you are, whenever you feel up to it, until blogging resumes.

LB said...

mike ~ Sorry to read you're not feeling better. Unintentionally lost around 15-20 pounds myself not too long ago, and am only now beginning to gain some of it back ~ it was unsettling. Take care, mike. Hope you figure out what's going on soon.