Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The square review.

Part 1)  Courage, That is the word that kept running around in my head as I watched. I cannot really imagine the courage it must have taken to stand up against a regime that had used torture and violence to such extremes in the past. I decided to take my review in a slightly different direction. Instead of discussing the things that we all could see in the film, the stuff that others will discuss, I decided to talk about deeper meanings. I think this will provide another layer to our understanding, if we take a look beyond the obvious.  One of the things I noticed was at the beginning; when Hosni Mubarak was giving the speech directed at the protester just how calm he was, even when threatening them. To me that speaks to the total corruption of his character, someone who has had absolute power for so long and has abused is so really has no need to fear anyone or anything, and that shows in his confidence. In their fight, the protesters were united against injustice and tyranny. Freedom has such a powerful pull on mankind, throughout history much blood has been shed in the pursuit of freedom.

       I liked how they kept moral up with songs and chants. Music is very powerful and it was nice to see that they took advantage if it. It is much easier to get people to sing and chant when they are fired up, and the result is that people have to take notice. I think that is one of the best things about these protests, it made the world stop and take notice of what was happening. I don't think That could have happened quite like it did without social media and You Tube. The threats were very real, I think it is interesting that they were more afraid of leaving Tahrir square then staying. The secret police are a totalitarian regimes best friend. They black-bag and torture people and are one of the most effective ways that a dictator can rule with fear. I enjoyed the film, but not because of the film itself; what I enjoyed the most was seeing just how much power the average person has. We may not feel it all the time, but we all have the power to do things like that if we are set to a great enough purpose.

Part 2) This film and the whole situation reminds me a lot of the movie "V for Vendetta". Near the end there is a protest against the corrupt regime, the main character has one line that I think really fits the whole idea of protesting injustice when he says that " Ideas are bulletproof" I think that this is very much the spirit that the youth had while they were in Tahrir Square.The idea was justice and freedom, and in the end it was just too much for Mubarak to stand against.  One of the things I found in my research was that Tahrir square is also called " Martyrs Square". This is very much inline with what we saw in the film. People died there, they died fighting for a better life for their families and the promise of a better future. I also found it interesting that there were several cases of self- immolation during the protests. That is a recurrent thing in protests in eastern world, most often in Asia and it is a very powerful statement. It was also interesting to learn that the success of this revolution led to another one in Tunisia that overthrew another long time tyrant.

    The situation improved after Mubarak was ousted. There was a constitutional review later in 2011 and the first true elections in most of the protesters lifetime. Most of the protesters demands were met. However not all of them were, some were promised and are ongoing, others simply never came about. In 2013 The country went back into a period of uncertainty when Mohammed Morsi was ousted. It seems that Egypt will be stuck in this type of situation for the foreseeable future.  I think it is just too easy to abuse power with the current situation being what it is, unstable.

       One of the greatest assets that the protesters had was social media. They were able to organize and gain support in a way that wasn't possible a decade ago. Social media is being used in the current protests in China as well to much the same purpose. In this concrete example social media made it all possible. They were able to spread the message and share it with the world in an instant. With out it I doubt they would have been successful. Without social media I think it would have been difficult to show enough support to make it work, this would not have worked with just a few dozen people. Mubarak would have been able to crush a few dozen voices without trouble, but a few hundred thousand cannot be silenced.

I decided to research Joshua Wong and his contributions to the Hong Kong protests in 2014. I wanted to learn about him because he is the same age as we are and doing such amazing things. He founded a movement called Scholarism that basically is all about pressuring the government to affect change. They have been labeled an extremist group by the Chinese government. One of the things I learned about him is that he has been at this for quite a while. When he was 15 he fought against communist indoctrination classes in the public education system in China, that was when Scholarism was born. The main point to take away from his story is that youth has power, and even the most unlikely of people can make great changes if they are really passionate about it. His is truly a inspiring story.

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