Thursday, October 31, 2019

Dialogic Cinephilia - October 31, 2019

Bazelon, Emily. "How the Prosecutor Became the Most Powerful Person in the Justice System." On the Media (July 26, 2019) ["The trial. The judge. The jury. Certain images of the criminal justice system have imprinted themselves on our minds, aided and abetted by decades of procedural dramas from Perry Mason to Law and Order. As New York Times Magazine staff writer Emily Bazelon writes in her book, Charged: The New Movement To Transform American Prosecution and End Mass Incarceration, “The officer in uniform and the judge in robes are our indelible images of criminal justice. No one needs to explain the power they wield." And yet, she goes on, they fail to accurately reflect the justice system as it currently functions: "It is [the prosecutor] who today embodies the might and majesty of the state.” How did the prosecutor come to wield such outsized power over the fates of the millions who come into contact with the criminal justice system? Brooke speaks with Bazelon about how mandatory minimum sentences, the rise of the plea deal, and a lack of prosecutorial oversight have shaped this powerful role — and the movement to turn the DA's office into a weapon in the fight against mass incarceration."]

Bitar, Lara. "Lebanon’s Prime Minister Hariri Resigns, But Protests and Demands For a New Government Continue." Democracy Now (October 30, 2019) ["Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced the resignation of his government on Tuesday following nearly two weeks of nationwide anti-government protests. In a televised address, al-Hariri said he had hit a “dead end” in resolving the crisis. Demonstrators “were congratulating each other while at the same time acknowledging that the struggle is very long,” says Lebanese journalist, Lara Bitar, who joins us from Beirut for an update. She says protesters have promised to stay in the streets until all of their demands are met, including the resignation of all top government officials, early parliamentary elections and the creation of a transitional cabinet of people unaffiliated with traditional political parties."]

Boudin, Chesa. "Son of 1960s Radicals, Runs for San Francisco DA on Criminal Justice Reform Platform." Dialogic Cinephilia (October 30, 2019) ["Chesa Boudin is running for San Francisco district attorney as the latest candidate in a wave of decarceral prosecutors running for office across the United States. Bernie Sanders and other leading progressives have endorsed Boudin, who is a public defender and the child of Weather Underground activists Kathy Boudin and David Gilbert. His parents were imprisoned when Boudin was a toddler. These experiences have given him a first-hand view of “how broken our criminal justice system is,” he says. “My earliest memories are going through steel gates and metal detectors just to see my parents, just to give them a hug.” Boudin is running on a platform of ending cash bail and dismantling the War on Drugs, seeking to end “tough on crime” tactics and restore civil rights. Bay Area voters will cast their ballots Nov. 5."]

Chemerinsky, Erwin and Nancy Northrup. "Get Ready for the Most Significant Supreme Court Term in a Decade: The justices are tackling abortion, guns, DACA, and LGBTQ rights." Amicus (October 5, 2019)

Denis, Claire and Robert Pattinson. "Talk High Life at NYFF 56." The Close-Up #224 (April 25, 2019) ["Claire Denis’s High Life was one of the most buzzed-about movies at last year’s New York Film Festival. Starring Robert Pattinson and Juliette Binoche, the film is set aboard a spacecraft piloted by death row prisoners on a decades-long suicide mission to enter and harness the power of a black hole."]

Fuentes, Agustin. "The Evolution of Belief." Against the Grain (October 23, 2019) ["Belief conjures up political fanaticism and blind religiosity. But evolutionary anthropologist Agustín Fuentes argues that belief is also connected to our capacities to imagine, create, and change the world for the better. He reflects on why the ability to commit passionately and wholeheartedly to an idea is a central part of what makes us human."]

Galbraith, Peter. "The Betrayal of the Kurds." The New York Review of Books (November 21, 2019)  ["Following (Murray) Bookchin’s philosophy, northeast Syria’s many communities are represented in multilayered governmental structures. Legislative bodies—city councils or cantonal parliaments—include Kurds, Arabs, Christians, and Yazidis and are equally divided between male and female legislators. Each canton has a male and female co–prime minister, each municipality a female and male co-mayor, and male and female co-leaders of each political party. No more than 60 percent of civil servants can be from the same gender. The Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (NES) sits atop these governmental structures. It has a Kurdish woman and an Arab man as its co-presidents."]

Karlan, Pamela and Laurence Tribe. "Impeachment Primer." Amicus (October 12, 2019) ["First, Laurence Tribe answers the questions Amicus listeners have been asking about the next steps in the impeachment process. Next, Pamela Karlan takes us inside the chamber for Tuesday’s oral arguments in a trio of Title VII cases at the high court."]

Serpell, Namwali. "Does Fiction Promote Empathy?" Against the Grain (October 22, 2019) ["Do fictional narratives, like those found in novels, plays, and films, promote empathy? Does emotion-based empathy spur people to alleviate suffering in the real world? Namwali Serpell calls into question much of the conventional thinking about empathy in relation to art. Drawing on thinkers like Arendt and Brecht, Serpell points to fiction’s capacity to enlarge our understanding to encompass the positions of others."]

How Lebanon’s Uprising Pushed PM to Resign in Just 13 Days from Rising Up With Sonali on Vimeo.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Dialogic Cinephilia - October 30, 2019

Costa, Robert and Philip Rucker. "‘It feels like a horror movie’: Republicans feel anxious and adrift defending Trump." The New York Times (October 28, 2019)

Irizarry, Vivian Vázquez and Gretchen Hildebran. "Who Burned the Bronx? PBS Film Decade of Fire Investigates 1970s Fires That Displaced Thousands." Democracy Now (October 30, 2019) ["The new documentary “Decade of Fire” looks back at the history of a crisis that unfolded in New York City in the 1970s, when the South Bronx faced a near-constant barrage of fires that displaced almost a quarter million people and devastated an entire community. Co-directors and producers Vivian Vázquez Irizarry and Gretchen Hildebran tell the story of the government mismanagement, landlord corruption and redlining that lit the Bronx ablaze. They also describe how the community fought back to save their neighborhoods. The film airs next week on PBS."]

Kelley, Ariel and Leah Stokes. "Fueled by Climate Change, California’s Raging Wildfires Are Threatening Vulnerable Communities First." Democracy Now (October 29, 2019) ["California is bracing for a day of strong winds as climate change-fueled wildfires continue to burn from Los Angeles to north of the Bay Area. After a chaotic weekend of mass evacuations and blackouts that left millions in the dark, firefighters in Sonoma, California, made headway Monday, containing 15% of the massive Kincade fire that has burned nearly 75,000 acres. But as high winds pick up again today, firefighters still face an uphill battle in combating the at least 10 blazes raging across the state, including the growing Getty fire, which erupted in one of Los Angeles’s most opulent communities Monday. Fires in California are typical this time of year, but the length and severity of the state’s fire season has grown due to climate change. We speak with Leah Stokes, an assistant professor of political science at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and researcher on climate and energy politics. We also speak with Ariel Kelley, the CEO of Corazón Healdsburg, a bilingual family resource center based in Northern Sonoma County."]

Krajeski, Jenna and Rapareen abd Elhameed Hasn. "The Rojava Revolution in Peril." On the Media (October 18, 2019) ["Rojava: it’s the three cantons at the top of Syria that comprise what’s more commonly referred to as “Kurdish Syria.” Each canton is governed independently but according to a shared social contract based on principles of local democracy, feminism and ecology. It’s a land that, until recently at least, had about two million people, mostly Kurdish but with ethnic and religious diversity. And its political experiment was mainly functioning — until the abrupt retreat of the United States from northern Syria. Now Rojava is being pummeled by the invading Turks — martyred to the impulses of an unmoored American president. And so it has been reported: a ruinous betrayal of an ally that has made unimaginable sacrifices in the Ameican wars against Sadaam Hussein and ISIS. But lost in that narrative is another story: the equally unimaginable sacrifice of an equitable model of governance in a region where other models have stifled freedom for centuries. First, Bob speaks with Jenna Krajeski, a journalist with the Fuller Project for International Reporting who has reported on the Kurds. Then, he speaks with Rapareen abd Elhameed Hasn, a 27-year-old activist and co-president of her local health authority in Rojava, about what it's been like on the ground."]

McDougall, Christopher. "Natural Born Heroes." Radio West (November 6, 2015) ["... our guest is journalist Christopher McDougall who wrote the book that kicked off the barefoot running movement. While he was writing, McDougall came across the story of a Greek foot messenger who accomplished remarkable athletic feats during World War II. It got him thinking about what makes a hero, and he learned it’s not chance and you don’t have to be superhuman. McDougall joins us to explore how normal people can develop their natural skills to be ready in a crisis."]

Noble, Safiya. "Writing human bias into the code that runs our lives (Algorithms)." Best of the Left #1266 (April 19, 2019) ["Today we take a look at the racism, sexism and classism that is permeating the algorithmic systems that are directing more and more of our online and offline lives."]

Taylor, Astra, et al. "What is Democracy?" Against the Grain (October 15, 2019) ["Democracy is one of the most contradictory terms in political discourse today. On the one hand, it evokes rule by the people. On of the other, it’s used relentlessly by elites to mask where power truly resides in our society. Is it still a word worth fighting for? That’s one of the questions posed by radical filmmaker Astra Taylor in her latest documentary “What is Democracy?”"]

Monday, October 28, 2019

Dexter Walters - Surviving the Slaughterhouse: Vonnegut’s Coping Mechanism

Dexter Walters
Professor M. Benton
ENG 102: Writing II
October 16, 2019

Surviving the Slaughterhouse: Vonnegut’s Coping Mechanism

My goal for this paper is to argue against the views of Lawrence Broer, author of Sanity Plea: Schizophrenia In the Novels of Kurt Vonnegut who believes that schizophrenia influenced many of the themes in Vonnegut’s novels (Broer). In my teenage years, I read many of Vonnegut’s novels. At the time I read Vonnegut’s novels, I was very alone, alienated by choices of my family. It’s my belief that Kurt Vonnegut, the author of Slaughterhouse Five and survivor of the bombing of Dresden was experiencing loneliness himself. Vonnegut was a man that survived the improbable and his writing reflects said fact. Vonnegut’s writing also reflect his beliefs. Slaughterhouse Five was Vonnegut’s first commercial success, and cast his novels into the spotlight to enjoy today. Vonnegut famously went on to state that the only person who benefitted from the bombing of Dresden was himself, and that his book made about $2 - $3 per person who died in Dresden. This loneliness and capitalization of death would also be enough to cause mental illness, specifically schizophrenia, which is exactly what Lawrence Broer, the author of Sanity Plea: Schizophrenia In the Novels of Kurt Vonnegut believes (Broer). In addition, many themes in Slaughterhouse Five would support the presence of mental illness. However, I believe that the events of Dresden affected Kurt Vonnegut, but didn’t cause any mental illness, or that if they did, the mental illness didn’t affect Vonnegut’s writing to the drastic degree that Broer believes it did (Broer). On the contrary, I believe that the events in Dresden gave Vonnegut’s writing its edge, direction, and intelligence it carries.

The first proposed indicator of mental illness in Vonnegut, is the fragmented timeline throughout Slaughterhouse Five. Throughout Slaughterhouse Five, Billy Pilgrim doesn’t experience time in a sequential manner, nor does the reader experience Slaughterhouse Five sequentially. Instead, Slaughterhouse Five seems to come to a middle, punctuated by the constant presence and dismissal of life and death with the book’s signature phrase, “So it goes.” Vonnegut seems to write about three timelines throughout Slaughterhouse Five. The first being Billy Pilgrim’s life before World War II, and the bombing of Dresden. The pre-war timeline seems to be the least detailed of them all, often only being introduced to provide comic relief or a sudden change of tone. It makes sense that The pre-war timeline isn’t very detailed. There’s not much for Pilgrim to share about his time before World War II, since Slaughterhouse Five’s main theme is anti-war. The second timeline detailed in Slaughterhouse Five is Pilgrim’s time in war. The war timeline is the most flushed out and detailed of the timelines, as Slaughterhouse Five is centered around anti-war themes, and the consequences of warfare. The last timeline is the post-war timeline, which is easily the most disjointed and confusing of all three timelines, due to its heavy focus on Tralfamadorians, the fictional alien race featured in Slaughterhouse Five. In addition, the post-war timeline isn’t the centerpiece of Slaughterhouse Five, the war timeline is. However, the post-war timeline is used intermittently in the war timeline to sometime provide comic relief. In addition, the normal everyday run-of-the-mill events of the post-war timeline are also used contrast the strong war themes throughout Slaughterhosue Five.

The second proposed indication of mental illness in Vonnegut would be the prominence of aliens in a story that is supposed to be somewhat historical fiction. Throughout the story, the involvement of aliens constantly interferes with the life of Billy Pilgrim, the story’s main protagonist. Due to time being free-flowing for Pilgrim, he often knows of or predicts events that have yet to happen. The first big major example of this in Slaughterhouse Five takes place right before Pilgrim is about to get captured by the Tralfamadorians, when Pilgrim restlessly wakes up from sleep, and awaits his capture from the aliens. In a weird turn of events, Pilgrim knows about his capture, but doesn’t nothing to avoid or escape it. At this point in the story, Pilgrim acts very much like the Tralfamadorians that he’s consistently contrasted to. It’d be easy to mark down the aliens in Slaughterhouse Five as nothing but schizophrenia fueled delusions, but I believe that they’re something more. As stated in the into, at one point or another, you’ve felt alone due to the experiences you’ve been though, which had changed the way Vonnegut viewed the world, causing everyone else to seem like aliens to Vonnegut. Which is what I believe the role of the Tralfamadorians is in Slaughterhouse Five. They’re a placeholder for other humans, humans whose existence is based off of blissful ignorance. In one line from Slaughterhouse Five itself, a Tralfamadorian says, “Ignore the awful times, and concentrate on the good ones” (Vonnegut 150). Billy Pilgrim could only respond with, “Um” (Vonnegut 150). This is further supported by how wildly the Tralfamadorian’s views are to those of Pilgrim. This again, can be related to the beliefs of Vonnegut versus the beliefs of what Vonnegut considers common people.

The third proposed indication of mental illness starts with the beginning of Slaughterhouse Five, specifically, as Billy Pilgrim is estranged behind German lines avoiding capture. Pilgrim was accompanied by two scouts and an anti-tank gunner. Throughout his trek behind enemy lines, Pilgrim constantly expresses his will to be left behind to his companions. Pilgrim also goes as far to put himself in harm’s way, once putting himself into the sights of an enemy sniper, attempting to let the sniper shoot him. Pilgrim is even quoted to say, “You guys go on without me (Vonnegut 43).” Later, when Pilgrim and his companions are captured by the Germans, they were loaded into boxcars stationed on railroads. During his journey, Pilgrim more emphatically expressed his will to die. To make matters worse, Pilgrim was unable to sleep for most of his time in the boxcar. Willingness to die and inability to sleep also seem like excellent signifiers of mental illness. On the contrary, I interpret Pilgrim’s whole situation as a reflection of Vonnegut’s journey back to a normal life.  Vonnegut witnessed atrocities in Dresden, dug up bodies, and was one of the few survivors of the Dresden bombing. Lack of sleep is to be expected, but it’s also safe to say that Vonnegut could’ve been experiencing some form of survivor’s guilt, caused by being one out of thousands to survive a bombing that destroyed a peaceful and artistic city. Here’s the closest I get to understanding Broer’s belief that Vonnegut is suffering from schizophrenia. It is believable that schizophrenia could be caused by survivor’s guilt and the constant presence of death. But, keeping consistent with my central message, I still believe that Vonnegut uses Slaughterhouse Five as a coping method to work through his experiences in Dresden. In addition, there’s the school of thought that putting your problems down on paper helps people to work through their problems. This is supported by the personal experience of working through past problems by putting my troubled thoughts on paper, which served as a medium to express frustrations that I felt I couldn’t confide in anyone else. Slaughterhouse Five server as Vonnegut’s medium of expressing his troubled thoughts. But instead of hiding those thoughts on a bookshelf in his room, Vonnegut shared his thoughts with the world.

The last proposed indication of mental illness in Slaughterhouse Five is Vonnegut’s morbid fascination with death, torture, and suffering throughout Slaughterhouse Five, punctuated with the consistent appearance and dismissal of death, often presented un-impactful and practically meaningless, with character deaths often being presented, detailed, and then dismissed without a second thought.  The best example of this takes place in story of Edgar Derby, a character who was introduced to take care of Billy Pilgrim after Pilgrim had a mental break. Edgar Derby was presented as an intelligent and caring character, selflessly volunteering his time to look after Pilgrim. However, the introduction of Derby is finished by stating,

“…Edgar Derby, the high school teacher who would be shot to death in Dresden. So it goes (Vonnegut 125).”

Derby’s death is developed further later in the book, when it’s stated that Derby was shot to death by a firing squad. From a reader’s standpoint Derby’s death is awful, but un-impactful.  We as the reader never made the connection with the character that was Edgar Derby, and any attempt to do so would be meaningless since Derby’s death was introduced just after the character was introduced. Vonnegut made sure that there was no connection to be had, just as he likely avoided making connections with people during his service. The imminence of death, torture, and suffering made it very costly to get attached to people. Care was a commodity in World War II, and Vonnegut wanted to waste none of it, for his own sanity. Vonnegut isn’t stating that he doesn’t care about people in warfare, but instead, he’s stating that he cares too much to get involved. Vonnegut is showing that everyone is a victim of war, whether it’s the citizens of Dresden, soldiers on the battlefield, or high school teacher looking after a mentally broken soldier. This idea is expanded upon when Billy Pilgrim details the death of Edgar Derby to his then wife, Valencia Merble. When Pilgrim is recalling the story, he’s reluctant to tell the story, reflecting how Vonnegut feels about the deaths of his friends throughout the war. Again, Vonnegut is contrasted to the typical person through Pilgrim and Merble. Pilgrim views the World War II as an awful tragedy that he barely survived, while Merble views World War II in an almost romanticized manner, eagerly pressing Pilgrim for more events and details (Vonnegut 155). This concept is further supported by the preceding sexual intercourse Pilgrim and Merble engaged in, furthering the concept that death, torture, and suffering is romanticized by the general public, in Vonnegut’s opinion.

I hope that I’ve shown enough evidence to show that Kurt Vonnegut’s writing doesn’t originate out of mental illness, but instead out of intelligence honed and sharpened by his life’s experiences. At the end of the day, Slaughterhouse Five is an anti-war book at its core, not a pleading for help. Vonnegut writes to make points, challenge views, share his beliefs, and to share his absurd sense of humor based on his life. If anything, Slaughterhouse Five is not a call for help, it’s a coping mechanism. Vonnegut’s novel is one of the most honest and truest experiences and retellings of a warfare experience. It’s even more fortunate that we as the readers are able to experience such an honest and true retelling of warfare. Lastly, the most fortunate thing is that Vonnegut rose to his stardom when he did, allowing readers around the world to experience warfare in a new light, one where the main character isn’t a killing machine that regrets what he’s done, but instead, an unwilling advocate to death. In Slaughterhouse Five, Vonnegut also expresses his fear of never being discovered through another one of his characters, Kilgore Trout. In Vonnegut’s novel, Kilgore Trout is said to have great novel ideas, but terrible prose and execution, which is exactly any writer would fear for their own works. One of the opening lines of Slaughterhouse Five states, “I would hate to tell you what this lousy little book cost me in money and anxiety and time” (Vonnegut 2), implying that Vonnegut worked through his experiences in Dresden through writing Slaughterhouse Five.

Works Cited

Broer, Lawrence R.. Sanity Plea : Schizophrenia In the Novels of Kurt Vonnegut, University of Alabama Press, 1994. ProQuest Ebook Central,

Klinkowitz, J. (2004). The Vonnegut effect. Columbia: University of South Carolina P

Tally, R. (2013). Kurt Vonnegut. Ipswich, Mass: Salem Press.

Vonnegut, Kurt. Slaughterhouse-Five. New York: Dial Press Trade Paperback, 1999. Print.

Carly Healander - Shakesqueers Genderfuck: A Look at Shakespeare Through the Queer Eye

(Trigger warning: use of the word queer(never used negatively), discussion of a slur)
Shakesqueers Genderfuck: A Look at Shakespeare Through the Queer Eye
English 102 M/W 2:00-3:15
Carly Healander
            “All the worlds a stage, and all the men and women are merely players” (2.7.146-73) (Moway, 1997). A classic Shakespeare line but a complex one. Often, the way we play on this stage is in the circles of gender, man or woman, male or female. Although we become dictated by these circles in theatre or life, Shakespeare engages in a different play by turning the concept of gender on its head; executing complex ideas with brilliant prose in such a way that he was writing transgender narratives before the vocabulary to describe this experience was fully defined. By viewing the text with a Queer lens, the meaning behind the words are enriched, deepened by the voices of the lgbtq+ community, and provides diverse casting options, retellings and analyses when performing a Shakespearean piece. In this essay we will be unlearning gender, unlearning Shakespeare and relearning our sense of play. But first, a few terms to take into account when Queering the text:
            The language of gender in the lgbtq+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning and others) continues to grow and develop just like our understanding of Shakespeare. Although this is the vocabulary we have now, the community may find more ways to identify or may not be using these terms and labels at all in the coming years as the humans that belong in it further their search on what it means to be human. Here are some terms that will be discussed: Gender Expression is how a person chooses to express our gender outwardly in ways of clothing, voice, haircut, physicality, behavior, etc. Gender Identity is a person’s personal sense of what gender is. How a person views gender, how it applies to that person personally, what aspects of gender is that person comfortable or uncomfortable with, etc. Gender Presentation is how the outside world views a person’s gender (Trevor, 2016). Inside these terms are multiple identity terms such as transgender. This is when the person does not identify with the gender they were assigned at birth. Transmasculine or a transman is a person who was born female but identifies as male. Transfeminine or a transwomen is a person who was born male but identifies as a woman. Nonbinary is a person who doesn’t identify with either gender. Genderqueer is a person who identifies with both. Cisgender is a person who identifies with the gender they were assigned as (Woodstock, 2018). These words are more complex than their definitions and the people who identify with them are more complex than the definitions, but these words can provide community and a guide for any person exploring their gender identity. Using a Queer eye, a reader of Shakespeare can see how these experiences are shown in the text.
In the theatre, specifically Shakespeare, there are terms connecting the text, the actor and gender. Cross-dressing, a term commonly used in the theatre, is when an actor/character crosses from one gender to another. This term relates mostly to gender performance, when an actor is performing as another gender. Trans-dressing, is more than an actor/character ‘crossing’ between genders, but embodying them. Feeling a deep connection with the gender they are presenting as (Power, 2018). This gives a more in depth look into the stories and a way to bring queerness to the light in the classical theatre.
Now that these terms have been established, take a look at Viola’s monologue from Twelfth Night through the queer lens. In this monologue Viola is presenting as Cesario(her male identity). She has just been given a ring from the countess Oliva, who has proclaimed her love for Cesario, not knowing Viola’s birth gender. Viola is also stuck with the fact that she is in love with Orsino, a duke, who is unaware of her and Cesario being one of the same. Orsino, is in love with the countess Olivia but later falls in love with Viola/Cesario, which is unknown to Viola at first.  Essentially, she is dealing with one big love triangle.
I left no ring with her. What means this lady?
Fortune forbid my outside have not charmed her.
She made good view of me; indeed, so much
That, as methought, her eyes had lost her tongue,
For she did speak in starts distractedly.
She loves me sure; the cunning of her passion
Invites me in this churlish messenger.
None of my lord's ring? Why, he sent her none.
I am the man. If it be so, as 'tis,
Poor lady, she were better love a dream.1
Disguise, I see thou art a wickedness
Wherein the pregnant enemy does much.
How easy is it for the proper false
In women's waxen hearts to set their forms!
Alas, our frailty is the cause, not we,
For such as we are made of, such we be.2
How will this fadge? My master loves her dearly;
And I (poor monster)3 fond as much on him;
And she (mistaken) seems to dote on me.
What will become of this? As I am man,
My state is desperate for my master's love.
As I am woman (now alas the day!),
What thriftless sighs shall poor Olivia breathe?4
O Time, thou must untangle this, not I;
It is too hard a knot for me t' untie.
1 Transman: This can be read starting off with a sense of confidence in a male identity. Viola is excited by Olivia falling in love with him, excited his male identity is seen. Then is struck by a lack of confidence, Viola feels as though if he were to reveal this part of himself, the outside world would view him as a liar.
Transwomen: This can be read in the opposite way as a transmasculine person. Viola is frustrated that the outside world views her as a man and is placed in this identity but inside she knows she feels female, so it all feels like a trick.
2 Queer/Trans: In the end of this section, regardless of how the director decides Viola identifies, this line can be read as finding solace in the self. That even though Viola may be rejected by society, as long as she knows herself and lives honestly she is okay with that. For such as we are made, if such we be. There is nothing wrong with who you are, it is just how you are made.
3 Nonbinary/Genderqueer: It is important to regard the use of ‘monster’ in this monologue, used as a slur, but also interesting to view in regards of its definition. ‘Monster’, was a term during Shakespeare's time used for a person identifying with both sides of the binary gender, a man/women (Folger, 1993) which we now know to be a very natural experience and use the words nonbinary or genderqueer to describe it. Aside the cruel phrasing, it is proof that nonbinary people have been explored in history. This line could also be read as Viola does not feel she can love Orsino as a man or a nonbinary person because of the numerous social pressures.
4 Nonbinary/Genderqueer: As I am man, as I am women. In both cases Viola still has this major crush on Orsino. Oliva, in a sense, can represent the outside world criticizing Viola on their emotions and forcing Viola to be one or the other.
In each of these examples from the text, Viola's character uses a lot of aspects of trans-dressing. From the queer eye perspective, she not only expresses gender but feels a connection with each presentation. Throughout the play this is explored further in dialogue between characters, relationships and the overall plot, especially toward the end. Orsino, the guy Viola has a major crush on, proposes to her right after she reveals her assigned gender. There are no questions only a statement that shows Orsino still sees Viola’s, as a person between and beyond gender and recognizes her personhood and loves her all the same (Elise, 2019).
“And since you called me “master” for so long,
Here is my hand. You shall from this time be
Your master’s mistress” (5.1.339-340)…
“—Cesario, come,
 For so you shall be while you are a man.
But when in other habits you are seen,
Orsino’s mistress, and his fancy’s queen” (5.1.408-411).
Throughout all the many ways to Queer Twelfth Night, one message is clear: good love speaks not with the body but with the heart. A message many need to hear.
It can be seen that this Shakespearean tale would be beneficial for a young queer audience with the Queer eye in mind. Not only to show them that they can love who they wish, but are free to explore their gender outside of what the binary tells them to be stuck in. The show displays the complexity of being human and human questioning their gender but remaining the same at heart. Casting transgender actors in Shakespeare told from a queer eye, would not only improve work for transgender/queer actors and show authentic experiences, but diversify the Shakespearean world for audiences and actors to come.
Fionn Shea, a transmasculine actor, writer and musician from New Hampshire, found solace in another trans-dressing character from As You Like It, Rosalind. He explained in an interview with the New Hampshire Public Radio, that he came to terms with his gender identity in the middle of performing one of Rosalind's lines in As You Like It.  Fionn said,
[In regards to the line]
"Were it not better [...] That I did suit me all points like a man?" 
And all of a sudden, I sort of understood what she was talking about and had this
realization and complete certainty of just how much that felt like it applied.
            This realization lead Fionn to establish a deeper understanding of Rosalind and himself for the rest of the production and into life. (Biello, 2019).
            Another Shakespearean play Fionn said he identified with and saw as a story that could be told through the Queer eye, was Richard III. Which another playwright saw as a way to explore the transgender journey as well.
Terri Power, an actor, artist, scholar and educator, constructed a play in which she combined Richard III with the transgender experience and ally of a transgender person’s experience. Drag King Richard III, switches between the narration of ‘Lady Femme’ the ally, and the Shakespearean text of Richard the III, regarding her friend Lawrence’s experience with being transgender. The play draws clear connections to Lawrence’s life to the text, Queering it in the most authentic way possible. The play itself is full of heart and heartbreak and at its core, the struggles of being human. (Power, 2016).
These stories brings up the question of how many trans people Shakespeare could help find their truest selves or feel visible in a world where trans visibility is so rare. And to cisgender audiences, to become more exposed to an experience they may be unfamiliar with. Using Shakespeare in a Queer eye normalizes the experience while being in a genre most people are fairly familiar with. Hopefully, theatre companies will begin to see the importance of this and begin to apply it to productions so maybe a young queer kid will see them self onstage in a place where they never thought they could. In the big picture, regardless of gender or how these characters are read, these genderfucking characters and people are human as a human can be. In the words of Dugald Bruce-Lockhart  “And whether that character is a grandfather, an uncle, a daughter, a son, it’s a character in a story and that's it.” (Power, 2018). Off or on stage, there’s some real truth in that.

Belsey, C. (2009) Twelfth night: A modern perspective New York: Simon & Schuster

Biello, P. (2019, March 29) The Bookshelf: Coming out as trans, with help from shakespeare. [Audio Podcast]. Retrieved from

Elise. (2019, May 12) Love me for who I am: An essay on william shakespeare’s twelfth night. [Blog Post]. Retrieved from

Moway, B., Shakespeare, W., Werstine, P. (1993) Twelfth night: Folger shakespeare library. New York: Simon & Schuster

Moway, B., Shakespeare, W., Werstine, P. (1997) As you like it: Folger shakespeare library. New York: Simon & Schuster

Power, T. (2016) Shakespeare and gender in practice. New York: Red Globe Press

The Trevor Project. Trans and gender identity. (2017, September 2) Retrieved from

Woodstock, M. (2018, January 8) Gender reveal: Gender 101 [Audio Podcast]. Retrieved from

Dialogic Cinephilia - October 28, 2019

Beals, Emma, Juan Cole and Rami Khouri. "The Death of al-Baghdadi: ISIS Grew Out of U.S. Invasion of Iraq. What Will Happen Next?" Democracy Now (October 28, 2019) ["President Trump announced Sunday that ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was killed in a U.S. special forces raid on his compound in northwestern Syria. According to Trump, al-Baghdadi detonated an explosive vest he was wearing, killing himself and three of his children. The raid began early Sunday when eight U.S. military helicopters flew from a base near Erbil, Iraq, to northwestern Syria over airspace controlled by Syria and Russia. Baghdadi had led ISIS since 2010. In 2014, he proclaimed the creation of an Islamic State or caliphate during a speech in Mosul. At its peak, ISIS controlled a large swath of land across Syria and Iraq and maintained a force of tens of thousands of fighters recruited from more than 100 countries. The group also claimed responsibility for deadly attacks across five continents. We speak with three guests: Juan Cole, author and professor of history at the University of Michigan; Emma Beals, award-winning investigative journalist and researcher who has covered the Syrian conflict since 2012; and Rami Khouri, senior public policy fellow and journalist-in-residence at the American University of Beirut, and a columnist at The New Arab."]

Ezie, Chinyere and Dean Spade. "Brick by Brick - 50 Years after Stonewall." Activist Files #15 (June 20, 2019) ["Staff Attorney Chinyere Ezie and Dean Spade, author, activist, and law professor at Seattle University School of Law, discuss the state of the queer and trans rights movement in the U.S. today, 50 years after the Stonewall uprising. Chinyere and Dean reflect on the formal progress that queer and trans communities have seen in the past half century, as well as the many more struggles that their marginalized members are still fighting today. They explain the phenomenon of pinkwashing and show how the mantle of “gay rights” has been co-opted by right-wing actors, while highlighting the need for an alternative vision of queer and trans liberation that resists a monolithic narrative of integration into conservative institutions, including marriage and the military, and relies on a message of “sameness,” while erasing ongoing struggles for immigrants' rights, police accountability, prison abolition, and other issues that impact and are led by queer and trans people. Chinyere and Dean also address the ongoing epidemic of violence against trans women of color and articulate their hopes for the future of this work, including continuing to challenge laws that create what Chinyere calls a “discrimination-to-incarceration pipeline,” providing mutual aid, and thinking creatively about how queer communities will be impacted by – and have to collectively organize around – future threats, such as climate change. For more on Dean Spade’s work, check out the Queer Trans War Ban Toolkit."]

"Fight Club (1999)." Hammer & Camera (September 19, 2019)

Gerard, Lydia, Sharon Lavigne and Pam Spees. "Combating Corporate Contamination in Cancer Alley." The Activist Files #14 (May 9, 2019) ["Senior Staff Attorney Pam Spees talks with Lydia Gerard and Sharon Lavigne, two of the brave Women of Cancer Alley leading the resistance to the toxic petrochemical industry in Louisiana. Cancer Alley is an 85-mile stretch of land with a high concentration of petrochemical companies. It also is populated by primarily Black communities with high rates of health problems, including respiratory problems, the highest risk of cancer in the country, and even unexplained health problems. Both women share their personal stories--the difficulties Sharon's grandchildren have had breathing, Lydia's loss of her husband to kidney cancer--and the way those experiences fueled their fight in the face of indifferent corporations and lackluster government action. Later this month, many of those involved in this struggle will participate in a March for Justice, demanding government action--including the reduction of emissions, a moratorium on new plants, and the closer of certain existing plants. Give the episode a listen, and spread the word about this important fight for racial and environmental justice."]

Oliver, John, et al. "Confronting the Legacy of the Confederacy." Best of the Left #1186 (May 29, 2018) ["Today we take a look at the legacy of the Confederacy, the monuments and white supremacy it left behind and the racial terror institutionalized in America based on upholding its values."]

Podcasts/Videocasts Dialogic Cinephilia (Ongoing Archive)

Staal, Jonas. Propaganda Art: From the 20th to the 21st Century. (Dissertation: University of Amsterdam, 2018)

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Dialogic Cinephilia - October 25, 2019

“We live in capitalism. Its power seems inescapable. So did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings. Resistance and change often begin in art, and very often in our art, the art of words.” -- Ursula LeGuin, National Book Award Speech, 2014 (source).

Benton, Michael. "Recommended Films of 2018." Letterboxd (Ongoing Archive)

Boué, Katie. "Give and Take." Women on the Road #54 (May 24, 2019) ["When you’re on the go, it can feel freeing to not have roots. You’re here, then you’re there. But the reality is that all of us who travel, for any length of time, create an impact on the communities we travel to and through, which can be tough to remember that because it feels like sleeping in a public parking lot for 7 hours doesn’t leave a lot of room to give back to the people who live down the street. Or does it? Katie Boué, part-time road traveler and full-time public lands advocate, has a lot to say about the give and take we engage in as travelers: both in the outdoors as well as in local communities. Because the reality is that no matter how often we relocate, we leave an impact wherever we go, and that acknowledgment in itself holds power."]

"Chile Learns the Price of Economic Inequality." The New York Times (October 22, 2019)

"Classical Antiquity and the Fear of 'White Extinction.'" Pharos (March 29, 2019)

Cogan, James and Kevin Reed. "Chelsea Manning imprisoned without charge for six months for refusing to testify against Julian Assange." WSWS (September 21, 2019)

Manaharan, Karthick. "'We Are All Clowns' - A Defense of The Joker." The Philosophical Salon (October 14, 2019)

Podcasts Dialogic Cinephilia (Ongoing Archive)

Ruha Benjamin: Sociology/African-American Studies/Science & Technology/Knowledge & Power Dialogic Cinephilia (Ongoing Archive)

Staal, Jonas. "Propaganda (Art) Struggle." October #94 (October 2018) ["To oppose the various propagandas discussed above, we will need infrastructures and narratives that mobilize the imagination to construct a different world. To achieve this, we will need an emancipatory propaganda and an emancipatory propaganda art. There is no prior reality to which we should strive to return; there will only be the realities that we will author collectively ourselves."]

Monday, October 21, 2019

Ruha Benjamin: Sociology/African-American Studies/Science & Technology/Knowledge & Power (Ongoing Archive)

Ruha Benjamin's Website

Twitter profile

Sources by and about Ruha Benjamin:

Benjamin, Ruha. "A Lab of Their Own: Genomic sovereignty as postcolonial science policy." Policy & Society 28.4 (2009): 341-355.

---. "Cultura Obscura: Race, Power, and 'Culture Talk' in the Health Sciences." American Journal of Law and Medicine 43 (2017): 225-238.

---. "Discriminatory Design, Liberating Future."  Captivating Technology: Race, Carceral Technoscience, and Liberatory Imagination in Everyday Life. ed. Ruha Benjamin. Duke University Press, 2019: 1-22.

---. "Ferguson is the Future." Data Society (June 2018): 1-21.

---. "Informed Refusal: Toward a Justice-based Bioethics." Science, Technology, & Human Values (2016): 1-24.

---. "Innovating inequity: If race is a technology, postracialism is the genius bar." Ethnic and Racial Studies (July 15, 2016): 1-8.

---. "Interrogating Equity: A Disability Justice Approach to Genetic Engineering." Issues in Science and Technology (Spring 2016): 1-4.

---. People's Science: Bodies and Rights on the Stem Cell Frontier. Stanford University Press, 2013.

---. Race After Technology: Abolitionists Tools for the New Jim Code. Wiley, 2019.

---. "Race for Cures: Rethinking the Racial Logics of ‘Trust’ in Biomedicine." Sociology Compass 8.6 (2014): 755 - 769.

---. "Racial Fictions, Biological Facts: Expanding the Sociological Imagination through Speculative Methods." Catalyst: Feminism, Theory, Technoscience 2.2 (2016): 1-28.

---. "The Social Dimensions of Science, Technology and Medicine." Northwestern Digital Learning Project #12 (June 5, 2019)

Dialogic Cinephilia - October 21, 2019

Denis, Claire and Robert Pattison. "High Life." Film Comment Podcast (April 17, 2019) ["For our latest Film Comment Free Talk, Claire Denis and Robert Pattinson joined FC Editor-in-Chief Nicolas Rapold to discuss their singular new High Life. The film, in theaters now, features a cast including Pattinson and Juliette Binoche as a group of death row inmates set adrift in space as part of an intergalactic science experiment. In his feature on the film, Nick Pinkerton writes that, “while High Life is the biggest and most expensive movie that Denis has ever made, it gives little indication of its scale having been bartered for at the sacrifice of freedom—or with the stymieing of the go-with-the-gut intuition that has produced a sui generis body of work, created with enormous craft but a total disdain for the rules of the ‘well-made’ film, elliptical in approach and full of jarring tonal shifts.” In this conversation, the filmmaker and her lead actor discuss working together to bring High Life to the screen, Denis’s remarkable eye for physicality, encountering the taboo, considerations of genre, and much more."]

Gates, Stacy Davis and Science Meles. "30,000+ Chicago Teachers & Support Staff Go on Strike Calling on City to Invest More in Schools." Democracy Now (October 17, 2019)

James, Amaris. "Eat and Be Merry for Tomorrow It May Kill." Dialogic Cinephilia (October 21, 2019)

Krajeski, Jenna. "What the Kurds are Fighting For: The Idea of Rojava is at Stake." What Next (October 16, 2019) ["When the U.S. abandoned its Kurdish allies, it not only left the Kurds vulnerable to devastating attacks from Turkey, but it also abandoned Rojava, the Kurdish autonomous region that lies in the northeast of Syria. Right now, the Kurds are fighting to preserve what they can of this unique political arrangement, but it might already be too late. And, maybe, it was always destined to fall."]

Scott, Peter Dale. "The Processes and Logic of The Deep State (The American Deep State by Peter Dale Scott)." Unwelcome Guests #719 (August 8, 2015) ["Unusually, just a single speaker this week: one two hour interview with the doyen of deep political research, Canadian Professor Peter Dale Scott. He provides not only a lot of details of the evolution of the post WW2 deep state in the USA, but also sketches out its guiding principles, some of the deeper patterns which allow one to understand the superficially confusing and contradictory actions of the US deep state."]

Snowden (France/Germany/USA: Oliver Stone, 2016) Dialogic Cinephilia (Ongoing Archive)

Willoughby, Cierra. "Saga and the Unending War (also example of Paragraph Diagram)." Dialogic Cinephilia (October 16, 2019)

"At 96, she’s currently the oldest serving career park ranger with the National Park Service—just one chapter in a long life of public service and her active role in the social evolution of the United States. Reid Soskin’s remarkable resume ranges from clerking in an all-black trade union during World War II to political activism and songwriting during the Civil Rights Movement, from running a record store to working as a congressional field representative, and, finally, to her work as a historian. When the National Park Service began to plan the Rosie the Riveter World War II Home Front National Historical Park in Richmond, CA, Reid Soskin played a key role in shaping and designing the park, ensuring that the reality of history—including racism, segregation and sexism—weren’t left out of the narrative. The great-granddaughter of a slave, Reid Soskin’s life spans World War II to the Civil Rights Movement to the election of the first black president, and her experiences and observations allow for unique insight into our country’s history. The ultimate storyteller, she is the lead figure in a forthcoming documentary being made by Rosie the Riveter Trust detailing the African-American experience in the United States from World War II to the present day, and she was featured in a multi-part PBS special."

Amaris James: Eat and Be Merry for Tomorrow It May Kill

Amaris James
Professor Michael Benton
English 102
10 October 2019
Eat and Be Merry for Tomorrow It May Kill
             Our food system is broken. In the last hundred years, we have destroyed what took Mother Nature millennia to create. Worse, it took us that entire hundred years to notice. Seeds, the life our food comes from, are going extinct. At the beginning of the 20th century, thousands of seed variations were available. By now, 94% of those variations have been lost (Ray, 6). For the most part, this is due to the increase in industrial agriculture. Since 2005, ten companies have controlled over half of the worldwide seed sales through their creation of hybrid and genetically modified (GM) seeds (Ray, 37). These seeds are sub-par and full of GMOs that are harmful to people, animals, and nature. Within a span of a hundred years, we have destroyed our seed heritage and found ourselves in the midst of an agricultural apocalypse in which big companies profit by selling lies in the form of food.

            The issue with our agricultural system is a relatively new one. The mass extinction of 94% of the variations of our seeds has only happened in the last hundred years. Only in the last twenty years has the problem been discovered and researched. The first people to officially catalog the loss were researchers from the University of Georgia. In 2004, Paul Heald and Susan Chapman compared current-day seed catalogs to the United States Department of Agriculture’s American Varieties of Vegetables for the Years 1901 and 1902 that was published in 1903. They discovered that, of the 7,262 seed varieties available in 1903, only 430 were still commercially available in 2004 (Ray, 5-6). According to the USDA, among the lost are 95 percent of the vintage cabbage varieties, 96 percent of all field corns, 94 percent of all peas, 86 percent of apple varieties, and 81 percent of the tomato varieties (Ray, 16). Even though our supermarkets appear deceptively diverse, we have narrowed our agricultural margins to include a quarter of what once was available to grow. This problem isn’t unique to America, either. China lost tens of thousands of wheat varieties between 1949 and 1970, and Korea lost 74 percent of its garden crops in a span of the eight years from 1985 to 1993 (Ray, 16). But what changed in the last hundred years to create this agricultural apocalypse?

            The first nail in the coffin came in the form of hybrid corn. Hybridization, the process of speeding up plant breeding, isn’t bad in and of itself. Farmers have been using hybridization for a long time to combine characteristics to create more desirable plants. In 1924, the first hybrid seeds came on the market in the United States. The seeds were popular because they performed better. However, the significant downside to purchasing hybrid corn was that the seeds couldn’t be saved and used for future crops. Seeds from hybrid corn don’t grow true. Instead of producing corn similar to the original hybrid, it creates a Frankenstein corn that reflects the hundreds of strains that create it. Because of this problem, not many farmers used it until 1932. In the early 1930s, a bacterial wilt in Iowa attacked corn crops at an epidemic level. Glenn Smith developed the Golden Cross Bantam corn, which was a hybrid resistant to the wilt. Within the next four years, 90 percent of Iowa corn became hybrid, and most of it was that specific strain of Golden Cross Bantam. Ten years after that, by 1946, 100 percent of Iowa’s corn and 90 percent of all corn grown in the USA was hybrid (Ray, 12). Through the acceptance of hybridization, farmers gave up one problem in exchange for another. The inability to save hybrid seeds meant they no longer had to worry about harvesting or saving seeds for future crops, but, in exchange, they became prisoners of the industry.

            As if things weren’t bad enough, the industry released the plague that would come to involve not just seeds, but all commercially grown food: genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Genetically modified (GM) seeds became a product of DNA experimentation in the 1970s. Scientists were able to engineer a seed by turning off certain genes, turning on others, replacing one gene with another, or even adding DNA from entirely different organisms. By 1996, GM seeds had entered the market, and Monsanto, one the largest seed companies in the modern day, was quick to strike. Monsanto was known for its herbicide, Roundup, which was so powerful it destroyed everything, including the plant itself if it had already germinated. With the introduction of GM seeds, Monsanto built GM, “Roundup-Ready” corn seeds that were resistant to their herbicide. The market grew and, within a decade, over half of all corn in the United States was genetically modified (Ray, 14). As with hybridization, farmers embraced these new seeds that made their crops ultimately easier to produce.

            The introduction of hybrid and GM seeds meant the beginning of yet another disaster for farmers. Before the 1900s, farmers were very self-sufficient when it came to the creation of their crops. After purchasing seeds at the beginning of their career, they would save enough seeds from each crop for them to plant the next crop the following year. The creation of GM seeds gave companies the right to “own” seeds. For the first time in history, companies were able to patent strains of hybrid and GM seeds. Suddenly, a new monopoly had entered the world, and companies were in a race to the top. Chemical companies especially began to buy out seed companies with the prospect of capitalizing on the profits of genetic engineering. By 2006, half of commercial seed sales across the globe were controlled by ten companies. Monsanto was in the top three (Ray, 37). In less than one hundred years, ten companies around the globe had gained control over anyone wanting produce, whether they be commercial farmers or average people in their homes.

Once the market was monopolized, companies became occupied with expressing dominance over small farmers. Monsanto created a staff of 75 people specifically trained to investigate farmers who were illegally saving and reusing Monsanto’s patented crops (Food INC). These people went around, randomly testing the crops of farmers for evidence of Monsanto’s seeds. Even if a farmer was not pirating Monsanto’s seeds or had never purchased seeds from Monsanto, many found themselves being sued for patent infringement. These farmers were victims of “genetic drift,” the result of crop contamination from the wind blowing pollen and other seed matter from different crops. Monsanto was unsympathetic. By 2005, they had filed ninety lawsuits against farmers, been paid over $15 million for false cases of infringement, and had shut down many small farms that went bankrupt from legal fees (Ray, 117). Farming turned from an honest, natural trade to a battle of corruption and money.

            Unfortunately, farmers haven’t been the only ones to cave to the oppression of corporate monopolies thrusting GM produce down their throats. Large retailers of organic food like Whole Foods Market and Organic Valley have officially abandoned their fight against Monsanto’s genetically engineered produce. In a public display, top executives declared that they no longer disapprove of the commercialization of Monsanto’s genetically engineered crops (Cummins, 2011). Why the sudden decision to go against literally everything these companies stand for? Well, they know, just as the public is coming to realize, that $6 billion of the annual sales of “natural” foods from these retailers contain just as many GMOs as standard, non-organic brands (Cummins, 2011). In fact, over 75 percent of the foods seen in any grocery stores include ingredients that have been genetically modified, regardless of their labels claiming to be “natural” or “organic” (Food INC). Indeed, just by looking at one staple crop like corn, which is already known to be 100 percent hybrid and mostly GM, it’s easy to see how so many GMOs can get into our everyday food. Many of the obscure and hard to pronounce ingredients listed on a box of food are derived from corn. Ascorbic acid, baking powder, caramel coloring, citric acid, dextrose, artificial and natural flavorings, lactic acid, vinegar, and xanthan gum are all common ingredients that can and often are derived from corn products (Gluten Free Society). The only way to ensure a non-GMO product is through the label of “certified organic,” which only makes up about 1% of American farmland. Meanwhile, uneducated consumers spend premium dollar on “organic” products and boost the sales of fakes to almost $80 billion annually (Cummins, 2011). Our dinner tables have become a game of monopoly in which no one wins except the fat cats at the top.

            What is the issue with GMOs? Why are people opposing them, and why should anyone care? If science has managed to engineer crops to produce better, then why not capitalize on those opportunities? Alas, the main issue with GMOs is that they are not safe, and the effects of engineering food has not been tested enough to be proven risk-free. The FDA’s process of approving genetically modified foods involves measuring if they are “substantially equivalent.” Substantially equivalent GMOs have similar levels of nutrients, proteins, and toxicity compared to the original plant. They are considered to be identical to the original plant and are not required to undergo any further testing (Ray, 38). On its own, there may not seem to be any issues with that process. However, the system becomes illogical when reports show that the FDA stamps their “substantially equivalent” approval on almost all GM food, even ones that are shown to have a considerably different composition and nutrition from the original item (Ray, 38). With this approval process, it’s impossible to know whether anything in our food is actually safe for consumption.

At this point, genetic modification has been around enough to begin to see its effects. Because genetic modification is the result of inserting or changing DNA, it’s hard to know how that DNA will change over time. Many studies are beginning to publish research showing that GM seeds that were safe when tested in a lab became hazardous later on (Ray, 39). Some adverse effects shown in lab animals include abnormal blood cell counts, unexplained growths and tumors in the digestive system, increased allergic reactions, and even infertility (Ray, 40). Additionally, GM plants have been shown to have a damaging effect on nature as well. The scientific journal, Nature, published a study that showed the creation of “superweeds” through GM crops. Other studies showed GM crops harmed many aspects of the environment, including beneficial insects, birds, and even fish (The Council for Responsible Genetics). Although there are many studies “proving” that GMOs are actually safe, a closer inspection can show that those studies are funded from the very same companies that profit from the sales of GM products (Qutab, 2017). In truth, genetic modification is still too new to be able to see any health problems in humans, even though harmful effects are seen in lab animals and nature.

There’s no denying that the agricultural industry has changed dramatically in the past hundred years. We’ve come from a world of open-source, natural seeds and arrived at a place where a handful of giant companies patent and control the seeds that make up most of our food today. To save time and money, these companies have taken advantage of agricultural technology to create hybrid and genetically modified seeds that have questionable health implications. Although it’s difficult to tell what GM crops will do to humans, tests done on lab animals and the environment have shown negative outcomes. Because the FDA doesn’t require companies to put special labels on GM products, about 75 percent of the foods found in grocery stores contain GMOs, regardless of any descriptions involving the words “natural” or “organic.” At the rate our agricultural industry is going, we’ve managed to lose 94% of the food varieties we had one hundred years ago. The seeming diverse selection we have at the grocery store is just a lie we’ve been given. That lie is followed by another that suggests this is a satisfactory way to live. Even if we can’t reverse what has been done, we can prevent further damage in the future. We can stop accepting bad food as the new normal and fight for the small amount of seed heritage we still have.

Works Cited
Cummins, Ronnie. “The Organic Elite Surrenders to Monsanto.” CounterPunch, 28 January, 2011, Accessed 28 September 2019.
Food INC. Directed by Robert Kenner, written by Robert Kenner and Elise Pearlstein. Magnolia Pictures, 2008.
“Frequently Asked Questions.” The Council for Responsible Genetics, 2000, Accessed 3 October 2019.
“Hidden Corn Based Ingredients.” Gluten-Free Society, 2010, Accessed 28 September 2019.
Qutab, Marina. “How Do GMOs Impact People and the Environment – and Do They Produce More Food?” OneGreenPlanet, 2017. Accessed 3 October 2019.
Ray, Janisse. The Seed Underground: A Growing Revolution to Save Food. Chelsea Green Publishing, 2012.