The first trailer for “Snowden,” the film about Edward Snowden and his journey to being one of America’s most wanted whistleblowers, was released this week. And if I didn’t know any better, I’d think it was a blockbuster thriller about the CIA being evil, instead of a film about a journey to seek the truth – and the consequences that followed.
Edward Snowden’s story is not one to be sensationalized (because if we’re being honest, it’s not all that entertaining), however, he – along with Wikileaks’s Julian Assange – has become the archetypal whistleblower, wanted by both their government and their people (and not for good reasons).
They’re either saving the day or endangering us all – but that just isn’t the case. Whistleblowers may have illegal means to what they consider a just end, but they are regular citizens like you and I. So why all the haters?
Whistleblowing is taboo for only one concrete reason: what they do is illegal.
Publishing information that is considered “confidential” by the government (and is considered to cause irreparable harm) is not protected under any law. So technically whistleblowers are criminals – far from heroes – at least in the United States.
Edward Snowden is living with the after effects of his choices as we speak, hiding out in Russia and avoiding incarceration in America.
Many consider whistleblowers inconsiderate and accuse them of “playing God”; who are they to decide what the world should or shouldn’t know? However, leaking secrets hardly makes for an enemy of the state, especially considering the fact that these “secrets” that have been leaked, have done nothing more than expose the government for what it is: a liar spying on its citizens.
This new Snowden film is just another act of sensationalization over whistleblowers and their stigmas, skewed like a thriller where it’s man vs. government and only one gets out alive. A story like this needs to be told with accuracy, not ridiculous amounts of special effects, but regardless of the method “haters gonna hate” (as T-Swizzle would put it).
Such a depiction of whistleblowing will not only further its generalization, but will send one of two messages: fear thy government or fear thy possible-whistleblowing neighbor.
The film is set to premiere May 13, but the passionate opinions surrounding whistleblowing, and the act itself, will be something to continue to watch for much, much longer.