Homeland’s Alt-Right Season

SPOILER ALERT: If you plan on watching the latest season of Homeland (2011-) and don’t want to know anything about what happened, don’t read this.

homeland out is back in

Homeland just finished its sixth season and has already be renewed for a seventh and eighth, with a planned end to the storyline there. When the show began it was sold as the story of Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis), a U.S. Marine presumed to have been lost in action until he is found during a raid on a terrorist compound, after several years of brutal captivity. But the central character of the show has always been Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes), a C.I.A. intelligence genius who suffers from psychotic episodes. Carrie is the only one who suspects that Brody may have been compromised by the enemy, which turns out to be true. This doesn’t stop her from falling in love (lust, then love) with him, breaking up his marriage, and ultimately getting him killed. There are plenty more dramatic twists and turns, along with emotionally satisfying moments in the first three seasons, both realistic and unrealistic, but the Carrie-Brody love affair is the main throughline.

Season four was set in Pakistan, where we learned that the Pakistanis aren’t really our friends, and five was primarily in Berlin, where we learn that the sneaky Russians are still our enemies. Now, in season six, Carrie has come home to New York. No longer with, “The Agency,” she is a secret advisor to President Elect Keane (Elizabeth Marvel), who is opposed by some key players in the National Security establishment and elsewhere, who are will to do anything, including murder, to stop her. There is also a blow-hard, conspiracy theorist, compulsive liar of a talk show host, Brett O’Keefe (Jake Weber), endlessly complaining on his, “Real Truth,” program about how America is lost and Keane will destroy the Republic.

homeland real truth

My first reaction to the O’Keefe character was to recall Glenn Beck at his chalkboard, when he was still ranting on Fox News. But Beck now claims to regret the divisions he helped create in the American Electorate and he did not support The Donald, so he has fallen out of favor with much of the reactionary crowd he helped cultivate.

glenn beck chalkboard

Most people seem to see O’Keefe as an Alex Jones parody, though he never gets as loud and childishly angry as Jones does – and Jones’s Disinformation War followers were offended by this perceived attack on their phony hero from the get go. They, specifically, Paul Joseph Watson, writing on Jones’s website, laments the “fact” that:

The plots of earlier Homeland seasons were usually focused around Islamic terrorism, but in later series the show has kowtowed to political correctness and allowed social justice narratives to ruin the dynamism of what was once an enjoyable watch.

In truth, Homeland has always raised questions about the justness of American actions and the handling of the War on Terror (or whatever you want to call it). If that is something you want to lump under the all-purpose, and often meaningless phrase, “politically correctness,” so be it, but it’s nothing new. I have no idea what Watson thinks a, “social justice narrative,” is, since he gives no examples and puts no thought into that charge either, but I don’t see it anywhere in the show.

Watson, and many of the fans commenting on his article, also believe that the choice of a female President Elect proves, “how out of touch the producers [of Homeland] are with reality” (as if Trump won the popular vote or was somehow inevitable).

I think their real problem with the O’Keefe character is that he is too close to the real thing; a man willing to say and do anything to whip up the mob and murder truth for his own ends and perverted sense of self-importance. [Note: You can see more about Jones in my documentary, Conspiracy Theorists Lie (2015).]

alex jones on air

What I find disheartening is how much Homeland feeds into Alt-Right, conspiracy theorist paranoia; this season more than ever. By the end of the finale it is unclear who was/is in league with whom and if anyone can be trusted, including the new President. What is the real plan and to what end? Like so many shows, which I generally like, as shows (House of Cards (2013-) and 24 (2001-2010) come readily to mind), Homeland paints a very unreal and frightening vision of our government officials at work that is closely akin to the, “Deep State,” rhetoric of conspiracy wingnuts. One in which large numbers of public servants are ruthless to a fault and disinterested in morality, the rule of law, or anything outside their personal ambitions and sinister plots. My tinfoil head wearing critics scoff at me when I point out facts like this and come back with retorts like, “You’re so naive (or stupid) to think that government officials are all good and honest.” But that not what I’m saying. Not at all. I’m simply trying to put the faults of our government officials into a reasonable perspective. If America were actually such a pathetic, backstabbing, literarily murderous, Banana Republic, where vast numbers of bureaucrats and officers are constantly scheming to commit horrendous crimes and trample our Constitutional structures to the ground, then we would not be making up wild TV fantasies to entertain ourselves because we would be too busy living miserable lives and dying horribly in the nightmare clutches of a Police State.

Homeland keeps bring two classic films to mind for me: The Manchurian Candidate (1962) and Seven Days in May (1964). The first is about a communist plot to take over America, in which a soldier is brainwashed into becoming an assassin and the biggest anti-communist Senator turns out to be the real embodiment of the danger he has long been warning the people about. The second centers around a military coup, orchestrated by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, who believes the President is a “weak sister” and the nation needs to be saved from. If you haven’t see them, you should.

Homeland clearly borrows elements from these two films but it lacks the Kennedy Era sense of patriotism they champion. Homeland, like too many other shows and movies today, rarely seems to believe that America is an idea worth fighting for. Carrie is simply trying to stop terrorists from killing innocent people or trying to stop her friends from getting killed, and we’re just in it to see what Carrie will do next.

Episode 612

Fake History

There has been a good deal of talk lately about fake news and how social media has helped it flourish. Hopefully this will prompt more people to think critically about the bubbles we all live in and the need for thoughtful, fact-checked, and well-edited news outlets. This is not to say that the mainstream media is always correct, or free from bias, of course not, but it is vastly superior to the alt-right, radical leftist, and otherwise conspiratorial “news” on the Internet.

As regular readers already know, I have spent years now arguing against fake history and the danger of its widespread acceptance. My documentary, Conspiracy Theorists Lie (2015), deals with the gateway drug to all modern conspiracy theories, the assassination of President Kennedy, and the overwhelming load of nonsense that surrounds that case. Additionally, I have written on the subject and tried hard to champaign a rational, thoughtful view of history through every means at my disposal.

tellthetruthnov22I recently asked people to help me #TellTheTruthNov22 and turn that sad day into a hopeful one. Please take a few minutes out of your day to do what you can. Here are some suggestions:

  • Use the hashtag #TellTheTruthNov22 to show your support.
  • Invite your friends and enemies to check out my work.
  • Give Conspiracy Theorist Lie a positive review on the Internet Movie Database, Amazon, and indieflix.
  • Contact media outlets, show hosts, and journalist to tell them the truth is worth covering.

There is no shortage of conspiracy nuts out there with large media soapboxes and megaphones from which they can spew their poison. Men like Roger Stone, who even NPR has cited as simply a, “Trump advisor,” rather than a compulsive liar. Help me grow my audience and become the alternative to this garbage. Help me make fake history a thing of the past.

My YouTube Counter-Notification

As I have previously discussed, and discussed, BR Enter Music, in the name of the German National Library, has removed my documentary, You don’t know Hitler (2006) from YouTube and I now have a, “copyright strike,” against me (two more within 90 days and my YouTube account will be shut down). Yes, that’s right, I am being penalized because a third party, acting for a fourth, imagines that they own the copyright to a sound recording of Nazi Propaganda; specifically the, “Horst Wessel Song,” aka the Nazi Anthem, which you can listen to on any number of YouTube channels.

youtube-copyright-strike

In order to even access my account and file a counter-notification I had to complete, “copyright school.”

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As you can see, the instructions tell you to watch this video and answer four questions about it. I did not watch the video, I simply answer the questions and, “Congratulations,” I passed.

youtube-copyright-school2

Once I finally got back into my account and clicked on the counter-notification options they tried to scare me off from going any further.

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Only after this did I reached the box where I could enter the details of my counter-notification.

youtube-counter-notification-details

Unfortunately, YouTube severely limits the number of characters they will allow you to use in making your claim, so I could not put in the lengthy rebuttal I had composed. This was literally as much as they would allow me to say:

“In my expert opinion, as a documentarian and a professor of film, with an MFA in my field, I am confident that my documentary should not have been removed. I have composed a lengthy argument 1) Explain why Nazi Propaganda is in the Public Domain, and 2) Why, even if it was not in the Public Domain, everything I have done in this film meets the four criteria commonly used to define Fair Use in U.S. Courts. Unfortunately, YouTube’s ridiculous system limits the number of characters I can type here.”

That’s it. Not even one character more. Then I had to agree to their terms.

youtube-agreement-boxes

Finally, I was told, “Your counter notification is awaiting review by YouTube. If accepted, it will be forwarded to the claimant who removed your video. They will have 10 U.S. business days to review and respond.” So it’s up to YouTube to decide if my incredibly truncated response is even sent to BR Enter Music, and then it’s unclear what BR Enter can or cannot do in their “response” or what rights I have in this one sided process. What a load of crap! A big, stinky, corporate, bureaucratic dump. Let’s hope that somehow it all comes clean in the wash but this entire experience isn’t making me optimistic. Feel free to continue emailing YouTube (copyright@youtube.com), BR Enter Music (BRentermusic@gmail.com), and the German National Library (info-l@dnb.de and info-f@dnb.de) to tell them just how ridiculous you find this entire affair. Who knows? It might actually do some good.

If you want to see, You don’t know Hitler, it is still available on vimeo, and I just added it to my pivotshare channel, where I’ve been selling Conspiracy Theorists Lie (2015) for the last year. If you would like to read the entire argument I had prepared for my counter-notification…

 

Counter-Notification for You don’t know Hitler (2006):

I am writing in defense of my documentary, You don’t know Hitler, which was inappropriately taken down from YouTube because BR Enter Music, on behalf of Deutsche Nationalbibliothek, claimed that the “sound recording” rights to, “Soldatenlieder – Die Fahne hoch – Horst Wessel Lied – Version 11,” had not been approved for use in my video.

I am very disappointed in YouTube’s process for settling disputes like this, because no proof of the claimant’s alleged copyright was provided to me and I was forced to choose between a public domain argument or a fair use argument, with no opportunity to make both in the initial appeal process. I chose to focus on a public domain argument previously but I insist on making both arguments in full here. Before I do that, I feel it is important to note that I am a professor of film with an MFA that focused on nonfiction filmmaking. I would be considered an Expert Witness on the subject in a court of law and I am not just someone who randomly posted something to YouTube.

PUBLIC DOMAIN ARGUMENT:

The 1 minute 6 second piece of my documentary in which the, “Horst Wessel Song,” appears is a clip from Leni Riefenstahl’s most famous propaganda film, Triumph of the Will (1935). This film in particular and a great deal of other propaganda work created by the National Socialists (Nazis) was liberally used, without permission, by Hollywood director Frank Capra, working for the U.S. Government, during the Second World War. Clearly the U.S. Government did not see this as a copyright violation at the time. Additionally, the government of the United Kingdom expressly abolished any recognition of Nazi copyrights during the war. This practice, of assuming Nazi copyrights to be null and void, was also followed by the first major, non-governmental documentary made about the Holocaust, the French produced, Night and Fog (1955), and it has continued to be followed by many productions since then. I recall talking to the Israeli documentarian and author, Alan Rosenthal, when I was in graduate school, and he told me that he expressly would never pay to use any Nazi material or seek any permissions, in any way, because nothing could be more in the Public Domain than Nazi propaganda.

The Nazi State and the Nazi Party were a criminal organization, convicted of, “Crimes Against Humanity,” in international court. Their remaining leaders were executed and the symbols of their illegitimate regime were banned in Germany, yet BR Enter Music would have you believe that they retained their copyrights, including the sound recording rights to their hateful anthem, which could be passed on to future generations of Germans to exclusively control? This is truly an absurd position to take and it begs the question, “By what means did the German National Library receive the sound recording rights to this rally cry for evil?” Was it bequeathed to them by Joseph Goebbels and the Ministry for Propaganda and Public Enlightenment? Was some retroactive decree made by the present German Government to declare that anything sitting their vaults was magically theirs under copyright law? The idea that Nazi Propaganda is anything other than Public Domain material is morally reprehensible and legally precarious.

FAIR USE ARGUMENT:

Regardless of the weak nature of BR Enter Music’s copyright claim, my documentary is a textbook example of Fair Use. There are four factors typically used in U.S. Courts to determine Fair Use and you need not meet all of them to have a court rule in your favor, but in this case my work clearly does.

Factor 1: The Purpose and Character of the Use

You don’t know Hitler is an educational and political documentary, which uses Nazi Propaganda to show how the Nazis presented themselves and what they actually were. It is a transformative piece, which does not simply play the footage but creatively arranges it, along with original narration, to make thoughtful and important arguments. The film was also being offered on YouTube free of charge and free from ads.

Factor 2: The Nature of the Copyrighted Work

As noted above, the status of BR Enter Music’s copyright claim is tenuous at best. It should also be noted that they have not proven that the sound recording they claim to own is the same as the sound recording used by Leni Riefenstahl in her film. How can we be sure that Riefenstahl did not make her own recording of the, “Horst Wessel Song,” during the filming of Triumph of the Will? Additionally, even if it can be established that Riefenstahl used the particular recording in question at the end of her film, it was clearly used with permission from the Office of Propaganda and Public Enlightenment at the time. To say that any copyright holder can step in after the fact and say, “Yes, you had the right to use our material but no one has a right to show how you used our material,” is legal nonsense.

The most important point about the nature of this work is that it was made by the Nazis to promote Nazi Ideology. It is highly political, to the extreme, and very open to criticism and educational uses.

Factor 3: The Amount or Substantiality of the Portion Used

I used the entire 1 minute and 6 seconds of the song that appears at the end of Triumph of the Will. I was showing the audio and visual messages that Riefenstahl’s work was sending in their original context. This was absolutely appropriate to the arguments I made in the film.

Factor 4: The Effect of the Use on the Potential Market for or Value of the Work

Since YouTube does not allow certain types of, “not advertiser-friendly,” videos to be monetized (specifically, “Violence, including display of serious injury and events related to violent extremism,” and “Controversial or sensitive subjects and events, including subjects related to war, political conflicts, natural disasters and tragedies, even if graphic imagery is not shown”) I was not making any money from this video, nor would BR Enter Music be able to make any money from it on YouTube. Additionally, the sale of Nazi Propaganda material is extremely regulated, if not entirely forbidden, in Germany, and the market is limited elsewhere by low demand. Since, under my understanding of German law, BR Enter Music cannot sell copies of this song to the hateful extremists who may want it, nor would such people presumably be content to simply hear it in my film and never buy it from another source, if BR Enter Music was able to sell it to them, it is not reasonable to argue that my work has had any negative effect on the market value of the original work.

 

This matter should never have reached this absurd point. YouTube should not have given unquestioned deference to BR Enter Music’s claim against me and my documentary should not have been taken down from YouTube. I hope this counter claim will finally resolve this matter and restore the video to my channel because I am completely within my rights to have made this film and to publicly show it to others.

Thank you,
James K. Lambert

 

 

 

 

The circus was cancelled

A couple weeks ago I scheduled an appearance on Nick Spero’s Circus Maximus Internet Radio Show on the Renegade Broadcasting channel.

twitter circus maximus james k lambert

Nick is a conspiracy theorist, White Nationalist (aka White Supremacists), who actually believes that the Jews run the world, or that they are a grave threat to the world, or some such nonsense. I thought it might be interesting to question him about how he thinks and what lead him to this warped view of reality. He promoted our “debate” several times on Twitter and the day before he messaged me to ask if we were still on. He also asked how he could see my documentary, Conspiracy Theorists Lie (2015), so we could discuss it. I sent him a link to the media screener and thought everything was good-to-go. The next night I logged onto Skype and found the invitation he had sent me from the Renegade account but once I accepted it and told him I was ready he said nothing. I went on to Twitter and messaged. Still, nothing. Finally I found the live broadcast of his show, now in progress, and there was a guest host named Chris, rambling on about Osama bin Laden being a CIA Agent and a typical mix of lies, half-truths, and misconceptions haphazardly slapped together with bubblegum logic. So I messaged Nick again and told him, “I’m out of the pool.”

I have heard nothing since that night but I see Nick is continuing to tweet hateful drivel incessantly, so it’s not like he’s in a coma or something. Did he decide I wasn’t worth talking to? Did he fear he would end up looking bad on his own show? Did he suspect I am an secret agent? I don’t know that I could believe any excuse he might give at this point so what good is speculation? What I can say is that people like Nick are remarkably similar to all the other conspiracy theorists I’ve talked to about President Kennedy’s assassination and other fairytales. Their delusions are socially less acceptable than wild JFK stories but they are no more or less rational. They all deny, “the official story,” and anything that comes from, “The Government,” or sensible historians, because all authoritative information is, “disinformation,” in their minds. They all look very selectively at the “facts” (true and made up) because only things that “prove” the conclusion they have already decided upon are important. And they all have a hard time maintaining a consistent train of thought.

And yet they generally receive more attention and have more followers than I do. So it goes.

I’m on AM1130 Monday Morning

Up and At Em KTLK AM1130

You can catch me on the Up & At Em morning program on KTLK AM1130 in the Twin Cities, Monday, August 15 at 8am CST. We will be discussing the assassination of President Kennedy, my film, Conspiracy Theorists Lie (2015) and the dangers of conspiracy theories in general. If you can’t tune in live I’m sure they will post the podcast version after words on their site.

UPDATE:

My interview has been moved to a new Bat Time, 8:15am; same Bat Station.

UPDATE:

Here is the podcast of the hour I was on.