Power and Perfect Pictures

This post is part of a series that originated out of a photo essay assignment in Dr. Simmons’s Interim “Religion and Pop Culture” course that asked students to apply discussion themes to everyday objects or experiences.

When I was younger and more naive, I thought the future would have flying cars, cured diseases, and immortal people. Today popular culture more often utilizes trends of a dystopian future, such as the ones in The Hunger Games and Divergent. In these stories, there is great injustice and suffering, and the hero of the story must rise against the system. These plotlines occur where good ideas and intentions cross with futuristic technology and end up with unintended consequences. The shift in view of the future from a place we all want to live to a place only the damned are left to endure reflects the situations of the storytellers. Asking in a post for The Week why TV is “awash in afterlives, hells, and purgatories,” Lili Loofbourow states, “I’m trying not to read too much into this historical moment, but it’s hard to avoid speculating about the ways in which this proliferation of TV shows about people embracing the irrational reflects the national mood.” I think this shift in fiction, as Loofbourow implies, goes hand in hand with people’s everyday lives. Stories about the future are really stories about the present—about the people telling them.

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“I’m Ready for My Close-Up, Mr. DeMille”

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Yes, our Department is in the movie business.

Maybe you’ve seen one of our films, posted on Facebook or Twitter from our Vimeo account.

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I’ve been approached three or four times, over the past couple of years, for information on how we do this, so I thought I’d write a quick post for those who are game to give it a try in their own Departments. Continue reading

No Longer Recognizing the Mirror

citizenfourMelanie Williams — who graduated in 2006 with a B.A. in Anthropology and Religious Studies — is currently studying to become a commercial pilot at Gallatin College in Montana. She recently did a happy dance after earning her private pilot’s license.

Last night I watched “Citizenfour” at the Emerson Center, an old community arts building. Have you heard of the movie? It’s gotten a lot of Oscar buzz, according to the Bozeman Documentary Series director who introduces each feature. This film is directed by Laura Poitras and was shot mainly in Hong Kong, in the hotel room of Edward Snowden, as he prepared to release classified documents outlining the U.S. government’s covert and unconstitutional surveillance programs to The Guardian and The Washington Post.

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