Do Not Resist, a disturbing account of police militarisation in the US

Review of Do Not Resist (2016)

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Police forces across the United States have in recent years become increasingly militarised. Ostensibly, this transition is mainly to boost counter-drug and counter-terrorism capabilities of police forces across the country. It has occurred through various means, such as the ‘1033 program’, whereby excess military equipment gets transferred, typically for free, to civilian law enforcement agencies. Additionally, since 2001 there have been huge grants given to state and local police forces to be spent on military-grade hardware. Do Not Resist examines this pernicious trend and how it is impacting policing in the US.

It is definitely worth a watch; there are some absolutely stunning shots in the documentary, some eerily beautiful and many which make you question whether or not the film-makers were actually in America at the time. Perhaps the most memorable segment in the whole film is when we join a SWAT team raiding a suspected drug-house in a poor, predominantly black neighbourhood. Windows are smashed, heavily armed men rush into the house and everyone on the scene is interrogated. All that’s found is a tiny amount of marijuana. America’s pointless and failed war on drugs couldn’t be epitomised more perfectly.

However, I have one mild criticism of the film. I would say that it is perhaps a bit too dense in ‘moody music and shots of military vehicles driving around town scenes’ and too light on interviews with academics and activists who could actually explain the complex and nuanced ways in which militarisation affects policing. One of the main negative effects being, for instance, the way trust between communities and police forces will typically be eroded when cops go from being friendly, approachable guys standing around drinking black-coffee to black-clad soldiers with assault rifles and scary helmets.

When you think about it, it’s not necessarily that obvious why the militarisation of police is a bad idea- indeed, some of the public comments we hear from a town hall meeting are essentially just “We don’t want to see this in the USA!”. Indeed, but why not? I know that ‘experts’ are a derided bunch currently, but here it would have made sense to have included their opinions quite a bit more to help clarify the issues.

Nevertheless, it’s still a slick production and although it could be meatier in the interviewing department, it should be required viewing for any Americans interested in their floundering democracy. The implications really are quite profound; when the police start to see themselves as soldiers, what will be the end result for the country? What happens when even non-violent protests start being responded to by this new generation of warrior cops? Can the trust in police in poor black communities ever be cultured when impoverished, low-level drug dealers get raided by SWAT teams? Is the country now on a highway to fascism? Do Not Resist certainly paints a bleak picture of the future.

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Rogue One- Disney plays it safe again

Rogue One. More like Rogue Crap, amiright?! (2/5)

For some reason I’m becoming increasingly disdainful about popular culture. It’s probably because it gives me a false sense of superiority over ‘the masses’. Actually scrap that, it most definitely is because I’ve created a smug sanctimonious cave on a hallucinogenic mountaintop where I stand and shout “Bow low for me, peasants! My tastes in film and music are much better than yours!”.

That being the case, everyone’s entitled to their opinion and I think that Rogue One was really shit.

2D/2-MANY (geddit?!) Characters

Rogue One has a lot of characters and I wasn’t led to care about any of them at all. Jyn, the main protagonist, had about as much character development than one of my weirdo heroes in my 2-page epic stories I wrote in year 6. Cassion Andor was as interesting as yesterday’s shopping list (I included Hot Cross Buns even though Easter is still ages away, take that Jesus). For some inexplicable reason a blind Hare Krishna monk and his red Space-Marine mate were thrown in. Then there were a load of other minor characters that all just stood around and murmured things at each other. Maybe the reason they were so two dimensional was because since they were all going to die at the end the film’s creators didn’t want us to become too attached? That’s my theory anyway.

Things that didn’t make much sense

There was a lot of this.  In the final act of the film, the rebels discuss how weak they are and how they’re not ready for battle. Yet they end up just doing this anyway. But even more confusing is that the rebels land with a stolen transport ship next to the Empire’s data-bank (it’s not as if the Empire would have marked that ship as stolen) with just a small number (we see around 10-15 soldiers) of rebels. Yet this small number seems to grow and shrink in size where necessary. Somehow, an entire garrison is unable to hold them off. Also, where did those shoe-horned AT-AT walkers come from? Also, how come a few ion torpedoes from A-wings can take down an entire star destroyer? Also only like five X-wings made it through the ‘gate’ and yet they caused havoc for ages (and seemed to grow in number?) even though there were endless numbers of tie fighters? Why didn’t the empire disable the transmission antenna (why was that even there?) at the top of the data-bank. Why didn’t they just station like two storm troopers up there? I know it sounds pedantic but hey, a nerd has gotta nerd.

I get that you’re supposed to suspend belief a bit, but there’s a fine line between an against the odds triumph and a battle scene that’s just beyond ridiculous.

Annoying things

CGI Tarkin- it looked awful. Why not just have a short sequence where he appears on a hologram- it would have been easier to have forged?

The cheesy Rebel-council meeting where they decided not to fight but they just went along with Cassion’s plan anyway. It was just so horrendously nauseatingly cheesy, “Hope hope hope!” bleughh.

Lack of moral ambiguity and darkness. Darkness is what makes good films great- it’s why The Empire Strikes Back is widely considered the best one. Don’t tease us with ‘oh the rebels aren’t that nice’ and then not show it! The character who I think would have been really interesting to explore, the rebel extremist Saw Gerrera, died pretty early on.  Why mention that he’s using extremist tactics but not deliver on that claim? A scene where he attacks some storm troopers but also causes large numbers of civilian deaths wouldn’t have gone amiss. Sanctimonious snobs like myself need some moral ambiguity!

Conclusion

Disney, unsurprisingly, played it safe again. We got safe characters, safe levels of violence, safe levels of darkness, safe plot twists, safe baddies and safe goodies. The plot was very safe as well. It was all packaged in a nice safe space-fantasy-romp suitable for the whole family and for the toys that they want to sell from it. Playing it safe is a disease that has infected all of the major studios, why take risks on a film when you can produce a generic action film that’s going to draw in the crowds and wow them with mediocrity. It’s an issue that is leading to an era of extremely forgettable films.