From the late 1920s to the early 1960s, Hollywood radiated pure gold. Filmmaking was highly regimented and most movies stuck closely to a genre with all of the associated tropes, though it could be argued that they were also setting the tropes that would persist into the 21st century. Many film studios glossed over the World Wars and ignored the Depression, instead providing viewers with idyllic fictions to occupy their free time. Off screen, stars had real lives that no one knew about. Politicians did their jobs and ladies were dames. Milk always arrived on time and marriage solved everything. Nowadays, we know better.
When trying to make sense of what often appears to be a senseless world, it often–and perhaps inexplicably–helps to look at satire. In the case of the recent protests in Ferguson, Missouri,…
On Monday, November 24th, 2014 a grand jury in Ferguson, Missouri declined to indict Darren Wilson, the police officer who shot and killed an unarmed teenager, Mike Brown, this past summer. The decision to drop the case against Wilson has sparked thousands of protests across the nation.
This case is notable for more than its highly publicized nature: it’s also incredibly unusual for a grand jury to decline to return an indictment. In 2010, U.S. attorneys prosecuted 162,000 federal cases, and only dropped 11 (16%) of them. According to University of Illinois law professor, Andrew D. Leipold, “if the prosecutor wants an indictment and doesn’t get one, something has gone horribly wrong… It just doesn’t happen.” As former New York state Chief Judge Sol Wachtler famously stated, a prosecutor could persuade a grand jury to “indict a ham sandwich.” There is one notable exception to this rule–when the accused is a police officer.
The alarming trend of grand juries dropping cases against police officers is not unique to Ferguson, but a nationwide issue stemming from a systematic lack of officer accountability. According to Michael Bell, retired Air Force lieutenant colonel and the father of a 21-year-old Wisconsin man who was handcuffed and then shot in the head at point blank range by a police officer, “if police on duty believe they can get away with almost anything, they will act accordingly.” Thanks largely to the Bell family, Wisconsin became the first (and currently the only) state which requires outside review of all officer-involved fatalities.
Even if positive social or political change comes out of Mike Brown’s death it won’t happen quick enough to change this week’s decision, and questions surrounding the case still remain. Jurors didn’t need to believe, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Wilson had committed a crime. All they needed for an indictment was to feel that there was probable cause. There were multiple eye-witnesses who claimed Brown raised his hands in the air, and irrefutable evidence that Wilson fired at the unarmed teen ten times, so why was the case against Wilson dropped?
Everyone seems to agree: the regime in Turkmenistan is rotten. According to Human Rights Watch, the Central Asian nation’s 5 million citizens live in one of “the world’s most repressive countries.” Reporters Without Borders ranks the country as the third most repressive place for journalism, only behind Eritrea and North Korea. The U.S. Department of State recently designated Turkmenistan as a “country of particular concern” for its abysmal record on religious freedom.
A secular democracy in name, Turkmenistan is ruled by the authoritarian President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov. He won re-election in 2012 with Saddam Hussein-style support of 97% percent of the electorate and 96% turnout. His petroleum-rich regime regularly arrests dissidents, journalists, and civil society leaders. And time in a Turkmen jail almost always includes abuse and often torture.
Clinical depression is a misunderstood affliction, and one whose understanding is seldom aided by popular media. This is unfortunate in its own right, but especially because major depression is one of the most common mental illnesses in America. The National Institute for Mental Health reported that16 million people over age 18 “had at least one major depressive episode in .”
That’s 6.9% of adults. Chances are that you either know someone who has struggled with depression or you have had episodes yourself at one point or another. Depression is strange; in some people, it can appear and stick around for several months, then seemingly vanish, never to be seen again. Others have chronic depression and need constant, sometimes lifelong treatment, which at this time usually consists of medications and/or talk therapy.
Movies don’t always succeed when it comes to acting out mental illness. This is a list of films that actually did it right. To set the scene, the video above presents a startling depiction of a real-life young woman’s fight with depression, among other mental disorders.