Edward Snowden: Comic Books and Video Games Inspired, Motivated Whistleblowing

The Advocate’s interview with Glenn Greenwald reveals a lot about the lawyer-turned journalist who broke the Edward Snowden NSA leaks. And in it, Greenwald explains that during a his lengthy interview with Snowden in Hong Kong he learned what inspired and motivated the twenty-something security expert to blow the whistle on the NSA’s surveillance programs:

It wasn’t Hegelian theories on power structures or Ron Paul rhetoric about privacy; it wasn’t Nietzsche’s Genealogy of Morals (Greenwald’s greatest influence) or Jeffersonian notions of government. It was comic books and video  games. “You have good guys who are forced to do difficult but good things,” Snowden said to Greenwald, a bit embarrassed.

Greenwald goes into more, explaining how his husband, David Miranda, opened his eyes to pop culture.

“It’s not a simplistic ideology. David is one of the most complex, intellectually curious, and sophisticated people I’ve ever met, and he’s the one who convinced me that being influenced by the moral dynamics of a comic book or video game is no less noble than being shaped by a novel or a book,” Greenwald reasons. “You can watch The Matrix and take it as an action movie, or you can delve into all its greater existentialist meanings. All of the narratives in these comic books are about these single individuals devoted to justice who have the willingness to be brave, who can defeat even the most powerful edifices of evil.”

Exactly. Comic books, video games, movies, and yes, even TV shows can influence, shape, and mold character and morals. Unfortunately, we don’t know which comic books and video games  affected Snowden. Greenwald didn’t ask!

Paging Dr. Wertham!

Images from private collection (yes that’s Marvel Super Heroes #1, 1984)

8 Responses to "Edward Snowden: Comic Books and Video Games Inspired, Motivated Whistleblowing"
joelmael | Friday October 25, 2013 07:16 am 1

Who is David?


johnnyred | Friday October 25, 2013 07:17 am 2

Snowden as Peter Parker sounds just about right.


onitgoes | Friday October 25, 2013 08:12 am 3

BTW, Lisa, a local reviewer in Sacramento really trashed the Disney WikiLeaks movie, “The Fifth Estate,” saying that it was:

… the cinematic equivalent of sitting through a two-hour long media-ethics class taught by a condescending pedant with no knowledge of the subject.

This reviewer gave props to Cumberbatch but said it was too bad this film was so crummy.

File under: fwiw.


RodL2 | Friday October 25, 2013 08:27 am 4

Nothing wrong with fictional heroes personifying courage and high morals!
I was greatly influenced by listening to the Lone Ranger on the radio, as a kid. There was loyalty, honesty, virtue. Good guys! The same with Superman, Batman, etc.


Lisa Derrick | Friday October 25, 2013 09:10 am 5
In response to onitgoes @ 3

Oh The Fifth Estate wasn’t as bad as THAT, but Cumberbatch completely missed Assange’s compassion, warmth and humor. For that, see Mediastan, in which JA appears onscreen only a few times.


reader | Saturday October 26, 2013 06:36 am 6
In response to Lisa Derrick @ 5

Mediastan is great! And the brief clips of Assange are revealing on many layers as is the whole presentation. This is what documentary film making should be.

Now. About superheroes!

This has become a meme!!!!!! We are all in the soup and this is part of the soup we are in.

I was an IT CONFERENCE 3 years ago. Not a geek-fest. A business, design, social, and usability conference. The keynote started with an explanation of what was wrong with the Florida PAPER ballots in the 2000 US elections and ended with a call to arms that we are all superheroes ~ we all have the ability to make effective change in our fields, in our business, in our works, in our world, from our own capacities in our daily lives.

I have heard this theme elsewhere, probably on a personal front, though I cannot recall where or when, but enough that I recognize it as an active meme.

And that’s a good thing. I believe I it’s true. I believe that is why there is art about superheroes. And I am happy for any inspiration for anyone.


reader | Saturday October 26, 2013 06:37 am 7

joemael @ 6: David is David Miranda, who is Greenwald’s partner.


reader | Saturday October 26, 2013 06:37 am 8

That’s “joelmael” … osrry!


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