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Three days into 2020 and we're already on the brink of World War 3.

If that's not proof we're living in the darkest timeline, I don't know what is. Luckily, considering nuclear warfare is the logical conclusion of this failed experiment called "human civilization," our species has already conceived plenty of potential guidelines for life in a deadly wasteland. These guides, better known as "post-apocalyptic movies," can help us prepare for the worst and, quite frankly, the most deserved end-times scenarios.

Snowpiercer

CJ Entertainment

Bong Joon-ho's pre-Parasite take on class warfare sees the struggle between rich and poor play out aboard a never-stopping train that carries the last surviving remnants of humanity. In Snowpiercer, the world entered a second Ice Age due to failed climate engineering to combat global warming, but thankfully, we'll probably get blown up before global warming gets the chance to kill us. Minus the cold, though, Snowpiercer teaches us to move to the front of the train and overthrow the bourgeoisie the first chance we get. Otherwise, they'll do really awful stuff to our arms.

Mad Max: Fury Road

Mad Max Fury Road

Warner Bros.

Probably the most accurate post-apocalyptic roadmap for the future of the global West, Mad Max: Fury Road conceives a desert wasteland dominated by rabid, drugged out white men. Then it'll be up to one really beefed up dude, but actually mostly a bunch of badass warrior women, to reclaim the scraps of society from the same people who most likely ruined it in the first place.

The Day After Tomorrow

the day after tomorrow

20th Century Fox

The Day After Tomorrow, an overwhelmingly scientifically inaccurate disaster movie that depicts cataclysmic weather events due to global cooling, probably doesn't have many lessons for our end-times (considering most of us will be piles of ash or smudges on the wall). But it does present an alternative that might make us thankful for the way we're going to go when Donald Trump triggers nuclear holocaust. At least we won't be cold!

Waterworld

Waterworld

Universal Pictures

The vast number of post-apocalyptic fantasies based around weather-related phenomena suggests to me that even the most creative people couldn't actually imagine a US president being dumb enough to try to start a nuclear war. But here we are, and Donald Trump's supporters are just as eager as ever to send their grandchildren to their deaths. Anyways, Waterworld isn't going to be happen, but it would still be cool to drink filtered pee as a source of nutrients.

Children of Men

Children of Men

Universal Studios

Anti-immigrant police state? Check. Abortion bans and restrictions on reproductive rights? Also check. The post-apocalyptic future conceived in Alfonso Cuaron's children of men might actually be the future a lot of modern Trump supporters crave (or at least the ones who survive the nuclear blast). As such, this might be one of the better sources to study to ensure your future survival. So here's a juicy tip. If guns are going to be everywhere anyways, we might as well start training.

Zombieland

Zombieland

Sony Pictures Releasing

I'm not sure that the nuclear fallout will turn everyone into actual zombies, but zombie-killing techniques aren't necessarily the core takeaway from Zombieland. Rather, the key lesson is make rules for yourself and always follow them. That's what college-aged survivor Columbus does, proving that a solid set of rules can ensure that even a scrawny dude built like Jesse Eisenberg can traverse the apocalypse using his brains.

Rollerball

Rollerball

United Artists

Okay, Rollerball might not exactly be "post-apocalyptic," but if we're going to live in a post-apocalyptic society anyways, I'd prefer it to be one where I can play Rollerball. If I'm not nuked right off the bat, I'd prefer to die during a gladiatorial rollerskating battle. Is that too much to ask?

They say the best way to overcome a fear response is to fully experience the source of your anxiety.

So whether or not World War III is imminent in the wake of Donald Trump ordering the assassination of Iranian general Qassem Suleimani, let's sit down and visualize what that would look like. Who would fight in World War III? How would domestic life in the U.S. change? What would happen to Twitter?!

Immediately after the news of the lethal air strike broke, cynical commentary from #BlackTwitter shone new light on the threat of global catastrophe: Wars don't affect everyone equally. With the hashtag accounting for hundreds of thousands of posts by early morning, Black Twitter flooded the conversation with reminders that the political decisions defining the U.S.'s relations with other countries are made largely by white men, as 52% of white women and 63% of white men voted for Trump, who ordered the strike without congressional authorization. Responses to the possibility of World War III that included light-hearted memes and gifs mocked the Othering of the black community, as one user called out, "Ppl mad cuz 'Black Twitter' is treating #WWIII like white ppl treat #BlackLivesMatter. Y'all gone on wit that mess. Don't ALL wars matter?!"


But people of color have always been marginalized in times of war, just as they are in times of peace–from 180,000 black soldiers being discriminated against while fighting to save the Union in the Civil War to the 932 Tuskegee Airmen of World War II, who were the first black military aviators in the U.S. Army at a time when segregation and Jim Crow laws were still enforced. And that's to say nothing of the total 1.2 million black soldiers who served during World War II but faced heavy segregation and discrimination both during and after wartime. Historian and scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. describes "Black America's Double War" as "the gap between the promise and performance of American freedom when it came to race relations," citing that throughout American history "many black people frankly felt alienated from the war effort." From the Civil War to World War II, "the military was as segregated as the Deep South," creating a tradition of deep "hypocrisy between conditions at home and the noble war aims" of the government in power. For instance, black soldiers account for a disproportionate amount of casualties, are appointed to far fewer positions of power, and are notably assigned lower duties more than their counterparts.

But Black Twitter already knows this. As one user tweeted "I don't know why people thought black Twitter wasn't about to get these jokes off about #WWIII. Black folk even had jokes when they was IN the last world war lol. They spelled Hitler name on an artillery shell like it was a Starbucks cup."

These days, about 70% of active-duty enlisted men are white, 17% are black, and 17% are Latinx, with Asian, Native, and mixed ethnicities comprising far smaller percentages. Should the U.S. be embattled in World War III, history suggests that it will repeat itself, with higher percentages of non-White soldiers dying than white soldiers and the highest government and military positions being held largely by white men. As The Guardian's Nathan Robinson pointed out, "White men have never made up the majority of the US population, and yet from the country's beginnings they have made up most of its political decision-makers… Demographic changes do not automatically change the power structure, and it's likely that we'll see a conservative white minority taking extreme steps to cling to power in the coming decades."

Speaking of "extreme steps to cling to power," a UN Special Rapporteur on Extra-Judicial Executions, Agnes Callamard, has condemned the drone strike that killed Qasem Soleimani as "unlawful" since the attack did not legally qualify as "self-defense," despite the Trump administration's adamant claims that it did. In response, Black Twitter has relished in a painfully ironic tweet from Donald Trump posted in 2013: "Be prepared, there is a small chance that our horrendous leadership could unknowingly lead us into World War III."


CULTURE

Rose McGowan Is Seriously Bugging Out on Twitter

Rose McGowan uses Trump's war on Iran to...come out as Republican?

Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images

The first real news cycle of 2020 has been more than a dumpster fire—it's been a straight-up garbage apocalypse.

Following the Trump administration's airstrike that killed Iranian general Qassem Soleimani near Baghdad Airport in Iraq––a blatant act of war against Iran, made without the approval of US Congress––#WWIII is the top trend on Twitter, alongside "Giant Bomb," China, Russia, and a whole slew of other world-ending sentiments.

But amongst all the fervor surrounding global destruction, one person's voice has risen above the rest to trend alongside the horrible hashtags. That person is former Charmed actress Rose McGowan, and even in light of everything else exploding on Twitter, her social presence today is an incoherent mess.

First, McGowan tweeted an Iranian flag gif, "humbly apologize[ing]" to #Iran for disrespecting their country.

As one of the 52% of people McGowan claims to speak for (presumably American voters who disagree with basically everything Trump does and stands for), I'm not particularly comfortable being represented on this issue by someone who seems to have so little understanding of the larger situation. Of course Trump shouldn't have committed an act of war like this, especially without running it past Congress first––but the problem isn't that it was an act of "disrespect."

Soleimani was a major backer of terrorist groups, and he was directly responsible for hundreds of American deaths––his death is not a tragedy. The problem is that it was an escalation of a conflict that did not need to be escalated, and now the US is on the brink of a war with Iran that the majority of American people do not want or support.

But that's different from humbly apologizing for killing a man who has killed many Americans.

McGowan continues, seemingly acknowledging this:

For whatever reason, she really does think that she's a representative voice for anti-Trump Americans. I have no idea if anyone in Iran watched Charmed, but I do hope that McGowan "taking one for the team" is meaningful to someone somewhere.

Then, McGowan feels the need to further clarify that she doesn't side with the US or Iran.

This one, I kind of get. Looking at the situation objectively, Americans aren't necessarily the good guys in the Middle East. Of course, neither is Iran, and for whatever it's worth, I'll take America, even in its current state of social disarray, over a genocidal religious regime any day. But okay, we're finding common ground.

And then McGowan snaps.

Apparently, all this stress has lead McGowan to go full white woman (considering most white women voted for Trump), announcing that she will be supporting the Republicans (who ordered the bombing she'd been Tweeting about for the entire day) because…democrats bad? I also love the additional hashtag, #RoseArmy, because seriously, WTF?

Then, in her next Tweet, McGowan took a complete 180, stating that actually, she will never vote Republican and does want the Democrats to win after all. McGowan labels herself a "conscientious objector to the USA," seemingly justifying her mental break in real time.

Don't worry, though. McGowan has apologized for "freak[ing] out because we may have an impending war." Which...yeah, but why would that lead her to announce her support for Republicans out of nowhere? She claims she was "freak[ing] out on those in power," but...how?

Through her Twitter tantrum, McGowan has only managed to stigmatize her own voice, showing an inability to thoroughly assess complex issues and flip-flopping political parties for no discernible reason.

But as unstable as McGowan's Twitter activity may have been, we can all feel safe knowing that at least she doesn't have access to any nukes. The same can't be said for the guy tweeting a low-res American flag picture after potentially initiating World War 3.

We had a good run, humanity, but the experiment has failed. Perhaps we should take solace in the fact that when we blow humanity to smithereens, we all kind of deserve it.

MUSIC

7 of the Best Anti-War Songs

The best protest music transcends time and is always relevant. Today, we need it more than ever.

This morning, Donald Trump authorized a drone strike at Baghdad International Airport that killed Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, Iran's top security and intelligence commander.

Since this action, which The New York Times described as a "serious escalation," the United States has been preparing for potential retaliation.

This event feels like a turning point in the midst of endless conflict between the United States and Iran, a flashpoint that has everyone waiting with bated breath. It's impossible to say at this point whether the strike will merely mark a continuation of previous conflicts or if it will launch a full-blown World War III, but for fear of the latter, some people have been turning to age-old mechanisms of coping with war and fighting for peace: anti-war protest songs.

The history of American war protests is intertwined with music. From Bob Dylan to Bob Marley, from Joan Baez to Jimi Hendrix, anti-war protests of the 1960s marked a glorious ascendance of protest songs, but many of them had their roots in the past, either in gospel or blues or from somewhere else, some undercurrent of defiance.

Many of the greatest protest songs are applicable across movements, accessing a core of anger and solidarity, and that's what each of these songs does. War has never ended; it's only moved and shifted. These songs remind us that the struggle is an age-old one.

  1. Masters of War — Bob Dylan

Very few artists are as synonymous with protest music as Bob Dylan, and "Masters of War" is one of the most damning songs of all of his work. It was written in 1963 as a protest against the nuclear arms buildup of the early 60s, and it's ultimately a treatise against the military industrial complex and all the forces that profit off the deaths of others. "You hide in your mansion / while the young people's blood / flows out of their bodies and is buried in the mud," he sings, one of the most searing lines in protest music.

Bob Dylan - Masters of War (Audio) www.youtube.com


2. War Pigs — Black Sabbath

Black Sabbath's vehement, sprawling f*ck you-ballad to everyone making money off war. The song was the opening track on the album Paranoid, and its original title was "Walpurgis," which references April 30th, a traditional feast day sometimes referred to as the "witch's Sabbath," a holiday with roots in the 8th century. It was released as a protest to Vietnam and the draft but has endured as an anthem to rage at the futility of pointless war.

BLACK SABBATH - "War Pigs" (Live Video) www.youtube.com


3. Redemption Song — Bob Marley

Few voices captured the fear of war and spun it into something like hope as well as Bob Marley. "Redemption Song" is timeless and of its time. With lyrics inspired by Pan-Africanist speaker Marcus Garvey, it speaks to a very specific and universal feeling. It's the last song on Marley's last album, written in 1979 when he was already suffering from cancer, and the stripped-down acoustic version is a mix of pain and faith.

Bob Marley - Redemption Song (from the legend album, with lyrics) www.youtube.com


4. Zombie — The Cranberries

"Zombie" is so catchy that it's easy to forget what it's about, but it was written about the casualties that occurred during the 1993 IRA bombing in Warrington, England as part of the ongoing war between England and Ireland. Dolores O'Riordan wrote the song in 1993, and its release—along with a music video that showed children playing war games and clips of British soldiers—resulted in a ban from the BBC; the video later garnered over a billion views and the song became a protest anthem.

The Cranberries - Zombie (Official Music Video) www.youtube.com


5. Jimi Hendrix — All Along the Watchtower

This cryptic song was written by Bob Dylan, but even Dylan began covering Jimi Hendrix's version when it came out in 1968. The song might be about Vietnam, Armageddon, or the crises of meaning that these kinds of events open up, but its true power is in the sound and the power of Hendrix's guitar skills, perfectionism, and ability to distill centuries of oppression into sound.

The Jimi Hendrix Experience - All Along The Watchtower (Audio) www.youtube.com


6. People Have the Power — Patti Smith

Patti Smith just turned 73, but her song "People Have the Power" is timeless and still resonates just like it did when it was released in 1988. Inspired by the radical spirit of the 1960s, it has since been used in protests everywhere from Greece to Palestine.

Patti Smith - People Have The Power www.youtube.com


7. We Shall Overcome

This song is likely descended from a gospel hymn by Reverend Charles Albert Tindley, who wrote the original version in 1900. The first version of the song as it is today was sung by Lucille Simmons, who was leading a cigar worker's strike in 1945. It was popularized by artists like Pete Seeger and became a seminal song of the Civil Rights Movement when it was performed by Guy Carawan. Then it was used by folk singers like Joan Baez at rallies and concerts of the 1960s. The song's mutability and applicability to so many movements reveal more about what all these movements have in common than anything else—a desire for freedom, equality, and peace, and a faith in the people's ability to get there.

We Shall Overcome www.youtube.com

Saudi Arabia is trying to save face.

That seems to be the underlying purpose of a massive festival called MDL Beast, which recently recruited supermodels like Alessandra Ambrosio, Jourdan Dunn, Halima Aden, Irina Shayk, and Elsa Housk to party in the city of Riyadh.

Other attendees—many of whom flew in on private jets—included Luka Sabbat, Peggy Gou, J Balvin, Ed Westwick, Winnie Harlow, Sofia Richie, Scott Disick, Olivia Culpo, and Armie Hammer. Many attendees apparently received "6-figure sums" or offers as high as 8 figures in exchange for their presence and social media posts.

Ostensibly, the bevy of stars and their entourages were there to attend a three-day musical festival, which attracted hundreds of thousands of attendees. Their presence was part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's ongoing attempt to modernize the country and maintain its lucrative relationships with other nations while distracting from the country's history of violence.

It seems to be working. Reports described the event as reminiscent of Woodstock or Coachella, and included a "rave" and "surrealist performers."

According to Armie Hammer's Instagram post, the event "felt like a cultural shift" and "will lead a cultural revolution."



Sofia Richie echoed the sentiment, posting an image of herself and friends, originally with the caption "Saudi Girls." The caption appears to have since been removed, but the photo—which remains—was taken at Riyadh's Ritz-Carlton Hotel, which is the same place where the Crown Prince detained political opponents in 2017.

Saudi Arabian influencer Nojoud Alrumaihi responded to critics and expressed support for the so-called cultural revolution, writing, "It's so sad to see posts based on complete ignorance and absolute media propaganda. While Saudi is pushing so much to change and to become the place it visions to be, we see posts like this from someone who never probably spoke to ONE Saudi person."


Emily Ratajkowski Declines Invitation to MDL Beast, Calls Out Human Rights Abuses

Not everyone was as quick to join the party. According to model and actress Emily Ratajkowski, who declined an invitation, attending the event went against her values and belief in human rights.

"It is very important to me to make clear my support for the rights of women, the LGBTQ community, freedom of expression and the right to a free press. I hope coming forward on this brings more attention to the injustices happening there," Ratajkowski told Diet Prada, an Instagram account that calls attention to injustices in the modeling and entertainment industry.

The Diet Prada account also posted a long critique of the campaign, citing Saudi Arabia's history of human rights abuses and violations.

Diet Prada ™ on Instagram: “What’s worse than an all white @revolve influencer trip? Cashing big fat checks in exchange for #content creation (aka propaganda) to…”



In another critique of the event, former Teen Vogue editor Phillip Picardi questioned the integrity of the positive messaging that ensued from the festival. "A lot of the messaging of the captions is about portraying SA as changed and accepting, and the trips appear to be coordinated with the government or tourism board," he wrote. "You can't really 'buy' that kind of messaging, and how was your experience there tainted by who organized your trip and what you can or cannot say?"

Model Teddy Quinlivan also made her opposition public, putting things a bit more bluntly. "If you're an influencer and you're promoting tourism to a place to [sic] openly kills journalists and LGBTQ people as well a list of other horrible and archaic laws and politics: You're a f*cking SELL OUT," she wrote. After receiving backlash, she quipped on Instagram, "I've been called a sl*t and a wh*re more times in the last 24 hours by Saudi Arabian trolls and bots than I have in my entire life."

Karen Attiah, a journalist and friend of Khashoggi, also blasted the festival's attendees, citing the inevitable corruption that stems from accepting a sum in exchange for publicity. "I, along with activists and journalists have been living for the past year with risk and intimidation for daring to speak out about Jamal Khashoggi's murder, Mohammed bin Salman and the abuses under his watch," she tweeted. "For Glamour UK to take money from KSA.. it's a slap in the face."

"The dark side of influencer culture is that it really is the ultimate expression of capitalism. Money over human lives. What good is your platform if you overlook Saudi regime's murder and torture for a few bucks? These influencers are just for-hire human billboards," she added.


Jamal Khashoggi's Murder Continues to Reverberate as Five Are Sentenced to Death

The list of Saudi Arabia's injustices is long. Saudi Arabia has actively funded the war in Yemen, which has led to what the United Nations described as "the world's worst humanitarian crisis."

The nation has also been condemned for the detainment and torture of woman activists, for regressive treatment of women, and for "the arrest, imprisonment and harassment of large members of the Shi'a Muslim community and other minority groups" and the "long-standing exploitation and abuse of migrant workers," according to Amnesty USA.

While this has been ongoing, Saudi Arabia gained international attention for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Today, the Monday after the festival, five men were sentenced to death for killing the journalist in 2018 after a trial concluded the verdict was not premeditated.

The list did not include any top Saudi officials, nor an advisor to the Crown Prince, according to CNN. Many viewed this as a slap in the face, as U.S. intelligence agencies have posited that the murder was ordered by Mohammed bin Salmad himself.

In a tweet, UN Special Rapporteur Agnes Callamard—author of a 101-page report on the murder—condemned the verdict, writing that "the sentence today is anything BUT justice."


The Implications of Visiting Saudi Arabia: BTS, Nicki Minaj, and the Politics of Performance

This is far from the first time that stars and influential people have sparred over whether or not to collaborate with Saudi Arabia.

In July, BTS made the decision to perform in Riyadh, having been personally invited by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salmad. They faced criticism but defended the decision. "If there's a place where people want to see us, we'll go there. That's how we feel," bandmember Jimin said at the time. The K-pop stars joined the ranks of artists like Mariah Carey, Enrique Iglesias, and David Guetta in deciding to perform in Saudi Arabia.

On the other hand, the same month BTS performed, American artist Nicki Minaj made the decision to pull out of a Saudi Arabia show. Like Ratajkowksi, she cited support for women, the LGBTQ community and free press, according to her statement.

Thor Halversson, president of the UN's Human Rights Foundation, lauded Minaj for her decision at the time. "This is what leadership looks like," he said. "We are grateful to Nicki Minaj for her inspiring and thoughtful decision to reject the Saudi regime's transparent attempt at using her for a public relations stunt… Minaj's moral stance differs from celebrity performers like J-Lo and Mariah Carey, who in the past have chosen to line their pockets with millions of dollars and stand with dictatorial governments as opposed to with oppressed communities and imprisoned human rights activists."

All this raises a knot of questions. When is art separate from politics, or is it ever? Are influencers and advertisers separate from politics?

In a situation where artists and influencers' positive PR is literally being purchased by the state, it's hard to say that these people can or should separate themselves from the political implications of their actions. While music and performance can create a bridge across political and ideological differences, in today's political theatre—when public personas are inextricable from their political contexts—musicians and content creators are increasingly obligated to actively align themselves with human rights, or face the Internet's ire. However, in a world where influencers still flock to Saudi raves, one question that remains is: At what point does an apolitical stance become indistinguishable from taking the position of the oppressor?