South by South Left: SXSW Honors Chelsea Clinton, Assange, Snowden and an Abortionist
SXSW started as a meetup for tech experts, but attendance has grown 300 percent since since 2009 (as many as 150,000 people are expected to come to Austin, TX, this year starting March 7), and it has turned into a pop culture party, featuring more celebrity special guests each year. This year, the guest list includes Jimmy Kimmel, Seth Myers, Mindy Kaling, Rosario Dawson, Jason Bateman, Jon Favreau, Nicolas Cage, Andy Samberg, Lou Reed, CeeLo Green, Wiz Khalifa, 50 Cent and Bill Nye.
Of course with the addition of more celebrities comes with more radically left politics. This year, documentaries and sessions honor abortion doctors, the environment, and the LGBT community; and speakers include HBO’s “Girls” Lena Dunham, Wikileaks’ Julian Assange, NSA leaker Edward Snowden and Chelsea Clinton.
Janet Pierson, a SXSW film expert told Variety that SXSW filmmakers have an “instinctive sense of what makes sense for us. We like to take chances; we like stuff that’s out there sexually, politically incorrect or not glossy, and there’s a bias towards naturalism and authenticity.” (Right, because there’s nothing politically correct about greens and gays.)
But celebrating the “out-there” and left-wing certainly defines this festival, which will feature frequently nude feminist/actor/director Lena Dunham as a keynote speaker along with Wikeleaker Julian Assange, who will be giving his talk through video broadcast, since he is hiding from criminal charges at the Ecuadorean embassy in London. Another fugitive, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden will chat via teleconference with ACLU’s Christopher Soghoian, March 10. Former “Guardian” journalist Glenn Greenwald, who broke the NSA scandal, will also be talking on a panel Saturday.
Notice a theme? According to the South by Southwest website, this was purposeful:
“Surveillance and online privacy look to be one of the biggest topics of conversation at the 2014 SXSW Interactive Festival. The number of sessions on this topic reflect the importance of this issue to the digital creatives who converge in Austin each March. As organizers, SXSW agrees that a healthy debate with regards to the limits of surveillance is vital to the future of the online ecosystem.”
Read More at MRC – SXSL