Sunday, February 13, 2022

Review: The Tinder Swindler

My wife and I watched The Tinder Swindler last night on Netflix.

Part of the story was some journalists who published an article of the same title in 2019.  You should read the synopsis and story if you haven't already watched the documentary.

I quietly watched, not feeling I could express my thoughts out loud as I knew I was seeing the documentary different than was intended by the documentations.  It wasn't until my wife expressed similar feelings that I felt I could share.

I could not see this story outside the context of my recent anti-racism learning. The story was to me an example of the outcomes of what was discussed in White Tears/Brown Scars: How White Feminism Betrays Women of Color by Ruby Hamad.

My alternative Synopsis

Three Western European (of Western European descent, not immigrants to region), due to the sheltered lives they have lived, fell prey to a simple Ponzie scheme.

When the police did not take the case of one of the women as seriously as she believed it deserved, she brought the issue to some journalists who widely published her case. That journalism lead to some of the victims connecting and sharing stories, and one of them finally took some responsibility for her actions and helped police to catch the perpetrator.

White Privilege

I have only recently become aware of my privileges.

It is a privilege to live within a country where the laws were created by people who have some of my democratic traits (Men of Western European descent).  While I live in what most people call Canada, in a continent which is clearly not Europe, my European ancestry has meant these European created/derived systems have never targeted me as being different.  I wasn't well-off growing up, but having the systems not help me individually is entirely a separate concept from the systems not attacking me due to having different demographic traits.

The fact that the story was about three white women matters.  Having never been targets before, they had the privilege of not being very aware of the complexity of the world around them. They made trivially obvious mistakes in their personal finances, mistakes which if someone of a different demographic background made them would have been entirely blamed on the individual.

Many BIPOC people are treated as if any financial issues they have ever had are entirely their own fault even when it is clearly systemic, but if a non-BIPOC person actually makes serious personal mistakes they are treated purely as victims.

The women have set up a GoFundMe to help them pay back some of their debt. No thanks, I'm going to continue to support Pay Your Rent which is far more deserving of my support.  (See: Nii’kinaaganaa Foundation).

(Social) Media

The end the documentary made it clear they do not assign any blame to Tinder as a social media platform. The first women we were introduced to is back on the platform, as if nothing happened.

There are serious systemic problems with media and social media. Due to a cult of individuality and anonymity originating primarily out of the United States, online platforms shield their users from accountability. A sense of entitlement without responsibilities is regularly listed as part of Western-European worldviews.

I have been arguing for decades that a variety of trusted authorities should be maintaining identity services. It could be a combination of government agencies and private sector, but communications on the Internet generally, and social medial platforms specifically, should not be unaccountable by default.

Social media platforms can offer aliases, but the individual citizen should be known to these communications proxies and able to be trivially identified if required by court order.

Anonymous sources have always been possible, long before the Internet. What this meant is that another human operated as an intermediary: you would be hearing from the proxy and not directly from the individual, and that human would be offering the anonymity. This proxy system provides accountability, which should be required of communications platforms.


Gold Diggers, or victims of systems?

They included some references to what the journalists thought were angry people on the Internet calling the women Gold Diggers.

What I see are systemic problems, even if those systemic problems have lead to a lack of individual responsibility. These women are attracted to what the society around them has indoctrinated them to be attracted to, and that includes blind desire of money.
Since they are blindly following cultural systems, it makes them easy targets for individuals or systems which want to harness those systemic flaws.
  An Israeli man born into a poor family and neighborhood wants to live what we are all told is "the good life".

I can easily picture him noticing that so most wealthy people extracted it from others rather than earning it, and decided to get in on that racket.

The fact that his Get Rich Quick schemes are clearly illegal, yet other equally dishonest schemes are still considered perfectly legal, is another systemic issue worthy of discussion.

As important as I think it is that the women are Western European, I believe it is important that the man was a Jewish Israeli. I see the history of the treatment by European Christian countries/systems of European Jews to be part of the story.

There is a common narrative coming out of Europe after the Second World War that during the early 1900's there was a "good" and a "bad" side of the treatment of European Jews. The reality is that there was a "bad" side and a "much worse" side.

The German Christian solution to the alleged "European Jew problem" is now known as the Holocaust, the systematic, state-sponsored persecution and murder of six million Jews.

The British Christian solution was to allow Jewish people to live, but ensure that they lived somewhere else. Britain caused the partition of Palestine, at the time under British occupation, after the war in 1947.  This is the same year Britain partitioned India, which was also until then under British occupation. The serious consequences of these British induced partitions are ongoing in both regions.

The United States, like Canada, was not created out of the democratic interests of the inhabitants. A small group of white-European men in British colonies, in minority-white regions of the world, imposed systems of government. They used racist immigration policies, gerrymandering and genocide to minimize domestic Indigenous populations.

Today four-fifths of the remaining Jews live in two regions that were formally or currently under British or British colony occupation: Israel (41%) and United States (41%).

My review?

While the documentary sparked thought, I disagreed with the narrative that the documentary was intending.  The media is once again patting themselves on the back, not recognizing their own complicity in perpetuating the systems that these individuals were all victims of in one way or another.

I wouldn't recommend it unless you have a lens different than the journalists involved. The documentary is seriously flawed.

1 comment:

Adelaide Dupont said...

Hello Russell:

I wanted to say how awesome it was to read that you had read the Ruby Hamad book.

I hadn't thought anyone knew her well outside of Australia.

And that you gave so much and contributed from it - and it was a significant part of your anti-racist learnings.