11:52 GMT01 June 2020
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    The first day of this year’s Comic-Con was highlighted by a panel featuring film director Oliver Stone discussing his latest film, Snowden. Convention attendees expected a serious conversation about exiled whistleblower Edward Snowden, but the talk rapidly devolved into Stone warning the audience about the dangers of Japanese pocket monsters.

    After fielding questions about Manuel Noriega and speaking intensely about patriotism, an audience member asked Stone for his thoughts on the popular Pokemon Go app. Before he could answer, Zachary Quinto, who will plays journalist Glenn Greenwald in the Snowden film, interjected, "It’s this thing that separates us from each other." Quinto had mocked the popular game previously on Instagram, and was surprised at the backlash. "Everybody was like, 'It actually connects us with each other and gets us out of our houses and we’re walking around!' And I was like, 'Yeah, but getting hit by cars?'" 

    Quinto stated, though the question had not been posed to him, "I guess like for me personally, and no judgment attached to this whatsoever, I feel like people need to pursue what makes them happy, but what makes me happy is looking up from my screen and looking at somebody and putting this thing down for at least some part of the day. Finding connection that transcends the machines that are supposed to make us connected. I feel as long as you can find a balance in that, and limit your Pokémon Go time, then I’m all for it. Have at it." 

    The audience laughed at Quinto’s commentary, but Stone was not amused. The academy-award winning director chided, "It’s not really funny," adding, "I’m hearing about it too, it’s a new level of invasion. Once the government had been hounded by Snowden, of course the corporations went into encryption, because they had to, for survival, right? But the search for profits is enormous." Stone told the crowd he believes that applications like Pokemon Go are designed to encourage people to be voluntarily surveilled.

    "Nobody has ever seen, in the history of the world, something like Google, ever. It’s the fastest-growing business ever, and they have invested huge amounts of money into what surveillance is, which is data-mining. They’re data-mining every person in this room for information as to what you’re buying, what it is you like, and above all, your behavior. Pokémon Go kicks into that. It’s everywhere. It’s what some people call surveillance capitalism.  It’s the newest stage." 

    The panel moderator Dave Krager remarked, "You just made 6,500 delete Pokémon Go."


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    capitalism, Surveillance, pokemon go, Oliver Stone, San Diego, California, United States
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