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Title: Does TV's obsession with fictional American traitors affect our view of government?
Source: Weekly Standard
URL Source: http://www.weeklystandard.com/tuesd ... uld-care-about/article/2010094
Published: Oct 17, 2017
Author: Gregg Easterbrook
Post Date: 2017-10-17 15:27:50 by Tooconservative
Keywords: None
Views: 67
Comments: 4

. . .

At This Point There Must Be Casting Directors Who Specialize in Traitors. As Elaine Godfrey shows, Donald Trump is the most television-obsessed of presidents, watching the tube for hours on end. Presumably he appeals to voters who watch a lot of TV. What do people who tune in to the major networks behold? In recent years, show after show that depict the United States government in the hands of traitors. Perhaps there is a link between Trump telling voters that Washington, D.C., was actively trying to ruin the United States, and the imaginary celluloid world where this happens.

(Here’s your obligatory “spoiler alert” about the plots of some small-screen shows.) The latest season of Homeland, for instance, wrapped with the CIA dragging away members of the cabinet so traitors in the White House could rip up the Constitution. In the latest iteration of Fox’s 24, the Director of National Intelligence secretly is an Islamist fanatic who cackles about slaughtering innocent Americans. On NBC’s Timeless, America is secretly run by “Rittenhouse,” a Freemason-style plot whose goal is to turn the United States into an absolute dictatorship. Among other things, the show’s protagonists discover that the 18-minute gap in the Watergate tapes was to erase Richard Nixon discussing his fear of being murdered by the all-powerful Rittenhouse puppet-masters. On ABC’s Designated Survivor, traitors at the top blow up the Capitol during the State of the Union Address, murdering most of America’s government—a government so incompetent that no one noticed thousands of pounds of explosives being placed under the Capitol Dome.

But let’s focus on the primetime shows that voters, and presumably Trump, were watching in the runup to the November 2016 vote.

On CBS’s Madam Secretary, which has more viewers than 60 Minutes, the CIA director is a traitor who orders the murder of the secretary of State. When the noble Betsy McCord, protagonist of the show, takes the job, the CIA director wants her dead, too. On CBS’s Hawaii Five-0, the CIA helps a drug cartel smuggle planeloads of cocaine into the United States so that, a noble Honolulu detective realizes to his horror, “the Columbian housing market does not collapse, which would reduce profits at the big banks.” In the many iterations of 24, rare is the White House official who does not serve the Chinese, the Russians, or a shadowy international organization.

Pause here to ask: Does the subliminal content of celluloid impact viewer behavior? Studies of children are clear that it does; studies of adults reach no clear conclusion.

For the last generation, movie and television producers have refrained from glamorizing smoking. Generally cigarettes are not depicted, excepted in scenes set in the past, and lighting up is never shown as pleasurable or chic. This constraint is based on the assumption viewers are impressionable, and believe what they see. During the same period, TV and movie producers increasingly have glorified violence, including by posing movie stars waving around guns.

So what do we observe in the period? America has less smoking and more firearm atrocities, exactly the subliminal message being sold on the screen.

Presuming movie and TV subliminal effects are not confined to cigarettes and guns, we might expect audiences to believe the traitor-at-the-top line recently being sold. And now for many more examples from the runup to election victory by the screen-obsessed Trump.

All five Tom Cruise Mission: Impossible films include traitors at the highest levels of the White House or U.S. intelligence. The three most recent James Bond movies, Quantum of Solace (2008), Skyfall (2012), and Spectre (2015), had highly placed traitors in British or American government. Captain America: The Winter Soldier, among the box office hits of 2014, was about a traitor at the top in Washington. The oily villain, played by Robert Redford, wants to use the “World Security Council” to end liberty in the United States.

In several of the popular X-Men flicks, not mutants but government conspirators are the true enemy of mankind. The first X-Men movie during the Barack Obama presidency, X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009), concerned a traitor who seized control of the U.S. military. The year 2014 would see $750 million in ticket sales for X-Men: Days of Future Past, a star-studded film about a secret White House project to build a robot army to enforce dictatorship. Benedict Arnold has even reached outer space. The highest-grossing Captain Kirk movie ever, Star Trek Into Darkness (2012), features a smirking traitor in the big chair at Starfleet.

Of course these movies are absurd, and most in the audience receive them as such. But the subliminal message—government is run by people who want to sell you down the river—may accumulate with enough people to affect the outcome in a swing state. And the Cineplex is nothing compared to primetime fare beamed into America’s living rooms, which seems telling since Trump and his backers are a TV-focused demographic.

CBS’s NCIS, the number-one primetime drama series for many recent seasons, has too many government traitors to count. Unforgettable, which ran on CBS from 2011 to 2014, included a plot arc in which valorous NYPD detectives discover the Truthers are right: 9-11 was an inside job carried out by traitors at the top of American government.

The NBC hit The Blacklist gave viewers an attorney general and a national security advisor who are traitors. For good measure, The Blacklist had the CIA staging terrorist bombings to kill American civilians, in hopes of getting a budget increase. The premise of the 2014 NBC series State of Affairs was a high-ranking Pentagon traitor helping an Osama bin-Liden-like figure conduct terror attacks on U.S. soil. The premise of the 2015 NBC primetime series American Odyssey was that the Pentagon is funding terrorism to justify a defense budget increase. In the series, when U.S. commandos stumble onto evidence of what’s really going on, the high-ranking traitors order an airstrike that kills our own soldiers, then send government-funded mercenaries to murder journalists trying to warn the public. (American Odyssey was cancelled before the Big Reveal, which surely would have been why the prime minister of Greece was played by an Irish actress using a French accent.)

The premise of the 2013 NBC series Crisis was that the CIA director was a traitor who controlled hit squads that traveled the United States gunning down whole families of anyone who criticized the Washington establishment. When a valorous FBI agent stumbles onto evidence of what’s happening, the CIA murders some FBI officials and hangs their bodies from Potomac River bridges, as a warning to the FBI to back off. This, seemingly, is what Comcast, owner of NBC, wanted viewers to think the nation’s capital is like.

Over on ABC, the 2012 primetime series Last Resort concerned a double-agent president who, following instructions from shadowy billionaires, orders a nuclear first strike on Pakistan, hoping to start World War III. With Obama the actual president, ABC, owned by Disney, offered viewers a series premised on high treason in the Oval Office.

In action movies and primetime drama, often the treasonous act makes no sense. Suppose the shadowy billionaires of Last Resort succeeded in starting Armageddon: How, exactly, would their hedge funds benefit? That actions of cinematic traitors make no sense carries over into the Trump worldview. He wanted his backers to think Washington officials actually sought to destroy jobs, hollow out the armed forces, and tolerate terrorism. What incentive would they have to desire such ends? Why would Democratic party politicians, dependent on campaign donations from unions, scheme to get rid of the UMW and UAW? Trump offered little or no proof, rather, only implied that if something happens that we don’t like, it must be because of insidious forces. That’s exactly the worldview of primetime and big-studio treason plots.

Now consider what was shown on United Kingdom screens in the runup to Brexit. In February 2016, the BBC extensively touted a primetime miniseries, The Night Manager, whose premise was a high-ranking traitor at the top of British government. In May 2016, a big-budget movie, Our Kind of Traitor, opened in London: Its premise involved a high-ranking traitor at the top of British government. The movie and miniseries presented Ewan McGregor and Tom Hiddleston, two of the U.K.’s top movie stars, engaged in desperate struggles to prevent England from being sold down the river to other nations. Then in June 2016, United Kingdom citizens voted, by a close margin, to leave the European Union.

Of course most viewers don’t fall for Hollywood drivel. But ridiculous treason-at-the-top entertainment needed only influence voters at the margins to have been a factor in the 2016 presidential election and the Brexit ballot.

. . .


Poster Comment:

This piece was buried in the middle of a big football article for some reason.

Post Comment   Private Reply   Ignore Thread  


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#1. To: Tooconservative, Bill Kristol, Leon Trotsky, Weakly Standard (#0)

In recent years, show after show that depict the United States government in the hands of traitors.

Source: Weekly Standard

Your government loves you has only your best interests at heart, comrade. You must face Mecca Washington DC five times a day, and pray to the gods of State.

You can trust Bill Kristol and all the other severely conservative Trotskyites at the Weakly Standard for all the latest revelations directly from the gods mouths, to Billy's ear.

hondo68  posted on  2017-10-17   17:38:39 ET  (1 image) Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#2. To: Tooconservative (#0)

about as relevant to real life as football then

paraclete  posted on  2017-10-17   17:49:22 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#3. To: paraclete (#2)

about as relevant to real life as football then

He draws a weak parallel to smoking. TV stopped showing smoking, people stopped smoking. TV promotes a lot of programs around the idea of traitors operating at the highest levels in our government to subvert it or as agents of hostile foreign powers and suddenly we have Truther kooks all over the place.

It's not exactly a clincher. Even so, the motif of traitors in our government is a disturbing one that American media never really broached until the last 20 years or so. You had a few bits like Manchurian Candidate but they were pretty controversial. It was withdrawn from theaters and replays for many years as a result.

Tooconservative  posted on  2017-10-17   19:33:07 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


#4. To: hondo68 (#1)

You can trust Bill Kristol and all the other severely conservative Trotskyites at the Weakly Standard for all the latest revelations directly from the gods mouths, to Billy's ear.

Am I detecting a bitter hint of sarcasm? It's hard to tell.

Tooconservative  posted on  2017-10-17   19:34:30 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  


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