Monday, October 26, 2015

Homeland

It was last Tuesday when my roommate wondered if I've seen an episode of or knew of Homeland, and quickly replied, "I've read it's good." Good reviews, crazy, and mildly racist and inappropriate, at least based on a video I saw in BuzzFeed. But gripping, that was what I was to discover as an understatement about this series. Let's just say it gave Netflix-chill a whole new meaning for me. I was glued from that Tuesday night, from the pilot till yesterday, to its squeaky-clean Season 3 ending. 

Initially, I was biased against it. I felt this was a perfect example of Chomsky's "manufacturing consent," a means for the "military-industry complex" in priming (I learned from Nobel-laureate in economics, and psychologist, Daniel Kahneman's book Thinking, Fast and Slow) the American public (the main audience) on national security issues, erosion (or evolution, for better or for worse) of civil liberties guaranteed by the constitution, primarily privacy and habeas corpus, the rule of law, and lawful procedures by agencies. In other words, I thought this was propaganda, that it is still, as it is not a romantic story, a story that is artistically new and one which brings forward the art of the medium, rather it is a collection of events sourced from facts ingeniously meshed together with an overemphasis on human relations and personas, and jazz, seriously good. 

Before I began my critical examination of this series, and subsequently falling in love with it, I saw the film The Experimenter, 88% in Rotten Tomatoes, starring Winona Ryder, and Peter Saarsgard. This film re-taught me the "agentic state" of Stanley Milgram, the social psychologist whose 1961 experiment in Yale is the subject of the film. Today, he is the 46th most-cited psychologist of the 20th century, based on a survey published in 2002 by the Review of General Psychology

What is the "agentic state?" "People allow others to direct their actions, and then pass off the responsibility for the consequences to the person giving the orders. In other words, they act as agents for another person’s will." That's how simplypsychology.org defines it. Now, how is all this related to my initial subliminal hostility to Homeland? Claire Danes, Damien Lewis, Mandy Patinkin, the other cast members, the producers, the networks, the people behind the scenes who made this addictive series possible, are indirectly agents of propaganda by the military hawks in Washington. That is the major implication of the works I've cited here, if one thinks about it. 

I love the show now, but it doesn't change its nature, and what it serves, entertainment, and priming. Priming the public of what agents like Carrie go through in order to keep people safe. It is priming us of the bureaucratic infighting, and warfare, present in these organizations. That complexity, and its reverberations, precedes its real nature, goals, and ideals. Perhaps by seeing this revelatory material, we can understand what they go through, and therefore, judge them in a more sophisticated manner. It's an inquiry, not a damnation, of American intelligence actions. And I love it.

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