In Pentagon language, the grotesqueries are obviated, decisions of violence taking on an official bureaucratic banalities steeped in Orwellian doublespeak. Likewise, the construction of the myth/ideology of the clean and righteous precision kill continues in the Pentagon’s construction of the narrative of war.
It’s a futuristic Titanic with some features of Robinson Crusoe with a dash of The Shining. It’s a fun movie, but begins to unravel at the slightest scrutiny. But it is one of those rare cases where the film’s criticism, instead of wilting under this kind of picking of nits, begins to make the film more interesting. In other words, the reason the film doesn’t work is the reason that it works. I read Passengers as an exemplary demonstration of the American Self that reveals something about the tradition of the myth of the American hero, its vulnerabilities, and its projection into a future space to indulge the American settler mythology that is an ideological cornerstone of American society.
The thing was that the facts of the Cold War are far messier than the simplicity of this heroic narrative. They are far more ambiguous than the flat surfaces, where the gaps in this heroic narrative don’t add up. In Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA, Tim Weiner tells that the CIA was not nearly the clever intelligence agency of our popular imagination. The CIA’s history is replete with intelligence failures, and in essence, failed as an agency in the Cold War due to a lack of mission. They were designed as an intelligence agency. But they did way more than espionage. They engaged in counterrevolutionary measures9781433203022, called black ops, across the world. They set about, in large part, to remake the world according to the narrative of American power, and sided with military juntas in the so-called third world in order to do this. As Weiner writes, “In World War II, the United States made common cause with communists to fight fascists. In the cold war, the CIA used fascists to combat communists” (39). This resulted in fascist coups in places like Chile, Argentina and the Congo, and lead to the assassinations of democratically elected leaders like Patrice Lumumba and Salvador Allende.
Gone are the accouterments of the old neo-Nazis and skinhead punks. Gone are the black shirts, the khaki fatigues, gone are their wardrobe’s variations on confederate flags or regurgitation of Nazi emblems. Gone are the steel toed jack boots and shaved heads of the aggressive prison-tattooed machismorati. When the white supremacists moved from Idaho to Metropolis, they stopped of at Urban Outfitters. So there is Steve Bannon, who sports three layers of untucked shirts and cargo shorts and a pair of Birkenstocks. Under grey awnings he sports a permanent stubble. And Richard Stevens, that Eddie Bauer model, whose National Policy Institute presents the aura of yet another run of the mill political think tank.
A key part of this cultural move is to re-brand white nationalism with a more laid back, authentic, communicative style, poses as an inclusive ideology.