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1. Comments are still disabled though I am thinking of enabling them again.

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3. I will, in the next few weeks, be adding new pages with other indexes.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Mission: Unethical ?


I've been watching a lot of the old Mission:Impossible TV show recently. I bought the boxed set a few months ago and have now watched three whole seasons of it. I've commented before on the strange linguistic aspects of it - the way that many episodes take place in countries that have all the signs in either a mock-Spanish or a mock-Eastern European. Later episodes add a mock-Arabic and a mock-French.

Something else that strikes me more as I watch more is the deeply immoral premise of the show. Let's skip past the fact that in many episodes the Barbara Bain character, Cinnamon Carter, is little more than a Government sponsored prostitute who seduces whoever she needs to in order to get the job done. (OK she never actually sleeps with anyone, but the implication is certainly there.)
Let's ignore the fact that the covert Government agency in question acts completely outside the law - stealing, kidnapping, threatening, even persuading people to murder each other - though never actually committing the murders themselves. There is probably no law short of murder that the team doesn't break at some point in the run. But, as I say, let's ignore that too.
The most immoral thing is the basic premise - which is this: in US interests, anything is permissible. All the things mentioned above and much more. Although some episodes deal with criminals and gangsters, most deal with Government sanctioned operations in other countries. Leaders of vaguely defined "unfriendly powers" are undermined, deposed and assassinated. Governments of countries are clandestinely brought down and replaced by friendlier administrations: you could even say puppet administrations. Foreign treasuries are emptied, foreign diplomats are blackmailed into betraying their countries, foreign laws flouted with the same casual disregard as American ones, foreign embassies broken into and robbed.
The list is endless.

Now I'd have to say that it is a very inventive and entertaining show but when it was originally broadcast did nobody ever question it? Did nobody ever stop and think, "What kind of image is this creating of the Government?" I know there are conspiracy theorists out there who would say : an accurate one, but in the real world that's surely nonsense. Like every other country in the world I'm sure that the US has its fair share of secret operations in other countries, but the routine disregard and contempt with which Mission: Impossible treats every other foreign power is remarkable. 

For the record, I'm certain that it doesn't bear any resemblance to any actual US policies or agencies, but I just wondered if anyone in the US ever felt uneasy about this aspect of the show.

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