Blacklisting Occupy Wall Street and Banksy: NBC's "The Blacklist"
By Dennis Loo (11/13/13)
In the new NBC drama, The Blacklist, James Spader plays Raymond “Red” Reddington, a former government agent who becomes a master criminal, earning a spot on the FBI’s Most Wanted List.
For reasons known only to him, he turns himself into the FBI and offers to help them catch the bad guys, on one condition, that he works only with Elizabeth “Liz” Keen, played by Megan Boone. Liz is puzzled by this and doesn’t know why Red is interested in her.
The reason is revealed to viewers obliquely in this week’s episode: Red is Liz’s real biological father, but the only person who knows this is Liz’s adopted father who is hospitalized with six weeks to live because his cancer has metastasized. After reminiscing with him warmly, Red smoothers him to death, to save him from the agony of dying from cancer or perhaps to keep him from revealing to Liz who her real father is.
(The Red/Liz relationship reminds me of a plot line in David Baldacci novels where an embittered ex-superspy (pseudonym "Oliver Stone") has a daughter who works for the government but who doesn’t know that her real father is him.)
The show is much better than the average major network show. It features harrowingly horrible villains that make Red, “The Concierge of Crime,” seem positively beneficent by comparison.
This week’s show viciously assaults the Occupy Movement and the artist Banksy by grotesquely characterizing them as anti-capitalist terrorists, bent on bringing down the economy through terrorist acts such as blowing up airplanes.
The real Occupy and real Banksy are as far from terrorism as they can possibly be, but truth isn’t going to prevent those in charge of The Blacklist from making this thoroughly deceitful defense of the existing authorities and this capitalist system. Their plot line matches the real U.S. and British governments' covert attitude towards Occupy as "terrorists."
One way those who rule over us defend their tattered legitimacy is to put popular criticisms of their system into the mouths of truly despicable mass murderers, thus tarring those accurate criticisms by linking them to amoral sociopaths. It’s a none too subtle fictional device to claim that the existing system is by far the lesser evil, making the violence used by the show’s protagonists appear as honorable peacekeeping.
In this episode entitled “General Ludd” (named after the anti-technology Luddites) Occupy-style demonstrators speak of crashing the U.S. capitalist economy and punishing the “oligarchs" who have destroyed the middle class. They wear masks and when General Ludd broadcasts his warnings, he uses a distorted voice similar to the one used by Anonymous. When Red catches up to General Ludd played by Justin Kirk (“Weeds”) - who sports peroxided blonde hair (is he supposed to remind the viewer of Julian Assange?) - he tells Ludd, “I like money. I like the lifestyle it affords me. I like the things that happen when you give it away.”
Ah, so the master criminal turned good guy loves capitalism, money and the pleasures money can buy, but lest you think he's just a money-grubbing jerk, he’s also a Robin Hood. How heartwarming and how convenient.
(On a related note, see my story about the DoD training all of its employees that peaceful protesters are engaged in "low-level terrorism." See also, "Comparing Bush and Obama in the 'War on Terror,'" and "We are the Enemy: Whistleblowers, Journalists, Dissenters and the People," Part One and Part Two. I have also written extensively about the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and some of the articles can be found in searching this site and the web using NDAA as a keyword and my name.)