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Paleocons: Not Likely to Be Thrilled with New Jack Ryan Film

More like Jack Ryan: Neocon Thug
• January 17, 2014 12:16 pm

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I was surprised to see my friend Larry Danielson* at the preview for Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, Hollywood’s reboot of Tom Clancy’s signature character. Being a paleocon, he’s pretty antipathetic to the "military-industrial complex." So I thought I’d drop him an email to see what he made of the flick. My questions are in regular text, his responses in blockquotes. There are some modest spoilers.

So, what’d you make of it?

I don’t often write movie reviews or comment on a lot of pop culture topics, but the latest installment of the Jack Ryan was so annoying and awful that I wanted to say a few things about it.

Such as?

There’s the hackneyed treatment of Russians as villains. It’s like something out of the Bush-era neocon handbook. They have very good reason to be annoyed with us—so-called "democracy promotion" and the expansion of NATO into territories that the Russians clearly have a right to control—but the idea that Russia would engage in a terrorist attack against the U.S. to collapse its currency and send it into a new great depression?

That being said, in the context of the film, the U.S. was clearly the aggressor and Russia was well within its rights to retaliate. We definitely had it coming.

How so?

In the film, the American government refuses to back off its support for an oil pipeline in Turkey that would drop the price of oil and put the Putin government in danger of collapse. It is reasonable they’d be upset for such behavior and we should definitely have expected some blowback as the chickens came home to roost.

It’s just another attempt to impugn the government of Putin, a natural ally for U.S. conservatives.

This again?

Pat Buchanan is entirely right. You talk about press crackdowns, but who is defending Christianity against modernity? You talk about the need to pursue terrorists wherever they are, but how do you respond when Putin takes it to Chechen radicals? Conservatives say they are in favor of moral clarity, but who is clearer than Putin when it comes to the issue of gay marriage? As Pat says, "Our grandparents would not recognize the America in which we live." And they might be happier under Putin.

The ugliest thing? The terrorist sleeper cell setting up shop in a Russian Orthodox Church. Typical bigotry. Hollywood would never treat Muslims like this.

Fine, whatever. So, what did you think about the way the film handled the dread "military-industrial complex"?

Nice scare quotes. As if we aren’t living in a crony capitalist society that siphons wealth into the pockets of arms manufacturers so you can kill a few more brown people.

But yes, it’s absurd. Ryan—a doctoral candidate at the LSE, no less—is "inspired" to join the Marines after 9/11? And then he heroically saves a few of his fellows after a RPG attack? You know what would’ve been more heroic? Staying home and fighting to end that immoral war before it even began. That this film comes out now—after a decade in the quagmire—without even bothering to acknowledge our failed policies or the thousands of wasted American lives is remarkable. I don’t know what to make of that kind of propaganda.

Speaking of propaganda, did you catch the use of metadata in this flick?

It’s really something, you know? Could you believe that?

What’d you find so absurd?

In the midst of a meaningful debate, finally, about the role of the NSA hoovering up tons of information from virtually every American on virtually every phone line, Hollywood just happens to come out with a film that uses that very same data to stop a terrorist attack that will cost some 100,000 lives?

No mention of Edward Snowden’s heroism. No mention of the privacy implications. No mention of how this could be used to harm normal American citizens. Just propaganda, pure and simple.

So there you have it. The paleocons: not likely to be happy with Hollywood this weekend.

*Note: Not a real person.

Published under: Parody