It's not easy being Orange
By Jackson Murphy
web posted February 3, 2003
The United States has upgraded its terrorism threat meter to the
dreaded orange level. I am not sure that I'll ever be able to
watch cable news again. Now the stock markets are ticking
beside the graphic for terrorism while CNN's Wolf Blitzer or
whomever MSNBC has dragged off the local weather beat from
Tacoma, Washington talk about it. But at least we are off yellow.
Perhaps the color-coded terror system is too complicated for
everyone-what changes about your life when you go from yellow
to orange? It wouldn't surprise me, considering that some people
think the television show Alias is too complicated. Jodi Kantor,
writing in Slate, suggests that, "viewers were having trouble doing
the constant double agent math. So in the space of that one post-
game hour, Sydney dismantled SD-6 in a single graceful bound,
fell ardently into the arms of her cute CIA handler, and unearthed
grave new problems to be solved."
What's to get?
Jennifer Garner who plays high kicking spy Sydney Bristow
as a sexy combination of James Bond and a Playmate. I smell
ratings gold, and yet it has been ranked around 65th in the
ratings field. The show isn't so bad, Jennifer Garner aside, but it
gives into the same temptations that most spy stories and
perceptions of spies that have haunted us for years.
They give the impression that that a single spy can actually save
the world. Let me put it this way: James Bond would have been
dead years ago if he was a real spy. Why? The guy doesn't do
much spying-he usually blows stuff up, gets together with
women, and drives fancy cars. Sure those cool gadgets, like
laser watches, are fun but when the C.I.A. can use remote
controlled airplanes equipped with hellfire missiles, who needs a
Besides Jennifer Garner in all her beauty is really unsuited for
tackling al-Qaida. She spends large portions of the show in
lingerie or poolside in a bikini-and don't get me wrong, there ain't
nothing wrong with that. Except that the chances she would be
able to put those ‘assets' to work on Osama and his women
hating thugs are slim at best.
I saw the newest spy movie The Recruit this week. What do
they teach people in Hollywood? How is it exactly that at a time
when spying has returned from a lengthy cold spell, and for good
reasons, that no one knows how to make that era invoking story
David Edelstein, Slate's film critic, thinks a timely and more
compelling movie would be a, "thriller that would explore, in the
manner of Graham Greene or the pre-perestroika John Le
Carré, the psychology of people with a fanatical dedication to
keeping their country safe but a readiness to learn from the
mistakes (both tactical and moral) of the Cold War. And there's
something obscene about the way, on the eve of war, The
Recruit exploits our urgent curiosity about the modern art of
intelligence gathering, then high-tails it to Stupidville—to a world
of crosses and double-crosses that exists only in the minds of
studio heads and whorish screenwriters."
I pity the day when a studio head green lights a movie involving a
protagonist that works in the Department of Homeland
Security. It is just too much to contemplate. "Mr. Ridge,
what color today sir?" I am on the edge of my seat already.
What is most interesting about the current climate on the home
front? That as the terror threat rises, and war looks inevitable the
general emotions of the people are steady-apprehensive to be
sure, but steady. The Columbia shuttle disaster was the first post
9/11 tragedy and it was absorbed quickly and we are moving
How else can you explain the pop phenomenon of Joe
Millionaire, The Bachelorette, The Surreal Life, and, American
Idol? These popular shows are escapists to be sure, but if I was
Saddam or Osama I would be afraid that on the brink of a
second war (the war on terror being one) the American people
are watching comfort television. The American street is calm and
Take American Idol specifically. It is basically The Gong Show
with extremely cutting analysis. Imagine if after a United Nations
Security Council meeting Simon Cowell, the bitter British judge
from American Idol, gave France a piece of his mind? "My
advice to you, France, if you want to pursue a career in
international diplomacy is, don't." "Appalling. You represent
everything I loathe about Europe." "Did you go to University?
Get a lawyer and sue that institution and get your money back."
Or better still if Simon was one of the weapons inspectors.
The terror threat code is orange, and life goes on.
Jackson Murphy is a commentator from Vancouver, Canada.
He is the editor of "Dispatches" a website that serves up political
commentary 24-7. [http://www.dispatches.blogspot.com/] You
can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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