Amazon, the CIA, and the dream of American Exceptionalism
For anything so overdone is from the purpose of playing, whose end, both at the first and now, was and is to hold, as ’twere, the mirror up to nature, to show virtue her own feature, scorn her own image, and the very age and body of the time his form and pressure.
At it’s core, American exceptionalism is ethical in nature. Without exceptional virtue, the singular status of American technological and military power would seem uncomfortably tyrannical. Exceptional power demands exceptional virtue. In fact, the exception is to the rule that power corrupts.
Indeed, the American perspective is built on a foundation of mistrust of and opposition to imperial power. Reconciling this fundamental opposition to empire with the reality of America’s singular imperial status is thus a central problem within the American psyche. Here is the real crisis Amazon’s new binge-bait hero JACK RYAN is tasked with solving. He has to take the last 15 years of military intervention in the Middle East and restore it to a sense of post-9/11 righteousness.
The mission of the character Jack Ryan, which ultimately becomes to stop a sympathetic Lebanese family man radicalized by white bigotry from wiping out the political leadership of the United States, is a metaphor for the real mission of the writers, to rationalize and justify faith in the American Empire, in light of the woke ethics of the late two thousand teens and all of the inconvenient truths of the war on terra.
The dirty bomb is a metaphor for radioactive information that might fatally contaminate the myth of America being an exception to the rule that power corrupts. Hero Jack is a metaphor for the writers themselves, who are tasked with diffusing the awareness bomb that threatens to fatally undermine the exceptionalism, and hence the legitimacy, of the American National Security State. As Leto the Second, God Emperor of Dune, puts it: Government is a shared myth; when the myth dies, the government dies.
Not only do we have the ruggedly incorruptible Jack, built on the pure foundation of THE OFFICE’s Jim, conveniently explaining to an extra that he thinks it’s better to work for justice inside the system. There’s also a single, barely related, side story about a drone pilot who feels so bad about killing an innocent man in Syria that he flies there to wordlessly confess to the man’s nobly poor father and orphaned son. After killing 108 terrorists, without the blood of a single innocent to stain his conscience, the knowledge of one error in targeting drives him to effectively suicidal repentance.
Jack is similarly plagued by traumatic memories, from his time as a marine in Afghanistan. He’s wracked by guilt. It keeps him up late, and wakes him up early – which turns out to be great for his fitness regime and his career. But, it’s guilt brought on by being too damned good in a war zone. An orphan Jack tried to save ended up killing his squad and all the villagers they were trying to save from the Taliban.
Fortunately, Jack’s able to save another Muslim boy, not just physically, but from getting drawn down the path of anti-Western jihad. Jack fulfills his promise to the boy’s mother, herself the flower of Islamic womanhood yearning to be free, whom he had previously rescued from the misogynistic predator patriarchs of Syria.
Jack is the American National Security state, the CIA in particular, and Jack is good. Above all else, Jack is good, dig?
And this got me wondering: Given that JACK RYAN is produced by Amazon, and Amazon got $600 million to build a cloud computing infrastructure for the CIA, was producing JACK RYAN part of the deal, or just a happy coincidence?