Jack Ryan is a hit. A big-budget, big-hit, bold exclusive from Amazon Prime TV. But all is not what it seems.
Do you believe it possible, that a story which touches your emotions can change the way you think about an issue?
With this in mind, do you believe that movies and television affect public opinion? Does life imitate art?
Here’s a more subtle question… When liberal media outlets cover news items with an obvious liberal bias… Do you, as a conservative tend to take a position that is opposed to said leftist bias? AND… do you think it’s possible that this happens by design?
The usual suspects reviewing “Jack Ryan” speak well of John Krasinski who plays the title role. The same for Wendell Pierce as James Greer. But, the same reviewers’ characterizations of the plot are a “dog whistle.” Remember that term, we’ll circle back to it later.
The self-important, self-righteous, leftist moralizing of Vanity Fair is so blatant, that pointing it out isn’t even a challenge anymore. Their reviewer called it “a patriotic nightmare” and went on to opine that “Watching this show feels like falling down a Fox News rabbit hole.” For now, ignore the seeming irony of “leftist moralizing,” as that is a separate discussion.
Sophie Gilbert, of The Atlantic writes in “Jack Ryan, Reaganite Hero” that Tom Clancy’s character is “a former Marine, Wall Street millionaire, reluctant CIA agent, and loyal family man” and “has long been a symbol of a bygone era.”
It’s a decent shoot-em-up
I watched the first two episodes, and found it to be entertaining TV. It pushes the right buttons, in the right order to engage the conservative male. It’s a bit formulaic though, and I don’t object to that. We humans are predictable creatures, and sometimes it’s fun to kick back and enjoy the roller coaster, even if we’ve ridden it before (see also: Cialdini’s work on “Influence”).
Like any modern portrayal of Muslim terrorists, it goes out of the way to push the “not all Muslims are like that” narrative. James Greer is a lapsed Muslim, who drifted away after he and his wife separated. The back-story of the protagonist Ali Sulieman is sensitive. He is a loving father, a protective older brother, and a deep thinker. It should not surprise you to learn that his radicalization occurred at the hands of the great Satan.
The first thing you notice about Jack Ryan is his completely genuine, upright man who exudes innocence. Ryan is willing to own, and correct, any mistakes he makes. We see him as a tough-as-nails rookie, committed to “seeing it through” no matter the cost. The rest of his colleagues at the CIA are given similar coverage.
The Apotheosis of Jack Ryan
I remember well the Jack Ryan of Tom Clancy’s books. The ones I read so voraciously as a young man. He is the guy you wish would enter the military, the civil service, the CIA, or politics. More than that, he is the guy you wish to be (though to be honest, John Clark was the character with whom I most identified).
In my heart I knew the character of Jack Ryan is a fantasy. The sort of honest, upright hero that a masculine man looks to as a political “prince charming.” But even knowing he was a fantasy, I still secretly hoped for a Jack Ryan.
The producers took Jack Ryan from the pages of Tom Clancy’s work, and made him even more of a “boy scout.” Then, with a bit of movie magic, used this knight in shining armor to humanize and ennoble the CIA. An organization long associated with the dark underbelly of American government.
This is no accident.
First, a bit of set-up:
This is an Amazon original series. Amazon, as you know, is owned by Jeff Bezos, who also owns the Washington Post. WaPo is one of the top-tier leftist publications in the country. Her peer group includes NYT, CNN, etc. One conservative pundit rightly identified WaPo as nothing more than a “deep state blog.”
Dog Whistle for the Deep State?
When leftists speak ill of things like God, family, country, football, apple pie, patriotism, and the flag, any normal conservative gets defensive. These things, and other such Americana are part of our heritage and culture. So when leftist rags sneer at “Jack Ryan” for its overdone patriotism, its lack of nuance, or its apparent cry for a bygone era of upright men… it compels some conservatives to become biased in favor of the show, sight unseen.
The result is a subtle psychological shift in the mind of the viewers… in favor of the characters and institutions portrayed. Therein is the whole aim.
Soon, Americans will learn of high crimes committed by senior government officials in previous administrations: treason, sedition, coup attempts, and worse. One of the the organizations under a microscope will be the CIA (along with the FBI, the DOJ, and others). The CIA has, for years, played the foil for do-gooder characters in books and movies. Particularly during Republican administrations. But now… The deep state needs to whitewash the beleaguered institution before her corruption is laid bare.
If Shows like “Jack Ryan” can plant a seed in John Q. Public’s mind, suggesting that the CIA stands for truth, justice, and the American way… the deep state may yet survive the storm that is about to be unleashed upon them.