I went to Trader Joe's last night and bought Irish butter and this astoundingly good cheese they have called "Unexpected Cheddar" (it's unexpected because it has a parmesan twist to it) and Malabari Paratha, which is apparently a south Indian flatbread and is kind of like if you steamrollered a croissant. And then I got my hair cut (I asked for "pretty short for summer" and boy did they take me literally), and THEN I went to the bodega near the train and got stamps and a chocolate bar and a Diet Coke.
The Diet Coke is symbolic. I wrote up this huge long post that (luckily for you) I never posted about how for the entire month of June I couldn't have a Diet Coke and how I wasn't angry that I couldn't have a Diet Coke, it's why I couldn't have one that was making me angry, so when I got paid I told myself I would buy a Diet Coke. And I did. And it was delicious.
I've been watching a documentary this morning called The Man Nobody Knew, made about Bill Colby, who was heavily involved in the Vietnam War and was director of the CIA in the seventies. I'm watching the footage currently of his examination before a Congressional committee into the misdeeds of the CIA, and it strikes me as downright surreal, the level of indignation being expressed over CIA covert actions. It's not that I think we shouldn't be indignant, shouldn't be angry, that the CIA assassinated or planned to assassinate major international political figures; it's more that I can't believe anyone actually was. I can't remember a time when it wasn't pretty much common knowledge that our intelligence agencies did this kind of thing. These men all seem so surprised.
It used to strike me as odd, when I was watching Torchwood, that I'd made such a complete transition from rooting for Mulder and Scully to uncover secrets to rooting for Jack Harkness to conceal them. That's a pretty big leap to make, that's changing sides, but I think it illustrates the mindset of kids who came of age in my generation. We grew up in the remnants of the Cold War and the beginnings of the war(s) in Iraq; I was twenty-one the year the Twin Towers fell. I have never had the luxury of trusting my government, but I've never managed to stir up much genuine rage over it either. It's simply the way the world is. (Which is terrible, I acknowledge, but I'm trying to be truthful, not perfect.)
It's not far from knowing these things happened (ala the X-Files) to accepting them to believing that someone who performed them could be considered a hero, or at least a sympathetic protagonist. Chuck is a comedy about the CIA in which one of the protagonists is openly an assassin; it's generally considered, without a huge amound of canon to back it up, that both Natasha and Clint perform assassinations regularly in the service of SHIELD, and yet they are superheroes -- in some way, within the movie universe, that's why they're superheroes, because they're the BEST assassins. There are relatively few reasons one needs a sniper outside of an active war zone, after all.
I read a fanfic, way back in the early days of the X-Files, in which a young FBI agent confronts the Assistant Director about a secret file, and is denied access. After he leaves, the AD turns to a shadowy figure and they discuss the necessity of silencing the young agent. The AD is, of course, Dana Scully, and the shadowy figure paralleling the Smoking Man is Fox Mulder. Mulder, if offered the choice to join the shadow government, would never; his crusade is revelation, not concealment (bear in mind I don't know what happened to him in later seasons; I stopped watching sometime in season four).
Ten, twelve years later, I wrote a story in which Ianto Jones is given an out, a chance to escape the shadows of Torchwood, and instead chooses to return to it.
It's interesting and educational, certainly, to explore the mindset and personality of people who can live these lives, and I'm not clutching any pearls and saying we shouldn't make these stories; I love these stories. I don't mind that Clint and Natasha are assassins, and I don't care that Jack has a secret island where he conceals victims of the Rift. The state of the world into which I was born allows for such flexibility -- everything is a shade of grey, and it's very difficult to tell the heroes from the monsters sometimes. What I find interesting and strange is that there was a time before I lived when this flexibility didn't come with the level of apathy that seems frequently to accompany it today.
And then I think about James Bond, who got his foothold in the forties, and The Man From UNCLE which broadcasted in the sixties, and I wonder if these hearings were when it began -- or if the outrage of the congressmen is a show to make them look more morally superior while being part of the system that spawned these actions.
It's a lot to chew over for a summer Saturday.