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A Most Wanted Woman

Patriotism, Class, and the CIA

Early in Inherent Vice, Thomas Pynchon’s Watergate-era psychedelic detective novel, there’s a moment where the protagonist, Doc Sportello, laments the rise of the law-and-order cop TV show like Dragnet and The Mod Squad, inveighing against them as “pro-cop fucking mind control.” Later, in a tirade redolent with pot smoke, Sportello adds that “the tube is saturated with fuckin cop shows, just being regular guys, only tryin to do their job, folks, no more threat to nobody’s freedom than some dad in a sitcom. Right. Get the viewer population so cop-happy they’re beggin to be run in.” Despite President Trump’s fatuous protests about the “Deep State,” we seem to be in a similar place with respect to entertainment relating to the intelligence community, and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in particular. To wit: The breakout hit for Amazon’s streaming service for 2018 was Jack Ryan with nearly 40 percent of all Amazon Prime customers streaming the show. 

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