My dad’s a bit of a conspiracy theorist. I grew up listening to him talk about movies like Pelican Brief, Ransom, and Conspiracy Theory and his ideas about government. When I got to college, I started watching The X-Files with my roommate. Now, I enjoy shows like Continuum, Almost Human (RIP), and Dollhouse. What is it about conspiracy theories that is so tantalizing?
The one fan panel I went to at Dragon Con 2014 was “Law Enforcement and The Future,” which referenced shows I’ve mentioned above, plus a host of others like Arrow, Crossbones, and Warehouse 13. It focused on personal rights versus safety and how current events like Ferguson and Edward Snowden’s NSA whistle-blowing have shaped our perception of government authorities and their role in our lives.
Panelists ranged from a deputy sheriff, two podcast speakers with interests in several of the TV shows mentioned above, and a criminal justice expert. People attending “Law Enforcement and The Future” included an Assistant Attorney General, a few government workers, and the rest of us who were there to mourn Almost Human and to discuss possible outcomes of current events.
While my dad and I disagree on a lot of things, we both have a distrust of authority. It doesn’t take much to see that power corrupts and that many times, politics and power intertwine in a host of unhealthy ways. We’ve seen the outcomes of problematic political decisions in events such as The Iraq War, we’ve seen political scandals rock our country, and we’ve had to come to terms with the fact that we don’t live in a world with a perfect system that keeps everyone safe.
Ferguson has opened our eyes to the murky depths of how closely linked our local government and our military are, with the military providing our police force with weapons of war. We’ve seen how little concern is shown for innocent bystanders, victims, and the truth. We’ve reached a point where we can no longer see a distinction between those keeping us safe and those taking away our safety.
Shows like The X-Files highlight the corrupt nature of government and the lengths they will go to hide the truth from the general populace. While we may not be facing an alien invasion, we are experiencing an invasion of privacy, and we are no longer counting on those in authority to help us, because they’re the ones watching. We no longer count on them to keep us safe, because they are the ones endangering our lives.
With current and past events, it’s easy to believe that “they” are out to get you. That it doesn’t matter what the truth is, they will twist the facts to make themselves appear in the best light, and those of us who stand in the way risk being eradicated or at least threatened into silence. The media enables this sort of behavior. While Ferguson should be front and center in our thoughts and on screen, it has faded into a near silent whisper while media attempts to look elsewhere for a story. The problem is, the events of Ferguson aren’t over. As I write, authorities have still not released the incident report from Michael Brown’s death, and they have been trapped in a lie concerning the release of alleged robbery caught on tape.
It’s easy to become a conspiracy theorist when you see events like this happen. It does appear that the government has it out for its own citizens. I think, however, that instead of getting wrapped up in conspiracies, the real truth lies somewhere in between theory and reality. We live in a world ruled by fear. It’s easy for someone to make a decision ruled by fear, which inevitably leads toward disastrous events like those of Ferguson.
The problem arises when those that make decisions in fear attempt to cover up their fear by bluster, insisting that they made decisions not out of fear, but out of a sense of duty, or pursuit of justice, or even in order to protect themselves from a perceived threat. When government authorities, whether local or national, attempt to piece together a version of the truth that puts them in the best position to retain power or gain power, we’d best watch out. While we may not all be on government hit lists we are all in danger of being caught in the cross-hairs of current events.
“Law Enforcement and The Future” was a highly interesting discussion on how recent events and TV shows have changed our perception of authority and how technology will aid them in the near future. Will they use more surveillance? Will it protect us or them? Will we see a change in how citizens are treated in a crisis, for better or worse?
While there are no concrete answers, this is a conversation that must happen. In order for anything to change, there must be conversation, and there must be action. Looking away and ignoring the problem won’t solve anything. It is time to stand up and protect ourselves and others from a system that has been given too much power.
This is why shows like Almost Human are so important. While it’s best to keep a level head and not take too much stock in conspiracy theories, there are things happening in the world that are of a highly suspicious nature. Continuum shows us one possible future if the police force were to be privatized and owned by corporations. Somewhere down the line, corrupt power melded with weapons, more than adequate finances, and the idea that we need more force to keep our country safe could result in a bleak future where none of us have privacy or protection.