Posts Tagged ‘terrorism’

Once a Terrorist, Always a Terrorist: Sean Maher Meets The Mentalist *

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010 by

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Caution: Spoilers ahead!

No stranger to the Green Scare, the latest episode of CBS’s The Mentalist (Season 2, Episode 12 – the appropriately titled “Bleeding Heart“) featured a terra-inducing plot line, complete with a proposed mega-development in the wilderness, government corruption and intrigue, and a graffiti-and-arson-loving eco-terrorist named Jasper.

Here’s what you need to know, via TVOvermind:

Sean Maher as Dr. Simon Tam of Firefly

The Mentalist “Bleeding Heart” begins with Agent Teresa Lisbon (Robin Tunney) and consultant Patrick Jane (Simon Baker) being interviewed by a camera crew in the CBI office. […]

Lisbon allows the crew access to the office and bullpen, but not the crime scene. The team is investigating the murder of the mayor’s aide, who was found when the mayor herself broke ground in front of the cameras for a new development project. When they interview Mayor Melba Walker Shannon (Sharon Lawrence of Privileged and NYPD Blue) and her assistant Wilson (Firefly‘s Sean Maher), Jane notices immediately that the mayor seems uncomfortable talking about the victim. When he presses, the mayor asks them to leave.

A possible perpetrator of the crime is an environmental group led by a man named Jasper. Though they’ve burned down buildings on protective land and other drastic measures, they haven’t committed any murder in their past history. Rigsby and Cho pay a visit to the foreman on the building site where the aide’s body was discovered, but while they’re questioning him, the trailer gets firebombed and the door jammed. The foreman is injured and Rigsby and Cho barely make it out with him before the place burns up. It’s clear to them that Jasper is escalating in violence.

Further investigation leads the team to suspect that the mayor was being bribed to approve projects on previously protected lands.

The investigation continues, yada yada yada, Jane takes the news crew out for tacos by way of an apology for exploding at them earlier – and is promptly kidnapped by Jasper and his crew:

Jane is blindfolded and led to a cabin in the woods. His blindfold is removed and he’s confronted by the masked men, one of whom he surmises is eco-terrorist Jasper. Jasper wants Jane to carry a message that he’s not the one who committed murder or attempted to kill the detectives. Unfortunately Jane reveals that he’s figured out Jasper’s identity–the mayor’s assistant Wilson. […]

While Jasper tries to decide what to do now that Jane knows his identity, Jane tries to talk his way out of his own possible murder, saying he can help Wilson. He succeeds in getting Wilson to a near state of hypnosis, when they’re suddenly interrupted by a loud shout that the house is surrounded by law enforcement personnel. Jane urges Jasper to stay calm. When Lisbon and the cops burst in, Jane is alone and restrained and Jasper has escaped out of a trap door.

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The Men Who Stare At Hug Goats

Monday, January 4th, 2010 by

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Crossposted from V for Vegan.

Caution: Major spoilers ahead.

While The Men Who Stare at Goats is by no means an animal rights or overtly anti-vivisection movie, it does (happily!) have a few animal-friendly moments.

Based on a 2004 book of the same name by journalist Jon Ronson, the film is a dramatized account of Ronson’s investigation into “psychic” warfare experiments conducted by the U.S. military in the ’70s and ’80s. Ostensibly a story for the skeptic set (indeed, that’s why the husband and I saw it in the theater), the film also at turns sentimentalizes the “free love,” hippie sensibilities and mysticism of the ’60s and ’70s. (Indeed, it concludes on a disappointingly “anything is possible if you believe” note.)

Anyhow, along with all the “flower power” comes not a little tree- and animal-hugging. Goat-hugging, to be more specific: because the army’s more “practical” experiments involve trauma training carried out on live animals, the medical school’s in-house goats also play a role in the aforementioned psychic experimentation – the purposes of which isn’t nearly as sadistic as the trailers let on.

Lest I get ahead of myself, here’s a brief synopsis, via Wiki:

The film follows Ann Arbor Daily Telegram reporter Bob Wilton (Ewan McGregor), who one day interviews Gus Lacey, a man who claims to have psychic abilities. Bob shrugs Lacey off as crazy. Soon after, Bob’s wife leaves him for his one-armed editor. Bob, out of anger, flies to Kuwait to investigate the Iraq War. However, he stumbles onto the story of a lifetime when he meets Special Forces operator, Lyn Cassady (George Clooney). Lyn reveals that he was part of an American army unit training psychic spies (or “Jedi Warriors”), trained to develop a range of parapsychological skills including invisibility, remote viewing, cloud bursting, walking through walls, and intuition.

The founder of this unit, Bill Django (Jeff Bridges), traveled across America in the 1970s for six years exploring a range of New Age movements (including the Human potential movement), because of a vision he received after getting shot during the Vietnam War, and used these experiences to found the New Earth Army. In the 1980s, two of Django’s best recruits were Lyn Cassady and Larry Hooper (Kevin Spacey), who developed a lifelong rivalry because of their opposing views of how to implement the New Earth Army philosophy; Lyn wanted to emphasize the positive side of the teachings, whereas Larry was more interested in the dark side of the philosophy.

In the early 2000s Bob and Lyn embark on a new mission in Iraq, where they are kidnapped by a criminal gang. They escape with fellow kidnapping victim Mahmud Daash (Waleed Zuaiter) and get rescued by a private security firm led by Todd Nixon (Robert Patrick), but get caught up in a firefight between Todd’s security firm and a rival security firm; this would later be known as the “Battle of Ramadi.” Mahmud, Bob and Lyn escape from the firefight and go to Mahmud’s house, which has been shot up by soldiers. From there Bob and Lyn leave to continue on Lyn’s vague mission involving a vision he had of Bill Django.

Here it’s worth noting that Cassady recounts the story of Django and the New Earth Army as his Iraqi adventure with Wilton unfolds in parallel. Both tales begin on a light, humorous note, eventually taking turns for the worse. While the trailers and media interviews done in promotion of the movie tend to emphasize the New Earth Army’s more nefarious projects, Django began the program with the best of intentions: namely, achieving world peace through love and understanding. A laudable goal, to be sure – even if its implementation proved somewhat ridiculous.

However, Hooper eventually betrays Django, assuming control of the New Earth Army in order to corrupt it. (Think of Django as Obi-Wan Kenobi to Cassady’s Luke Sywalker and Hooper’s Darth Vader.) The peace, love and understanding of Django’s ’60s and ’70s give way to the greed, militarization and subjugation of – what? The Reagen ’80s? The Clinton ’90s? The Bush ’00s? All of the above? Take your pick! (The Men Who Stare at Goats is, if not anti-war, at least anti-torture.)

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From animal liberator to animal hunter: Life and death in the Dollhouse.

Friday, April 10th, 2009 by

Crossposted from V for Vegan.

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Caution: Spoilers ahead! (More specifically, after the blockquote.)

Firstly, I’m extremely happy to report that, as promised by Ms. Dushku, Dollhouse has improved by leaps and bounds since last I blogged about it. Not only have we gotten to know Echo – our hero – a bit better, but more importantly, the show has addressed “the consent issue” head-on.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. For those who haven’t seen the show, here’s a brief summary via Wiki:

Eliza Dushku plays a young woman called Echo, a member of a group of people known as “Actives” or “Dolls”. The Dolls have had their personalities wiped clean so they can be imprinted with any number of new personas, including memory, muscle memory, skills, and language, for different assignments (referred to as engagements). The new persona is not an original creation, however, but an amalgam of different, existing personalities. The end result incorporates some of the flaws, not just the strengths, of the people used as templates. The Actives are then hired out for particular jobs – crimes, fantasies, and the occasional good deed. On engagements, Actives are monitored internally (and remotely) by Handlers. In between tasks, they are mind-wiped into a child-like state and live in a futuristic dormitory/laboratory, a hidden facility nicknamed “The Dollhouse”. The story follows Echo, who begins, in her mind-wiped state, to become self-aware.

As I noted before, the Dolls’ lack of agency in both their “wiped” and “programmed” states makes it impossible for them to give meaningful consent – for any of their actions, including sexual relations. When a doll “has sex,” she (or he) is actually being raped. Usually the rapist knows full well that he (or she) is “having sex” with a programmable “doll” – so it’s rape with intent. Occasionally, however, the “doll” is sent on a covert/undercover mission – for example, to seduce a certain FBI agent – and sex becomes a tool she (or he) uses to that end. Such cases still constitute rape, but…well, it’s hard to say who the rapist is when the “doll’s” partner believes that the encounter is consensual. The Rossum Corporation, perhaps?

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Veg*nism & Pop Culture: But does Costa Rica have an extradition treaty?

Thursday, March 12th, 2009 by

Crossposted from V for Vegan.

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Very minor spoilers ahead.

I’m a few months late on this – for some inexplicable reason, my DVR “forgot” to record this Very Special episode of CSI, and for an even more inexplicable reason, it took the Mr. and I months to notice – but in the interest of closure, I just have to mention it anyway.

Early on in Season 9 of CSI, vegetarian and animal advocate Jorja Fox left the show; a few weeks after her departure, the writers dropped a subtle hint that her character, Sarah Sidle, had joined up with Paul Watson and his band of sometimes-merry eco-terrorist pirates at the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (if you’re not a regular visitor to Sea Shepherd’s website, you probably would have missed the URL).

Fast-forward a few months, to the Season 9 episode “One to Go” (9×10). Sarah’s on-again, off-again, is-he-her-fiance-or-isn’t-he? love interest, Gil Grissom (William Petersen) is quitting CSI as well. Most of the episode focuses on Grissom’s last case with Las Vegas CSI, and also serves to introduce Gil’s replacement, Dr. Langston (Laurence Fishburne!?).

However, in the last few minutes, we see Grissom

walk the halls smiling to himself as he looks in each room at the lab and sees Brass, Hodges and Wendy, other CSIs, Robbins and Riley, Stokes and Greg. He catches Catherine’s eye in one room and she winks at him. He smiles broadly and turns and walks away. The screen blurs, fades to white and cuts to Grissom wandering a jungle, dressed in a hat and sweaty gear examining a GPS marked Costa Rica. His eyes light on a bug for a moment. He walks into a clearing where a woman, whose back is to the camera, is taking a picture of a monkey in a tree. The woman turns and it’s Sara (Jorja Fox). They take each other in for a moment and then embrace and kiss, passionately.

As Cindy pointed out in the comments to a previous post, Sarah mentioned in an earlier episode that she planned to travel to the Galapagos; and indeed, Sea Shepherd’s activities include an effort to save the Galapagos, so that’s probably where she was (or was heading) when we saw her email Grissom. So why on earth are the two now in Costa Rica, hmmmm?

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Veg*nism & Pop Culture: Animal Rights Terra-ists on The Mentalist

Saturday, December 20th, 2008 by

Crossposted from V for Vegan.

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Proceed with caution: Spoilers galore!

Ten episodes in, and already The Mentalist has jumped on the animal rights terra-ism bandwagon.

Let me preface this by saying that I’m addicted to cop tv: The X-Files, CSI, NCIS, Law & Order, Criminal Intent, Life, NYPD Blue – I just love ’em. And my love runs extra-deep for the serialized cop drama/mystery/thrillers with a season/series-long story arc. Throw in a lead character who just so happens to be an atheist, and I’m hooked. Hello, The Mentalist!

That said, the latest installment (Season 1, Episode 10: Red Brick and Ivy) just wasn’t up to snuff.

The plot line is all too familiar: a scientist who experiments on non-human animals is murdered; the prerequisite, SHAC-like animal rights group which has been “terrorizing” said scientist (or said scientist’s university/lab/company/employer) for months is suspect numero uno. Cue the crazy!

In The Mentalist, the scientist in question is an up-and-coming neuroscientist who, along with his colleagues, has been conducting invasive research on animals (most notably, chimpanzees – unfortunately, a baby chimp does have a role in the episode) in order to locate the structures in the human brain which govern morality. The end goal? Finding a way to manipulate these structures and thus, magically, turn all of humanity into moral beings. Whatever that means.

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Veg*nism & Pop Culture: The Green Scare Comes to Life

Wednesday, November 12th, 2008 by

Crossposted from V for Vegan.

Major spoiler warning, people!

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I’ve been meaning to blog about a recent episode of Life for weeks now. If you’re not familiar with the show, it’s a kind of cop drama, in which individual cases are presented against the backdrop of a conspiracy-theory story arc which spans the series. Think The X-Files, Alias, Lost or The Mentalist – if you enjoy any of these, you’ll probably *heart* Life, too.

Season 2, Episode 3 of Life, “The Business of Miracles,” involves the murder of a cancer researcher. The main suspects, naturally, are a group of SHAC-like animal rights activists of the anti-vivisection variety. It’s been a few weeks since I watched this ep, so rather than try to offer a plot summary, here’s TV Recap with their recap:

Dr. Auerbach was a scientist who was testing cancer drugs on animals. So his death naturally occurs in the lab and on the window is written, “animal testing is murder.” Something not so natural about his death: He was frozen to death because some one switched his oxygen tank with a liquid nitrogen tank. But who could have done it? Maybe it was the group, BAT [Ban Animal Torture], that has sent Dr. Auerbach death threats?

[The group’s moniker, “BAT,” was also graffitied on the wall of Hurback’s lab. About as subtle as leaving an ELF calling card at the scene of a torched, insured, unsold McMansion, no?]

According to the group’s leader, Betsy, they wouldn’t hurt any soul, even one like Dr. Auerbach’s. She seems sweet enough. She even tells the other member to be quiet when he says it’s good the doctor is dead. So if it wasn’t her, maybe it was the assistant who seems too concerned with the results of the test. Or maybe the janitor? Or the company’s owner? Hmm. I can’t decide, and neither can Crews [Damian Lewis] and Reese [Sarah Shahi] so they do a little more digging and come up with…Betsy, the leader of Ban and the good doctor’s former assistant who left because they were having an affair. Say what?

I know, it’s a crazy little twist but it turns out that Betsy’s real name is Deborah and she and Dr. Auerbach never stopped their affair. And while it seems she has the perfect motive of conflicted emotions, she also has a videotaped alibi. So then Crews and Reese move on to the janitor, who originally said he saw Betsy at the lab that day. Turns out the janitor is stealing pills from the study and selling them. Or so it looks when he gives the box of pills to a woman on a park bench in return for an envelope full of…pictures? When Crews and Reese dig a little deeper they find the janitor’s son has cancer and the pills have been working for him and the woman is his ex-wife. I guess he has a good motive, too. And more importantly, he confesses to the murder. But something isn’t right. Along with the dead doctor, there were lots of dead lab rats. The only dead rats, though, were rats with red tags so why would only those rats be dead and who would want to kill them?

With the help of then now cleared ex-assistant, Crews and Reese learn that the red tagged rats were the control rats and you would want those to be gone if you didn’t want other people to know the experiment was a failure. And who would want that? Yup, the new assistant. Turns out she knew the janitor was stealing pills and blackmailed him. But he wasn’t such a moron that he didn’t have evidence damning her. He had a formula she wrote computing how much liquid nitrogen it would take to kill a man the doctor’s size. So the dedicated assistant killed the doctor after all. She had spent seven years working with him and now her career would be over because the drug was a failure. It was only helping the janitor’s son because he had an extremely rare form of cancer. It wouldn’t work on the mainstream cases. Guess that liar is busted.

Unlike many other cop dramas (the Law & Order franchise, if I recall, has featured its fair share of guilty, stereotyped animal rights extremists), Life doesn’t simply pin the crime on the “obvious suspects” and move on. Rather than get swept up in the Green Scare, Detectives Crews and Reese follow the evidence…which leads them away from the “bad”/”misanthropic” animal rights activists and toward the “good”/”altruistic” cancer researchers.

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Veg*nism & Pop Culture: Sara Sidle: From CSI to Terra-ist

Friday, November 7th, 2008 by

Crossposted from V for Vegan.

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On yesterday’s episode of CSI (“Leave Out All the Rest“), recently departed CSI Sara Sidle sends Gil Grissom a .mov file -slash- Dear John “letter” over the internets. Look closely, and you can briefly see her email address flash across the screen: info@seashepherd.org. ZOMG! Sara is sailing with the crew of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society!

Of her adventure with Captain Paul Watson and his band of anti-whaling pirates, Sara says,

Hello from below the equator, in Puerto Ayora. We’ve been at sea for over a month now. Man, you wouldn’t believe the crew – students, activists, scientists – the dinner conversations alone are mindblowing. And there’s even this marine biologist that reminds me a little bit of you. I wish that we could talk in person but this is the best that I can do. I want to apologize for being out of touch. I’ve been thinking about us a lot, though, all the moments. I thought we could survive anything. This trip has given me a lot of clarity. That last year in Vegas, I could barely breathe, let alone think but now, for the first time in a really long time, I’m happy.

When actress Jorja Fox – the vegetarian and PETA supporter who plays Sara Sidle – left CSI last season, I was afraid it would be the end of CSI’s animal-friendly plotlines. In the past, they’ve dealt with canned hunting involving discarded zoo animals, dog fighting, factory farming and chicken slaughter, and Sara’s vegetarianism, of course. The show has been honored by the HSUS’s Genesis Awards for its compassionate storylines; in a multi-episode plotline, Danny Bonaduce played an aging rock star/animal welfare crusader, who targeted said slaughterhouse in a PETA-like PSA.

Given that Jorja Fox is the high-profile veg*n on CSI’s set, I assumed that she was the driving force behind these stories. I wonder whether she managed to convert any of her co-workers, or if one/some of the writers also just happen to be interested in animal advocacy on their own?

Either way, I think it’s totally awesome that Sara Sidle has defected – from Crime Scene Investigator to international, sea-faring, anti-whaling, activist-pirate-terrorist. Welcome to the dark green side, Sara. Just be careful who you extend your vegan potluck invites to.

Keep up with Sara and the crew through Whale Wars, now airing on Animal Planet (Fridays at 9PM).

Update, 11/22/08: Looks like Daryl Hannah is joining the crew, too!