Many are interpreting the message of the new ABC show V as a thinly veiled attack on the Obama administration, intended to reach out to libertarian and conservative Tea Party activists. That’s probably the most obvious interpretation, as the Visitors bring “universal health care” (direct quote) to earth and encourage their human supporters to “spread hope,” all the while hiding a much more sinister agenda.
It would be a mistake to leave V‘s criticism solely at the political level, though. While on the political level the plot certainly appears to be a shot across the bow of the Obama administration, on a cultural level this storyline is also a critique of our gullible culture.
More beneath the fold…
You’ll notice in the pilot episode that V is condemning at least three phenomena that have been impacting our culture in recent years. First, V takes on a mainstream media more consumed by its own ambition — ratings, ratings; sales, sales! — than concerned with asking tough questions and serving as a government watchdog. V also looks at a wishy-washy religious establishment that has forgotten how to be in the world but not of the world. Finally, V takes on a gullible culture that is willing to believe promises of hope and change from any pretty face.
Ambitious TV journalist Chad Decker provides a caricature of our mainstream media. Anna, leader of the Visitors, first notices Decker when he chastises his fellow journalists for being too hard on the newly arrived aliens. She seeks him out to become her go-to guy in the media and to conduct her first television interview. It quickly becomes apparent that Anna only wants Decker because she believes he will portray the Visitors in a positive light. At first, Decker balks at Anna’s insistence that he should essentially act as a vessel for Visitor propaganda; but his drive for journalistic stardom compels him to act as the Visitors’ chief propagandist in the end.
Compare this to an Obama administration that today is locked in a death match with Fox News, which the administration accuses of being nothing more than a mouthpiece for the Republican Party. The White House is keeping its people away from Fox News and is reportedly even chastising Democratic strategists who appear on its shows. This could be an opportunity for the mainstream media to unite and insist that the Obama administration can’t demand favorable coverage for itself. Instead, the rest of the media sit idly by, content to provide Obama with soft coverage and let the White House marginalize Fox News to their benefit. Chad Decker is an accurate and disturbing portrayal of our mainstream media today.
V also offers criticism of a wishy-washy and credulous religious establishment. Father Jack Landry is a Catholic priest skeptical of the Visitors’ intentions and disturbed by the credulity of both the Catholic leadership at the Vatican and one of his colleagues in the priesthood. He sees his religious establishment as far too willing to believe that the Visitors have good intentions, and far too dismissive of the possibility that the secular devotion increasingly offered to the Visitors could lead people to seek their salvation in the newly arrived aliens rather than in God.
There are plenty of examples like this in our own culture, but the most recent was the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) decision to endorse PelosiCare following the passage of the Stupak amendment. For those who aren’t familiar with it, the Stupak amendment prohibited the use of federal funds for abortion in PelosiCare. Aside from the fact that the Stupak amendment may be stripped from the bill before President Obama ever signs it, there were other issues that should have compelled a more skeptical USCCB to oppose PelosiCare. Health care rationing (AKA “death panels”) also conflicts with the culture of life that the Catholic Church has committed itself to building, while the tremendous deficit that PelosiCare will pass on to future generations should have given the bishops a few moral reservations as well.
Is it really so hard to believe that if sinister aliens came to earth tomorrow, our credulous and wishy-washy religious establishment wouldn’t take the bait — hook, line, and sinker?
Finally, V offers an indictment of a culture that has become not only willing but eager to accept promises of hope and change from any pretty face. It is noted that all of the Visitors are physically attractive. They’re young, they’re charismatic. They’ve got the so-called “wow factor.” Troubled teen Tyler Evans becomes enamored with the Visitors primarily because he’s enamored with the blond-haired, blue-eyed Lisa, a recruiter for the Visitors. The message that V is clearly sending is that our materialistic culture is ready to believe anybody with a nice figure or a pretty smile (or, for that matter, killer abs).
Who can really argue that point? In the 2008 Democratic primaries, Barack Obama was pitted against former First Lady and then-U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton. He promised change, but so did she; and she had the experience to make change happen. Yet the far less experienced but far more youthful, attractive, and charismatic Obama was able to convince Democratic voters — especially young adults, just like Tyler Evans — that despite any evidence that he could bring change, he would bring change. He repeated this act in the general election and voila, we’ve got a president who might be nice to look at but who is failing our country in every way.
Sure, on a political level V might be a thinly veiled attack on the Obama administration. But on the broader cultural level, it’s an indictment of a culture of gullibility that our country has embraced. The American people — aided by soft mainstream media and a wishy-washy and credulous religious establishment — hopped on the Obama bandwagon and its promises of hope and change. V is telling us that we need to be more careful. As is the case with reptilian aliens only dressed up in beautiful flesh, we may find that all the promises made to us are only skin deep.
Those who are interested should be sure to catch the pilot episode of V and tune in for the new episode on Tuesday at 8/7c.
Cross-posted to my personal blog: Nate, Uncensored.