Hollywood Hits

July 31, 1996
THE DAILY FED

Hollywood Hits

The federal government has come to the aid of Hollywood. Not with tax breaks or tariffs, but with a much more important effort. Uncle Sam is filling the villain void.

Suddenly, it's hard to find a movie or TV drama that doesn't feature bureaucrats as the bad guys. "Between Tom Cruise's mole hunt in Mission: Impossible and Arnold Schwarzenegger's battle against a corrupt federal marshal in Eraser," Entertainment Weekly magazine noted in a recent report, "the message seems to be, We have seen the enemy, and he is a civil servant." The Cruise and Schwarzenegger flicks were just the beginning, the magazine noted. In the August thriller Chain Reaction, Keanu Reeves plays a scientist framed for murder who is pursued by agents of a secret federal agency. And three other movies currently in production, The Shadow Conspiracy, Absolute Power, and Executive Privilege, all hinge on White House conspiracies.

Even this summer's blockbuster hit, Independence Day, which centers around the heroics of a Marine aviator and a fighter-piloting President, features a straight-out-of-the-tabloids subplot involving a decades-long conspiracy to cover up government experiments on alien remains in the Nevada desert.

Notice that it's only the federal government that gets picked on. When was the last time you saw a movie that featured a corrupt city manager or public-works official? Indeed, especially on TV, local government employees, especially police officers, are often the heroes-and they are regularly impeded in their efforts by rude, incompetent and downright corrupt federal law-enforcement officers. In the rare instances when the stars are federal civil servants, such as the alien-hunting FBI agents in The X-Files, they invariably are lone-wolf good guys caught in a web of shadowy intrigue within their own agencies.

The recent spate of anti-government movies is a little surprising, since last year it looked like the tide was turning in the other direction. In the wake of the Oklahoma City bombing, it seemed Americans were willing to reconsider the notion that civil servants were at best faceless bureaucrats and at worst sinister conspirators. Hollywood obliged, with Apollo 13, a tale of the derring-do not only of NASA's astronauts, but its pencil-pocket-protectored engineers and technicians. "The real heroes of Apollo 13, wrote Newsweek's Jonathan Alter, "are today's villains, namely, federal bureaucrats. The paper-shuffling government geeks who (we're informed daily from the House floor) couldn't handle a three-car funeral not only put men on the moon, they rescued them against all odds."

As the current crop of Hollywood movies attests, though, the pro-bureaucrat trend was brief indeed.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

    Download
  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

    Download
  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

    Download
  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

    Download
  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.