Is political-incorrectness ready to meet sci-fi? Yes, If ABC’s (US) series première is anything to go by. “V” is for “O.”
Really. “Where were you when JFK was assassinated? Where were you on 9/11? Where were you this morning?” All across the world, humongous spaceships are hovering above the world’s major cities (29 in all). The earth quakes. Jets fall from the sky. People panic. But then a peace (that surpasses all understanding) spreads across a sea of pedestrians, when the spaceships’ bases turn into giant TV-screens. A visitor called Anna (Morena Baccarin) introduces herself to the metropolitans. She is a role model with a message to unify, to heal, to show us light.
“We mean no harm," she assures us. Leader Anna comes from a planet of peace. Her sales pitch? Altogether now: “We are of peace – always.”
“V” is for visitor. But it is also stands for venomous. Anna speaks on behalf of the pretend peacemakers, and claims to come from a place where there are no conservative national borders. She asks the world for help, and generously offers to share her advanced technology with mankind, in return for some specific resources. While “V” is based on a 1983 miniseries, it is naturally a technologically superior sci-fi with some revamped warnings.
Not surprisingly, the human-looking Visitors are offering mankind “free” universal healthcare, and setting up healing centers across the states. Miracles are reported too. “Embracing change is never easy,” Anna assures us. The young flock to the messianic overseer. Her youthful looks and technological know-how are certainly attractive assets in today’s fast-moving political culture. Needy citizens are so caught up in Anna’s “peace” that they don’t see the reptilian flesh under her skin.
In New York, where most of the action takes place, the Visitors establish “Peace Ambassador” chapters to spread the faith. Joy sweeps across the city. It all seems so modern. So now. The “yoof” don’t make “O” signs. Instead, they make “V” signs. But you get the picture. (Hero worship is a mental illness.) It is according to The Chicago Tribune, “the most fascinating and bound to be the most controversial new show of the fall television season,” in the age of Obama worship.
Of course, what happens to a person when he (or she) bows to a peaceful-looking authority force figure has been a concern of theologians for generations. And cult experts. The late Margaret Singer, a clinical psychologist wrote:
The notion that we could psychologize life in America was widespread in the 1970s. The psychologizing of our society was based on the hope that each of us would become sensitive to cultural, racial and ethnic differences and help to create a more integrated, genuine melting-pot society.
It was a natural progression for cultic groups and others using thought-reform techniques to add the psychological techniques from the sensitivity, encounter, and group therapy movements into the behavioral change programs used for new members.
In “V” an Obama-like mania sweeps the world too because of ego-driven campaigning TV journalists, like Chad Decker (Scott Wolf), who agrees to shower Anna with positive questions.
“V” also shows us how leaders groom needy citizens, and how true believers infiltrate big business, big media, big university, and big religion, in order to spread their vague definitions of “change” and “hope.”
And if your loved one is caught up in a hero-worship system?
One of the key characters, FBI counterterrorism agent Erica Evans (Elizabeth Mitchell) raises doubts about the Visitors. Her husband abandoned her and now she’s dealing with the prospect of losing her teenage son Tyler (Logan Huffman), to the cult of personality. “They’re arming themselves with the most powerful weapon out there,” concludes the sharp counterterrorism expert, and it’s called “devotion.”
Outside the FBI, Catholic priests are divided on the subject too. After a dying man hands Father Jack Landry (Joel Gretsch) some important documents, he knows for sure that the said aliens are trouble, shaping the minds of his vulnerable parishioners.
The cult of the consensus-first believer is powerful indeed, and a perfect excuse to sacrifice your critical-thinking skills. Heavy group attendance. Faith attached to a leader. Immersion in a peaceful-looking system with media support. The ecstasy you feel when you know you can make a difference through blind obedience. It reminds one of Saint John’s anti-totalitarian visions on the island of Patmos, or Jeremiah’s words against double-speak: ‘Peace, peace,’ they say, when there is no peace.
ABC’s producers though are distancing themselves from the obvious “O” and “V” comparisons, in what looks like a strategic move for now. After all, the Obama administration’s unprecedented attacks on FOX News, for not worshiping at their leader’s footstool are red warning signs. In today’s political climate, leaders don’t like negative questions, because to judge correctly is to think incorrectly.