Monday, November 29, 2010

TSA Screening: A Pop Cultural Perspective

Now there has been a lot of discussion as of late about the Transportation Security Administration's (and by extension, the security personnel at airports around the world) use of backscatter security scanners and "enhanced" patdown procedures.

I thought it would be interesting to look at these real world events through the lens of pop culture by asking what if you had seen what is going on today in movies and on television in the past... how would it have been painted?

For instance, if you were watching a movie from the the mid-1990's and these kind of procedures were featured during any part of the movie, you would instantly know you were watching a dystopian science fiction film. Think about it.

I mean, think about even Total Recall and its computerized x-ray machine that only showed a person's bones. That wasn't a very pleasant society, was it?

If you were watching an episode of 24 or a movie and what the TSA is doing today was shown happening at the airport in a foreign country, you might be inclined to believe that you were watching the actions of a repressive regime, and the not so subtle odor of corruption would also likely be involved. If it was from a movie in the late 1980's, they may have made it something that the Warsaw Pact countries were doing, or dictatorship in Africa or South America, and in the 1990's, it would have likely been a Middle Eastern country doing such things.

If you were watching a fictional movie about the American Political system and the events leading up to the deployment of the Backscatter Security System were recounted, by the end of that film, the people who did that would be under indictment or have taken their own life.

And if you were watching a movie or television show where the patdown experience was so extreme that sexual abuse and rape survivors were literally breaking down and crying, or those with physical infirmities were made to perform outrageous acts or humiliated, like being forced to show their hidden prostheses or covered in their own urine just so they could fly, those heaping those indignities would not be sympathetic, would they, even if they were just following orders.

In all the cases I've mentioned, the societies that are doing these things end up on the wrong side of things every time and are evil. If this is the case in fiction, why would it not be so when these very same things are happening in real life.

I know that terrorism is a threat, but no matter what measures someone dreams up, there are those who are determined to destroy, and they will come up with creative ways to do so. Ironically, sometimes they seemingly get their ideas from fiction as well.

So putting a bunch of money in a former political appointees pocket and making everyone else miserable is not the answer. Because this all ends with the flying public having to show up to the airport 3 days early and naked just because someone took an Ellen Degeneres joke and ran with it.


Anonymous said...

"if you were watching a movie or television show where the patdown experience was so extreme that sexual abuse and rape survivors were literally breaking down"

Not sure if you were referencing this, but Dexter recently had a scene along these lines.

I'm avoiding flying until the TSA security measures are reduced. The invasion of privacy and the fact that millions of dollars of stimulus money were spent on a machine instead of on jobs--the whole thing is offensive.

MC said...

There are actual cases of people breaking down because the enhanced patdown is bringing the memories of their abuse back.

But I did think about making the Dexter reference.

Arjan said...

Check this maybe the security should change around.
You could say people from the middle east would be singled out every time..but people are complaining about that now too and reading the linked piece it sounds better than what the western security is going for. I'm waiting for the day where I have to have my footprints taken too