06 July 2010

Coming in from the cold.

Everyone's acting like this Russian spy story is outdated, so 1970's. Like spying began and ended with the Cold War.

Of course, in today's news cycle, everyone's already forgotten about the Russian spy story. In fact, the news has so skewed towards entertainment, that the predominant reactions to the story has been to focus on the "beauty queen" spy, Anna Chapman, as if it's the first time an attractive individual has been a spy.

Great concern has been voiced over the possible boost this story will give to Angelina Jolie's latest vehicle, Salt.

Other than that, no one seems to care.

Now, it's true that these spies were pretty poor. I'm not even sure you can call them spies, really, at least in the classical sense. This point is being made by the Guardian's Alexander Chancellor:
One reason for this must be the complete futility of the alleged Russian operation. The FBI had not only been watching the suspects closely for up to a decade, but it had found no evidence that any of them had furnished Moscow with even a scrap of useful information during that time.
Perhaps, though, the mission was to discover the allure of suburbia, with its backyard barbecues, its well-manicured lawns, and its quiet desperation behind a privacy fence in a subdivision cul-de-sac.

But the time for the story has come and gone. Sure, it will crop up later, probably in two weeks when Angelina Jolie's movie opens, but it will sink below the surface rather quickly. Anna Chapman may find herself in a few years -- or as soon as her anticipated sentence will allow -- hitting the talk show couch circuit, flogging her story for a book or a movie, because one of the great secrets of American life is that we don't know how to handle anything as a culture anymore except through the tropes provided by the media.

Andy Warhol's laconic statement has proven not only to be true, but also to be descriptive of our attention spans and indicative of the triumph of the culture industry.

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