Moral Dilemmas as Propaganda

Eye In The Sky is meant to convey the agony of deciding whether or not to kill terrorists with drones even if there is “collateral damage.” It features a star-studded cast including Helen Mirren, Alan Rickman in one of his last roles, Aaron Paul and Phoebe Fox. It is also a cunning piece of propaganda.

Spoiler Alert! Don’t read any further if you haven’t seen the movie and plan on doing so.

The plot is rather basic. The bad guys (numbers 4, 3 and 2 respectively on the British most-wanted-list in East Africa) are schedule to meet in a house in Nairobi. A Kenyan anti-terror squad is standing by to arrest them. An American Reaper drone hovers above, the eye in the sky. There is, of course, confusion. Some suspects arrive as scheduled, but others were already in the house. They leave again for a different house in a Nairobi slum which, oddly, is controlled by al Shabaab, the Somali jihadist group. The Kenyan anti-terror unit has some amazing tech—miniature drones the size of a bird and a beetle—which broadcast HD quality live stream from inside the house around the globe. Two of the men inside are being outfitted with explosive vests, suicide bombers about to embark on a mission to kill innocent civilians. The capture mission becomes a kill mission. All this happens in the first third of the film. The rest is a rehashing of the Philosophy 101 utilitarian dilemma. Is it okay to kill one sweet, innocent girl in order to save hundreds of victims who’d be blown up by the suicide bombers?

Read more

Share: Email this to someoneTweet about this on TwitterShare on TumblrShare on FacebookPrint this page

Literary Ashland – Conversation

This month’s edition of Literary Ashland turned out different than intended. Our planned guest couldn’t make and so Ed and I ended up having a fun conversation about writing, linguistics, melodrama, clues and everything in between. So enjoy this unscheduled and unrehearsed show. As Ed pointed out, the show is a clear sign that both of us had experience walking into a classroom unprepared.

Share: Email this to someoneTweet about this on TwitterShare on TumblrShare on FacebookPrint this page

Blog Tour: One Dead, Two To Go by Elena Hartwell

Book CoverWhat’s It About?

Private Investigator Edwina “Eddie Shoes” Schultz’s most recent job has her parked outside a seedy Bellingham hotel, photographing her quarry as he kisses his mistress goodbye. This is the last anyone will see of the woman. Her body is later found dumped in an abandoned building. Eddie’s client, Kendra Hallings, disappears soon after. Is Kendra in trouble too? Or is she the killer?

Eddie usually balks at cases requiring a gun, but she also hates to be stiffed for her fee. Before she knows it, she is knee-deep in dangerous company. It doesn’t help that her card-counting adrenaline-junkie of a mother has shown up on her doorstep fresh from being kicked out of Vegas. Chava is only sixteen years older than Eddie and sadly lacking in parenting skills. Her unique areas of expertise, however, prove to be helpful in ways Eddie can’t ignore. So Chava from tags along. Add the new homicide Detective Chance Parker, who happens to be Eddie’s ex, and Eddie’s got a case more frustrating and perilous with each tick of the clock.

Read more

Share: Email this to someoneTweet about this on TwitterShare on TumblrShare on FacebookPrint this page

The Thriller as Melodrama

The Cast of Dudley Do-Right. (Wikipedia – Fair Use)

Why do people read detective stories? Edmund Wilson posed this question in a 1944 New Yorker essay. He went on to say that since Sherlock Holmes there hadn’t really been anything worthwhile published in that genre. He had nothing nice to say about Agatha Christie and his comment on Dashiell Hammett was this: “‘The Maltese Falcon’ … seems not much above those newspaper picture strips in which you follow from day to day the ups and downs of a strong-jawed hero and a hardboiled but beautiful adventuress.”

Wilson dismisses contemporary detective fiction as being a reaction to guilt and fear of the years between WWI and WWII. “Nobody seems guiltless, nobody seems safe; and then, suddenly, the murderer is spotted, and—relief!—he is not, after all, a person like you or me. He is a villain—known to the trade as George Gruesome—and he has been caught by an infallible Power, the supercilious and omniscient detective, who knows exactly how to fix the guilt.” Of course, detective fiction and mystery fiction in general has thrived since Wilson dismissed it as not worthy his time. Today, there are more sub-genres than ever.

Read more

Share: Email this to someoneTweet about this on TwitterShare on TumblrShare on FacebookPrint this page