Rethinking Global Security: Media, Popular Culture, and the "War on Terror"

By Andrew Martin; Patrice Petro | Go to book overview

POPULAR CULTURE AND
NARRATIVES OF INSECURITY

ANDREW MARTIN

Among the many written acknowledgments of the final episode of the longrunning television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I came across the following remarkable statement: “Buffy deals with uncertainty and the grim side of life better in some ways than many experts in national security.”1 Beyond the fact that the statement appeared in the premier newspaper of the nation's capital, the Washington Post, what caught my eye was that its author was Anthony Cordesman, a professional national security expert, media commentator, and chair of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C. The seemingly nonmainstream implication of Cordesman's argument is that a popular TV show based on the horror film and its subgenre of vampirism has much, if not more, to tell us about national security than have those who are actually responsible for planning and implementing security policies: our elected officials, administrative experts, and policy analysts. In the context of pressing national security threats, this somewhat startling pronouncement—based on a mass cultural fantasy involving a young woman with mystical demon-slaying power—might be written off as a slip of the tongue or the momentary lapse of a busy intellectual. But as it turns out, Cordesman had developed an in-depth analysis of Buffy the Vampire Slayer in relation to national security in a lengthy paper that was published online in the days after 9/11.

The immediate fascination is not simply Cordesman's appropriation of a fantasy narrative about a vampire slayer (as Doug Davis explains in his contribution to this collection, the strategic planning conducted today by our national security analysts is always yesterday's fiction). It is rather the way in which such a vampire narrative comes to articulate and then to frame

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