In a recent blog, The Art of Spying, I discussed the craftiness of being a spy. This is why Hollywood loves spies! A world filled with men and women engaged in stuff involving great risk to themselves, often with life and death on the line. What movie mogul wouldn’t love this!
The plots of these movies or TV shows, are sometimes farfetched but still who does not like a good caper? The canvas espionage provides is broad and deep, allowing the audience a breather from the boredom of the daily grind, to see (in most cases) good triumph over evil. Thrillers fascinate, the best of which we like to debate as evidenced by the 50 Best Spy Movies of All Time compiled by Vulture.com.
Because these people are putting themselves at great risk, we voyeuristically condone behavior we’d condemn in family or friends. Alcohol consumption that would kill a pirate …or a fleet of pirates, Las Vegas whale level gambling or copious copulation, we live vicariously through these characters, certain that we’d never allow ourselves this license. But spies are supremely invested with abilities to not get drunk, even after a night at the bar. They never lose at the tables. And they get people to do anything with just a glance. Also, they can discern evil in other people, or the ability to recognize when they’re being followed or engage in fights worthy of the heavyweight championship of the world. They do things we can’t.
THEY CAN DISCERN EVIL IN OTHER PEOPLE, OR THE ABILITY TO RECOGNIZE WHEN THEY ARE BEING FOLLOWED...
Hollywood spies love gadgets! Cars that go underwater, shoot missiles, with bulletproof glass or tires. And ejection seats … bye-bye bad guy sitting in the passenger seat with a gun trained on you. Push a button, whoosh problem solved. And if you happened to be passing beneath a freeway overpass at the moment of ejection … well even better. Watches that blow stuff up. Pens that can turn into guns, knives, a blow torch or a hairdryer. We love this stuff.
Hollywood spies love their clothing! Men dress in suits or fashion that we can’t afford, look good in or would consider buying in the first place and they’re always time appropriate. Silk morning robe for breakfast on the veranda of their suite at a five-star hotel (of course). Casual wear for midday, before springing into a tuxedo for another evening of baccarat—I can’t even say baccarat, let alone understand how it works. But spies do. Usually making a boatload of money. You know, every once in a while, you wonder to yourself, if these guys are so good at gambling, why aren’t they on the World Series of Poker rather than getting shot at.
Women often appear in the most expensive evening gowns or slinkiest cocktail dresses with fashion accessories that double as missiles or advance communications gear. But just as quickly they can morph into skintight black ninja gear and climb up the sides of buildings or over walls.
New Versions of Old Stuff
Now it’s not just all hijinks and capers in the movies. Many films over the last hundred years have sought to capture the tedious grind of everyday espionage wed to the one percent sheer terror that grips an agent in the face of a blown op. With the explosion of streaming channels such as Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and Disney+, there are newer versions of old tales told from the perspective of countries and peoples not traditionally represented in spy films.
In my next blog, I’ll share some of my favorite spy shows and movies. Meanwhile, if you want a great, page-turning story to read, pick up a copy of my new book Deep Plant.