As I type this, it has been eight days since my wife, Marcy, passed away. I felt the need to medicate myself through the sadness of this weekend by engaging in one of my favorite, recently-adopted pastimes: watching all six “Phase One” movies of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
While watching the final installment, I was struck by a snippet of dialogue that previously had been merely a source of amusement. Now, it holds far greater relevance and poignancy in light of Edward Snowden’s revelations about activity by the National Security Agency as well as the release of the Department of Homeland Security’s Key Word list.
Shortly past the mid-point of “The Avengers,” in the scene where the movie’s heroes are arguing after the discovery of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s weapons development program, Mark Ruffalo’s character, Bruce Banner, utters a line (which I’m mildly paraphrasing) that aptly describes the present state of our government: “Captain America is on a watch list?”
Of course, on the surface it is puerile to point to a superhero movie for drawing parallels with present violations of constitutionally protected rights. While the notion of invoking superhero storylines in discussing such a serious topic as unconstitutional surveillance may seem preposterous, let us not forget there was a time in America when the notion of such rampant surveillance by our government was considered equally as preposterous.
This is where our nation is at in the 21st century. Idealists who believe in the rule of law and justice derived from it are – in ever-growing circumstances – likely to be victims of unlawful collection of personal information. The greater the prominence such an individual may hold in the public eye (or, in the case of Captain America, physical power), the greater the likelihood they’re being centrally scrutinized.
Whatever his purpose may have been when director Joss Whedon penned that portion of dialogue while drafting the movie’s screenplay, he successfully illustrated (accidentally or deliberately) how ridiculous the situation has become in our society.
Today in the United States, whether you’re an impassioned advocate for liberty, an outspoken critic of government activity, or even Captain America, rest assured Big Brother is watching you.