The Paranoid Style in Spooks / MI-5: Re-fashioning the Subject

Ortega Breton, Hugh orcid iconORCID: 0000-0001-6777-6522 (2013) The Paranoid Style in Spooks / MI-5: Re-fashioning the Subject. In: Culture and Power: Identity and identification. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Newcastle. ISBN 978-1-4438-4200-6

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Fear of death or persecution is a powerfully resonant exciting and enduring feature of TV drama and now a politicised emotion. Since the 1990s the fear of danger, persecution and destruction has a greater political and entertainment
currency as a result of living in a more socially atomised world where the consciousness of potential risks has increased exponentially. Risk management including security of various forms has filled the vacuum left by the collapse of
modernist left-right wing politics. The centrality of victim/risk consciousness is borne out in a number of successful commissions which dramatise the ‘war on terror’ and other security concerns into catastrophic and post-apocalyptic
narratives. This chapter presents analyses of one of these dramas, the popular British espionage melodrama Spooks (MI-5 in Europe and USA), using a psycho-cultural approach. In particular I will demonstrate the use of the psychocultural
approach by focusing on two features of Spooks / MI-5 which are characteristics of a paranoid style of representation (Ortega Breton 2010). A psycho-cultural approach analyses culture psychoanalytically whilst grounding that analysis in its historically specific political and cultural context. Before outlining this approach in more detail, I will firstly explain the Anglo-American politico-cultural context shaping mainstream representations of the “war on terror” and other perceived dangers.

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