Event Title

Singing Truth to Power: Folk Music and Political Resistance in "Patriot"

Author/ Authors/ Presenter/ Presenters/ Panelists:

Lynn D. Zimmemran PhD, Governors State UniversityFollow

Location

D1497

Start Date

4-12-2019 3:15 PM

End Date

4-12-2019 3:45 PM

Abstract

Singing Truth to Power: Folk Music and Political Resistance in Patriot

Steven Conrad’s comedy-drama Patriot premiered November 5, 2015 on Amazon Video to decidedly positive reviews. The series concerns John Tavener, an undercover CIA officer, tasked to impersonate an engineer, deliver bribe money, and thereby influence an Iranian election for American interests. Things however do not go as planned. One of the show’s quirks lies in the fact that Agent Tavener is also a folk guitarist and singer who employs music to counteract the stressors of his secret life. By all accounts, he’s a talented musician but his performances function in multiple ways; they are public, extemporaneous, therapeutic and confessional, all to the chagrin of his government handlers. The show’s black humor and complex plot make it rife for critical analysis. The series has been identified as an existential comedy by some and an allegory of failing American capitalism by many. Others have pegged Conrad’s tale as a nihilist commentary on the futility of human endeavor itself. All are worthy assessments but to this list, I’m proposing another reading. One of the prevailing tropes of season one involves the engineering concept of “the structural dynamics of flow,” a reference to a construct’s ability to effectively move “entities from point A to point B” the very enterprise that confounds John’s bribery attempts. In this scientific / political context, folk music serves as resistance to the vagaries of spy craft and, by extension, the moral prevarication of American foreign policy.

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Apr 12th, 3:15 PM Apr 12th, 3:45 PM

Singing Truth to Power: Folk Music and Political Resistance in "Patriot"

D1497

Singing Truth to Power: Folk Music and Political Resistance in Patriot

Steven Conrad’s comedy-drama Patriot premiered November 5, 2015 on Amazon Video to decidedly positive reviews. The series concerns John Tavener, an undercover CIA officer, tasked to impersonate an engineer, deliver bribe money, and thereby influence an Iranian election for American interests. Things however do not go as planned. One of the show’s quirks lies in the fact that Agent Tavener is also a folk guitarist and singer who employs music to counteract the stressors of his secret life. By all accounts, he’s a talented musician but his performances function in multiple ways; they are public, extemporaneous, therapeutic and confessional, all to the chagrin of his government handlers. The show’s black humor and complex plot make it rife for critical analysis. The series has been identified as an existential comedy by some and an allegory of failing American capitalism by many. Others have pegged Conrad’s tale as a nihilist commentary on the futility of human endeavor itself. All are worthy assessments but to this list, I’m proposing another reading. One of the prevailing tropes of season one involves the engineering concept of “the structural dynamics of flow,” a reference to a construct’s ability to effectively move “entities from point A to point B” the very enterprise that confounds John’s bribery attempts. In this scientific / political context, folk music serves as resistance to the vagaries of spy craft and, by extension, the moral prevarication of American foreign policy.