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Taken: a journey into the American psyche

Stephen Spielberg understands better than anyone else where the ‘hot buttons’ of of the American psyche are. The 20-hour mini-series ‘Taken’, sort of a cross between ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’ and ‘Roots’ presses all of the buttons, systematically and repeatedly. The series just finished up on the BBC.

The big buttons that Spielberg’s team at Dreamworks press so methodically are:

– disruption of ordinary daily, humdrum life.

– fear of outside attack by things we don’t understand.

– fear of big institutions, mainly the government. There are good people in the government, but the government often does bad things.

The government and alien invasion are often equated. They both come in the darkness, shining bright lights, and try to take innocent little children away to do nasty things to them.

In fact, the government comes out worse than the alien beings in Spielberg films. The government, particularly the federal government, is depicted as repressive and secretive. The government always seems to be one step behind in its understanding. The aliens, on the other hand, always open our minds and broaden our horizons.

– family roots and continuity. How our parents’ and grandparents’ actions relate to the world of today is important.

– concealment. There are facts about us that have been deliberately hidden from us by our families, our government and the outsiders.

– the wisdom of children. Children often turn out to be wiser than the adults who control their lives.

– the relationship between parents and children. It’s a two-way relationship, and conservative, careful adults gradually give way to their offspring’s wishes, as they realise that their children are as wise, or maybe wiser than themselves.

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