An action star is only as interesting as the threat he’s up against, and the biggest danger to mankind has long been assumed to be nuclear warfare. (It’s actually climate change, but nobody is funding high-budget action movies about fighting our corporate overlords.) So it makes sense, I guess, that for the second season of Amazon’s Jack Ryan, John Krasinski's character — named Jack Ryan — will have to race against the clock to prevent a nuclear winter.
Except, Jack Ryan has to get creative. The whole “Russia has nukes” scare has been played out too many times. It’s 2019, and most creators know that mindlessly portraying Middle Eastern countries as terrorist dens is pretty racist, and like Russia, it has been done too many times. Plus, that’s what the first season of Jack Ryan centered on. So which nation could possibly be cast as the apocalyptic bad guy this time around?
Well, someone involved in making the show — based on books by the late author Tom Clancy – decided that the villain CIA Operative Jack Ryan would face off against would be…Venezuela!
The premise of the second season of the show, based on the two and a half minute trailer released by Amazon on Thursday, is that Jack Ryan has discovered an illegal shipment of weapons smuggled to Venezuela by Russia. (I guess no American action production can exclude the Russians.) In doing so, he also apparently uncovers a conspiracy that reveals that Venezuela — a country currently experiencing a social, political, and economic collapse — is in possession of nuclear weapons, which they intend to use against the United States.
In the poster for the new season, Kransiski is seen walking away from chaos, the hillside of what every American director assumes all of Latin America looks like in the backdrop. His slacks sit low on his hips, and the collar of his untucked navy blue polo is unbothered by the propellers of the helicopter behind him. This is supposed to signal that he’s our hero.
The second season is based on an idea that is both stupid and harmful. We have the internet now, and access to (redacted) CIA files about the last time we tried to “save” South American countries “from the Russians.” It ended really poorly — war crimes poorly. Much like watching a sniper make his way through Afghanistan and Iraq, it’s not enjoyable to watch fictionalized violence that feels not too far from what’s actually happening.
While it is true that Venezuela famously has little goodwill for the United States, the type of attack their government has launched against the U.S. in the past has typically been in the form of insults against sitting presidents at United Nations conferences. So to imply that a country that currently experiencing food and medical shortages, a mass exodus of its population, political violence, and an economy ranked at the bottom of all of the Americas is ACTUALLY the pulpit for the next wave of Russian backed nuclear warfare is patently absurd. Don’t get me wrong, there are real issues facing Venezuela, and they are far more complex than I could do justice in explaining. But even in the facts relaxed universe of Jack Ryan, it’s implausible that they’d try to wipe the U.S. off the map.
It is also framing the Spanish speaking population as the bad guy at a time when violence against the Latinx community is at a high. President Donald Trump tells the American public daily that immigrants and Latinos specifically are a threat, and even though Venezuelan immigrants face better treatment internationally than some of their peers, it seems unlikely that American racists who watch a show like Jack Ryan won’t have their xenophobic and anti-Latino rhetoric reinforced by such a show.
As millions of people flee their country, displaced for an indeterminable amount of time, Jack Ryan has turned a crisis into mindless content. A real line that John Krasinski spoke during the trailer:
"A nuclear Venezuela...you will not hear about it on the news 'cause we'll already be dead.”