News / Arts & Entertainment

    In Valerie Plame's 'Blowback,' Reality Grittier than Fiction

    Real Life Grittier than Fiction in Valerie Plame's 'Blowback'i
    X
    October 10, 2013 11:14 PM
    The 2010 drama "Fair Game," starring Naomi Watts and Sean Penn, catapulted the 2003 leak of CIA operative Valerie Plame onto the silver screen. VOA's Penelope Polou has more in this report.
    Penelope Poulou
    The 2010 drama "Fair Game," starring Naomi Watts and Sean Penn, catapulted the 2003 leak of CIA operative Valerie Plame onto the silver screen.
     
    Plame's life took an unexpected turn after having her cover blown by Bush administration officials, shortly after her husband, former U.S. diplomat Joe Wilson, refuted government claims that Iraq's Saddam Hussein was trying to buy enriched uranium from Niger.
     
    Ten years after the scandal, Plame has returned to the world of espionage — this time as a novelist.
     
    In a pop-cultural medium where female agents are often stereotyped as femme fatales, Plame says Vanessa Pierson, the main character of her new novel, "Blowback," is a woman trying to balance personal life with career, very much like herself.
     
    “They are either over sexualized, or [there is] heavy reliance on physicality, or they are victims," says Plame. "Or basically I think of them as paper dolls.”
     
    Plame cites Angelina Jolie's role in "Salt" as an example.
     
    “Angelina Jolie looks so beautiful that she looks fabulous doing anything," she says. "But I cannot say that it has anything whatsoever to do with reality.”
     
    More recently, however, female spy characters have broken that mold and captivated audiences with the likes of CIA operative Maya, played by Jessica Chastain, as she hunts down Osama bin Laden in Kathryn Bigelow's "Zero Dark Thirty."
     
    "I'm all for courageous and strong women that persevere against great odds, but it really was a team effort of dozens of CIA officers over an extended period of time that led to finding Osama bin Laden," says Plame.
     
    But products of popular culture, she adds, have sometimes successfully portrayed real life aspects of modern espionage.
     
    "The government has been in bed with the entire telecommunications industry since the 1940s," she says. "They have infected everything. They get into your bank statements, computer files, email, listen to your phone calls."
     
    The 15-year-old drama "Enemy of the State," in which the protagonist, played by Will Smith, has his life upended by sophisticated government surveillance techniques and whistleblowing is a good example, and, Plame says, eerily close to recent revelations of the NSA's electronic surveillance.
     
    “There is a dynamic and a balance, of course, between security on one hand and privacy on the other," she says. "But I worry about what an overzealous prosecutor or... heaven forbid, if there is a part of the government that moved toward tyranny. [It would be] very dangerous because information is power and we now know how deep and how pervasive — I mean, this is no surprise — the NSA has gone in order to keep us safe.”
     
    Blowback is Plame's first in a series of novels throwing light on the shadowy life of a female spy.

    You May Like

    Video Pop Icon Prince Quietly Helped Afghan Orphans for Years

    He sent thousands of dollars to help an aid group rebuild a training center for orphan boy and girl scouts in Kabul, but kept his involvement secret

    Mali, a Way Station for Syrians Headed to Europe

    Another door may be closing for Syrians fleeing the conflict in their country, this time in Africa

    Britain’s Muslims See London Mayor Race as Victory

    Mere running of 45-year-old former government minister and son of Pakistani immigrants Sadiq Khan seen by many as turning point

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Donations Rescue Afghan Parents, Children From Forced Labori
    X
    May 05, 2016 6:44 PM
    A Facebook campaign organized by a VOA radio host raised 150,000 Afghan rupees to rescue a family from forced labor at a brick kiln in Nangarhar province – the result of the father’s unpaid debt. Video by a VOA reporter in Jalalabad went viral this week and triggered the Facebook campaign.
    Video

    Video Donations Rescue Afghan Parents, Children From Forced Labor

    A Facebook campaign organized by a VOA radio host raised 150,000 Afghan rupees to rescue a family from forced labor at a brick kiln in Nangarhar province – the result of the father’s unpaid debt. Video by a VOA reporter in Jalalabad went viral this week and triggered the Facebook campaign.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Troops Recount Firefight Which Killed US Navy SEAL

    A U.S. Navy SEAL killed Tuesday, when Islamic State fighters punched through Kurdish lines in northern Iraq, was part of a quick reaction force sent to extract other U.S. troops trapped by the surprise offensive. VOA's Kawa Omar spoke with Kurdish troops in the town of Telskuf -- the scene of what U.S. officials called a "dynamic firefight."
    Video

    Video British Lawmakers Warn EU Exit Talks Could Last A Decade

    Leaving the European Union would mean difficult negotiations that could take years to complete, according to a bipartisan group of British lawmakers. While the group did not recommend a vote either way, the lawmakers noted trade deals between the EU and non-EU states take between four and nine years on average. Henry Ridgwell reports on the mounting debate over whether Britain should stay or exit the EU as the June vote approaches.
    Video

    Video NASA Astronauts Train for Commercial Space Flights

    Since the last Shuttle flight in 2011, the United States has been relying on Russian rockets to launch fresh crews to the International Space Station. But that may change in the next few years. NASA and several private space companies are developing advanced capsules capable of taking humans into low orbit and beyond. As VOA's George Putic reports, astronauts are already training for commercial spacecraft in flight simulators.
    Video

    Video US Worried Political Chaos in Iraq Will Hurt IS Fight

    The White House is expressing concern about rising political chaos in Iraq and the impact it could have on the fight against the Islamic State. The U.S. says Iraq needs a stable, central government to help push back the group. But some say Baghdad may not have a unified government any time soon. VOA's White House correspondent Mary Alice Salinas reports.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora

    New in Music Alley

    Border Crossings: Bannersi
    || 0:00:00
    ...  
     
    X
    May 04, 2016 1:07 PM
    Singer and Songwriter, Michael Nelson better known as "Banners" sits down with Border Crossings host Larry London in Studio 4 to talk and perform songs from his debut self titled EP.

    Singer and Songwriter, Michael Nelson better known as "Banners" sits down with Border Crossings host Larry London in Studio 4 to talk and perform songs from his debut self titled EP.