Continuum: Right-Wing Propaganda Despite Claims Of Moral Complexity

line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-bidi-font-family:"Palatino Linotype"”>At first glance, this series is a mix of a standard science fiction trope with a police procedural.  Criminals from the future are pursued by a cop from the future – accidentally brought along during their escape. This is an old combination.

line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-bidi-font-family:"Palatino Linotype"”>The writers argue that this conflict is a way of adding moral complexity to the series.  As they say on the series website, on the page that describes the criminal group “Liber8”: “For many, it will be hard not to agree with their philosophy — but for most, it will be impossible to agree with their methods.”  But Continuum is no exception to the rule that television fiction is normally an emotional experience before it is an intellectual one; all the emotional weight is tilted towards the dictatorship and against those opposing it.

  The shot of the explosion they create includes bringing down twin towers.  Later in the series you see that one of the things they were doing before they killed 20,000 people was randomly blowing up power stations and causing extended power blackouts. “If there's a message there, I'm not seeing it” says 2077 Kiera.

  is brutally attacked by corporate police who endanger a baby in a poor homage to Eisenstein. But at the beginning of that scene we are shown glassy eyed participants getting lost in a chant led by Kagame.  The brutal police are busting up a cult. In the same episode, we see Kagame in our time get away from Kiera because his followers grab a random baby and use that baby as a hostage to keep Kiera from following them.  We constantly see Liber8 as casual killers, indifferent to how many innocents they need to kill to achieve their goals.

  One episode opens with Kiera staring in disbelief at an Occupy encampment. She wonders why they have not been cleared away. Her 2012 partner, Carlos, explains to her that they are on public land and it would require getting the mayor involved..  Besides these protestors are harmless; they will probably go home eventually and “hold hands and sing Kumbaya”. Showing force before you have to will only inflame the crowd and escalate. “Things always escalate” says Kiera, darkly. Apparently the Canadian makers of the series never noticed violent police actions throughout the United States against peaceful Occupy protests. 

  Yup, that is what Occupy was about all right – a single rage driven ideology.  However it does turn out that the peaceful protestors have to be stirred into action.  No problem: Liber8 hires anarchists to stir up the crowd. After all anarchists are all violent criminal thugs who will do anything for money, and the Occupy crowd is so weak-willed that it only takes a few troublemakers to stir up a riot among them.  The riot is used as a cover for Liber8 to kidnap a corporate executive. (They kill security guards during the kidnapping, just to highlight their casual brutality.)

  And when the protestors hear that the money is to be given to them they are on the verge of riot again, demanding that money until it is tossed to them – which they grab for like animals being fed in a zoo.  And then they chant “Liber8, Liber8” because apparently kidnappers are always popular among peaceful protestors as long as the protestors get the ransom.

  The policewoman who represents the totalitarian corporate dictatorship is strong, loving, caring, calm and compassionate. She offers security, stability, safety and protection against the danger and brutal, bloody, chaotic insanity of those who aspire to democracy, equality and freedom. That right-wing authoritarian message is what the program conveys. 


The idea that torture and casual violence by authorities is necessary to protect us has long been part of popular culture. Well before 911, it was embedded in the meme of the rule-breaking maverick cop, and the peaceful patient guy who turns brutal vigilante after being pressed too far.  Every cop show that includes scenes where it is just too much to expect for cops to stick to the rule book ends up selling the idea that it is OK to beat confessions out of people sometimes. In that context, the defense of torture in films like Zero Dark Thirty can be seen as  Dirty Harry or 24 written on a bigger, slicker canvas.

 But Continuum  That combination takes this meme to the next level, and draws out its full logical implication.  The choices the future offers in this show are corporate dictatorship or being tormented by daily violent criminality. Democracy is a failed dream terrorists use as shield from which to kill. The imperfect security of corrupt totalitarian corporate rule is the lesser evil, the only chance of a mote of security and safety against the violence and chaos that lurks behind all talk of freedom, equality, solidarity and democracy.

1 comment

  1. Leon Rosen March 25, 2014 10:57 am 

    Hey Gar,

    I like this article, and I’ve been looking for a good piece which succinctly sums up whats so wrong with Continuum’s politics. I really would dig it if you would review this page, there are html errors and half a sentence missing at the start of the third paragraph. I’m not giving you a hard time: its because I like the article that I would encourage you to fix it, because I want to forward it to my groups, but I can’t really do that as it is right now.

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