Lately, I’ve been catching up on past episodes of the FX series, Archer. For those of you who don’t know it, its an animated series centered around the agents and a few other lackeys of a private spy agency. The show’s full of obnoxious and crude humor that’s not for everyone, but I enjoy its absurdity. In particular the namesake of the show, Sterling Archer.
Anyway, the name of the agency in the show is the same as a nefarioius terrorist state that’s been causing havoc in the world as of late. To be fair, Archer came out long before the terrorists appeared on the world stage. This left the creators and the network with a problem, do they change the name of the fictional agency, and how?
In the end the creators dropped the name of the fictional agency but chose not to address it in their show. The only sign of change is a rather brief scene with maintaince workers removing the old sign and a brief subplot of a change over in owner of the agency so that its now part of the CIA. There was some feedback from fans saying that they shouldn’t change the name of the agency or even address the terrorists directly through the show a la more topical shows like The Simpsons or South Park. However the creators chose not to do so because Archer has never done topical humor and it exist soley in its own world. It would be completely out of character if the show did address the actual situation. Although the name of the agency is changed in the newer seasons, they chose not to go back and change it or remove it from their archived seasons.
Personally, I agree with the choice that they made and how the handled it. I think any other way would’ve drawn attention to the terrorist state as well as ruin the immersion and suspension of disbelief that I have while watching it. I don’t watch the show to be reminded of today’s issues around the world. I watch it to laugh my ass off.
The whole thing got me to thinking, what would I do if somehow something I created had a name similar or the same as a terrorist state, or something else nefarious. I ‘m not a fan of censorship or bowing down to political correctness, in particular when it come to Art. But I believe that I would change it for similar reasons as the creators of Archer did. Plus, I would not want to be associated, even if unintentionally with a group like that.