Whenever I teach a digital storytelling/media workshop, or talk with a client about using music, I always warn about the dangers of using well-known music. First, it’s likely illegal. Beyond that, using even a legal piece of well-known music is risky. That song you think matches up so well with your tender love story might just be someone else’s song from hell: maybe it was the song playing when they found their love in the arms of another; perhaps it was the song you were air-guitaring-while-driving when that lamppost jumped out from the curb and totaled your old man’s car.
Music brings it with powerful images and emotions; usually a truckload of baggage. Make sure you’re not under it when it collapses.
Case in Point
Ravel’s Bolero is a well-known ballet turned orchestral standard. Written for the dancer Ida Rubinstein (pictured right), Bolero reached its contemporary pop culture apotheosis in the Blake Edwards film “10” during which Bo Derek consistently plays the piece to seduce the hapless Dudley Moore and plays during the film’s reconciliation scene.
I associate Ravel’s Bolero with, if not softness itself, the soft curvature of a woman.
Imagine my surprise to find it as the website theme American Police Force, a group that claims to sell weapons in Afghanistan, and is a general one-stop shop kidnap and ransom/fugitive recovery/spousal infidelity firm that also does international military and paramilitary operations, cruise ship and shipping security, and trains special forces.
Oh, and this they’re the new residents of the Hardin, Montana jail. That’s right, our own Eastern Montanamo Bay is still trolling for terrorists/felons/ne’er do wells without luck. Until now, when American Police Force came a-courting.
Ravel’s Bolero seems an odd choice for theme music for an organization that promotes itself as comprised of former Blackwater members, unless you perhaps specialize in recovery fugitive corn-rowed Bo Derek look-alike supermodels (welcome to Hardin!).
And theme music isn’t the only weird thing happening with this deal. For all the things this company says they do, they also don’t do about as much; like, reveal anything about themselves or about the detainees they plan to house in the 250-bed Two Rivers Detention Center.
The AP reports that they can’t actually verify the company says it is who it says it is. This from a company promising Hardin $30 million. Now that’s undercover.
But it gets weirder. The firm claims that the federal government is by far their largest client but the “an Associated Press search of two comprehensive federal government contractor databases turned up no record of American Police Force.” Even if they were black ops undercover, top-secret shadow front company running illegal CIA prisons for Dick Cheney, odds are says the AP that at least some piece of paper would show up. I mean come on, they’ve got a pretty extensive website. It’s not like they’re above self-promotion.
So, is this a case of hiding in plain sight? Or is it some kind of con about to get run on some rubes in Eastern Montana? I’m not really sure which of those options I’d prefer. The prospect of a shadowy paramilitary organization whose client is the federal government; one that refuses to disclose any information about itself or the prisoners it will detain in Hardin, runs in the face of every liberty I cherish. And if they’re in town trying to play Hardin for the fool? Well, I’d prefer “none of the above.” I just don’t see a third way.