|Minions and Whistle-Blowers
By Jay Bingham
One thing I've started wondering about lately when I watch movies: Where do evil master-mind types go to get their minions? I mean, it's not like you can really go down to Minions-R-Us and hire a couple dozen nuclear scientists.
You know what I mean?
Like, you watch a James Bond movie, and in the background... Well, first, in the foreground, James is talking with the evil genius who has some diabolic plan to take over/destroy the world. As they talk, James, of course, is working on some plan of his own to thwart the evil genius' plan. In the background, there are all these people working on the evil genius' invention. Now, coming from a technical background, I tend to watch those people a little more closely than some, and I start wondering what they're doing. I know they're just acting, but, okay, they're acting like they're doing the sort of thing that I might do if I were hired by an evil genius with some diabolic plot.
So, there they are, pushing buttons, making measurements, recording observations. All that scientific stuff. What are they thinking? Are they happy with their jobs? Do they get paid well? Do they have ethical questions about the legitimacy of their work? Do they go home at night and plop down on the sofa, telling their wives what a tough day it was working on the polar ice-cap melting project? Or are they sworn to secrecy? And, if they're sworn to secrecy... What happens if one of them gets fed up and decides to become a whistle-blower? Does the media take him (or her) seriously?
(i)TV Reporter to unidentified telephone caller: "You say he's invented a death ray that can shoot the wings off a gnat at 500,00 feet and he's got it aimed at the White House? Yeah, right. Lucky for us you're having such a hard time with the servo mechanism, isn't it?"
And then the police/FBI/Secret Service agents pull up and arrest him for suspected terrorism threats.
If you're an evil genius? What's the rate of pay for your technology professionals? Do you have to figure on paying them more? After all, they are compromising their professional careers by working for you. It just doesn't look good on your resume at your next job interview when you have to explain why you were terminated from the Moon-Based Sonic Wave Traffic Disruptor project after a British secret agent with a fancy ball-point pen that demagnetized the hard drive on the main control unit started a catastrophic fire that claimed the lives of several of your co-workers and put your former employer in a highly publicized criminal court case. With a background like that, are you really the kind of person that a legitimate technology firm wants to hire?
Or do you pay them less? Perhaps they've already compromised their careers in some fashion, and you're offering them an opportunity that they just can't find anywhere else. And, if that's the case... Where do you go about finding those kinds of people? Prisons and jails don't seem like a particularly good source. As I like to point out, there is no IQ test for crooks.
And what about your thugs and strong men? Okay, that might be a little easier to find. They don't have to be particularly intelligent. Just strong and incredibly loyal. Oh, and if they look good on camera, that helps, too. I don't know. Could you just go down to Gold's Gym and pick out a couple of body-builders and say, "Hey, I've got a job offer for you." Seems like you'd want your thugs and assassins to have a lot of other qualities besides physical appearance. You know, like being able to shoot straight and keep their mouths shut about the secret nuclear reactor in your basement.
Interviewer to job applicant: "So... you've had your derby lined with a sharp metal edge so that when you throw it, it turns into a lethal weapon. Excellent. That's just the kind of initiative we like to encourage here at Diabolic Enterprises."
Do you suppose a hat like that is pretty uncomfortable to wear?
Okay, so, somehow, you hire these guys and things are going really well until the secret agent shows up. Of course, at this point, your guards, who have thus far performed admirably, suddenly develop an inability to protect your assets from this agent's uninvited investigation. They let him into restricted areas. They get neglectful, or sloppy in their work, and let him sneak past them. How many secret agents have been stymied in their quest to stop an evil genius and to have their story become a blockbuster movie just because one guard paid attention to the security screens he was asked to monitor? I think you'd always be stressing that to your security staff, the importance of constant vigilance.
Evil Genius to Security Staff: "Gentlemen, we are engaged in an illegal enterprise. There are people out there, good people, who would stop at nothing to see us fail. It is your duty to stop such people before they cause irreparable harm to this facility. We have provided you with the best security technology available. But the best technology is worthless if it isn't used. Stay alert. Be ready for anything."
Next thing you know, security has slipped, and there's a fire in the cryonics bay due to a malfunction in the temperature control feedback system. The fire department is slow to respond, since this is the first they've heard of your sulfuric acid reclamation vats, and they want to make sure their own people are safe before they send them inside. Meanwhile, the fire grows bigger and chaos ensues. Your scientists are grabbing for their lab notebooks and trying to download files before the mainframe goes down. Your security staff is trying to capture the secret agent, but I guess you should have worried more about their ability to shoot straight, because they can't seem to do it under pressure. And you're there, looking out at all the confusion, wondering why you ever started Diabolic Enterprises in the first place and why you didn't just invest in something legal, like the production of a good action/thriller spy movie, instead.