The UN Potrayed in Entertainment (Dr. Who spoiler)

I was watching the new Dr. Who series the other day and the plot involved taking over members of the British government and trying to start a nuclear war on Earth. Once they took control of the government they had to convince the United Nations to give them the codes to the British nuclear arsenal. In at least one movie Jackie Chan plays a secret agent who works for the United Nations and although I’ve seen other movies where the UN seems to have a lot more power then it really does though can’t think of any specific examples at the moment.

Is this something others have noticed? Is it just bad writing or is there just a different way they look at the UN?

PS: I’m not trying to start a debate on the UN.

In some Philip K Dick novels, the UN is either a large global government ruling everyone with varying degrees of an iron fist (secret police or forcing migration to other planets) or a neutral third government of sorts set apart from the US and USSR.

Sorry, I can’t think of cites other than the UN in Clans of the Alphane Moon trying to seize territory from alien civilisations or The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch where the UN makes citizens leave Earth for colonies on other planets.

I’ve always understood that the U.N. in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. was originally meant to stand for United Nations but was changed to United Network because the UN disapproved…

Films and TV shows featuring United Nations agencies were quite common in the mid-Sixties/early Seventies, particularly when there was an element of SF/Fantasy in the premise. It allowed the characters to travel the world and face larger-than-life international evil criminal geniuses/conspiracies/crime organisations, without getting too tied up with real-world politics.

The Doctor Who episode you mention is a case of this: UNIT (United Nations Intelligence Taskforce) made its first appearence in the series in the 60s, and was a fixture of stories right through the early 70s. It made some sense at the time – if the world really was under constant attack by extraterrestials, then you might expect some sort of semi-covert international military force to be set up to combat it. What complicates things somewhat is that those stories were set “sometime in the near future” – when exactly was a little vague and inconsistant, but it meant that they could include details that might (in a light SF setting) plausibly happen in the near future – video phones, super computers, a greater degree of international cooperation on defence matters, etc. And, in one story, the information that the nuclear weapons based in the UK were under the control of the UN.
Now, in 2005, we’re some years beyond the “near future” that story was set in, and in the real world, UK nuclear weapons are not, and never have been (as far as we know) under the control of the UN. But, for whatever reason, Russell T. Davies chose to maintain continuity on that point with the old series.

Large scale, global plots works better if there’s one big, single organisation in charge of the entire world. Real life is much too complex. The UN fills a need.

Naturally in American films it’s the American Government that are the one big, single organisation that’s in charge of the entire world.

Analysis of which is the more accurate probably don’t belong in this forum :).

Because, to do otherwise would cause a whopping big hole in the plot. He is the same man who was in the old series, except that none of the stuff occurred with U.N.I.T. Ludicrous. Same thing as with Batman. In the original stories, he shot people. But the writers decided that was the Batman of an alternate universe. What happened to the early adventures of the real Batman? Oh, all the same adventures, sans guns. :rolleyes:

Interpol is simply a clearing house for information, available for law enforcement officer.

From books and movies however, you would assume that it is a large scale international police force. Same reason. You hear about an international organization, and you (or a writer) attributes lots of power to them.

Not entirely sure I follow you there, Scott. Certainly, UNIT is a major part of the show’s mythology – nor have they been written out: they were there, albeit in a minor role, and acknowledged by the Doctor as people he knew. The UN having control of the world’s nuclear launch codes, on the other hand, was a relatively minor point in a 30-year-old story – remembered by very few and which caused some puzzlement in more people than just MGibson.

So, when you said

you did not meant the existence of Unit, but instead the part about UK Nuclear weapons? Ah. I see.

The United Nations Imperium for Total Emergency (UNITE), formed under the leadership of Brother Christopher to deal with the chaos brought about by the disappearance of millions of religious fanatics. Among the procedures in restoring
order was the requirement of loyalty oaths to Brother C & UNITE by all people,
who were then implanted with computer chips & marked with the sign of loyalty
on their right hand or forehead-



From the four-film late-70s/early-80s “A Thief In the Night” series.

Doesn’t the “Left Behind” series has the Antichrist taking over the UN as part of his scheme to destroy the world, or somesuch? The whole one-world government paranoia nonsense?

Street Fighter: The Movie has the Allied Nations (AN) who send out peacekeeping forces that wear big blue helmets (While the bad guys wear red helmets, making it easier to tell them apart in battles) :smiley:

Also, I seem to recall that in Macross the United Nations is a most-of-the-world government. Some countries, such as Canada, apparantly, are not part of this government. In a prequel series called Macross Zero, there was a war going on between the UN and the other guys (whose name escapes me.)

The most amusing thing about the UN in Macross though has to be the name of their space forces: the UN Spacey. Far as I can tell, it’s suppose to be like “Navy” but with space instead. I can only assume it sounds fundamentally less goofy in Japanese. :slight_smile:

Oh yeah, but I wanted to pay homage to the original.

And some suspicion about the House that Hiss Built may not be totally paranoid nonsense. :smiley:

In Deus Ex, the main character works for an Organization called UNATCO(United Nations Anti-terrorism Coaliation), part of the UN until he realize that:

UNACTO Is actually just part of a Huge Conspiracy to control the world through blackmail and a man-made virus.

Well, one could argue that one of those organizations has much more actual power then the other.