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Lyle Zapato

GPM #25: NRO's Earth Encompassing Octopus

Lyle Zapato | 2013-12-10.6010 LMT | Government Propaganda Mascots | Cephalopods | NWO


The Internet is atwitter over the National Reconnaissance Office's logo for their newest spy satellite, NROL-39 (as tweeted by the Office for the Director of National Intelligence).

Given all the coverage in the increasingly paranoid mainstream media, my posting about this feels superfluous at this point, but also expected, since it's both a GPM and ties into my current theme of menacing cephalopods. So for the few of my readers who haven't seen it, there it is.

I originally posted about the NRO's attempts at propaganda mascottery way back in GPM #2 when they had a small menagerie of poorly conceived characters. At some point their kids' site, NROJr.gov, was redesigned and the roster was pared down to just an anthropomorphic satellite named Ollie, who doesn't really appear much except as something to click on in an intro screen before being dumped into a library of dreadfully boring skeuomorphic books built in Flash. The pages turn just like in real life! Kids like that, right?

This new octopus mascot isn't part of the same Clinton-era every-agency-must-have-a-for-kids-site directive, but rather the older tradition of aerospace mission-patch logos. Wikipedia has a list of NRO launches with their patches, some of which reveal too much with obvious New World Order imagery:

Pyramid Eye 'SUPRA SUMMAS'Pyramid Eye 'ANNUIT CŒPTIS'Eagle eye in pyramid

As many have already pointed out, the NROL-39 logo bares an uncanny resemblance to a common propaganda trope used to negatively portray the subject as a creeping threat to life and freedom, personified as a world-gripping octopus (see Vulgar Army for numerous historical examples). Why would a government agency intentionally present themselves as the enemy? Are they just taunting us? Are we so powerless to stop them they can openly announce their villainy? Or is it proof that the Internet is still a threat enough to their power to need manipulating?

Whereas when the trope originated over a century ago the octopus was viewed as a sinister "devil-fish" to be feared and disgusted by, today citizens of the Internet have adopted the octopus as loveable friend whose global embrace would be welcomed -- nay, demanded! Thus the NRO's blatant referencing of this now-neutered trope is a way to subvert it, making the Internet react to the creeping threat to global privacy with a collective "Dawwwww! Octopus can haz world!"

Illustration from the NRO's internal article explaining the origin of the octopus patch.

[UPDATE: 2016-01-19] Runa Sandvik filed a FOIA request for development info on the octopus logo and just posted the NRO's reply at Muckrock.com. They claim (in the parts that aren't redacted) that the idea to use a world-encompassing octopus originated from an inside joke about failed "octopus harness" cabling on the satellite. They defensively, and without prompting, insist there are no "hidden meanings" in the logo and that the tentacles are placed randomly (so obviously we can assume there are hidden meanings to the tentacle placement.) Of particular interest, a penciled-in note of "A little sinister!!" on the approval form reveals their true intent to subvert the sinister octopus trope.

End of post.