Since Season 5 of "Archer" ended in April, the name ISIS (used as the name of the fictional intelligence agency that the FX series is centered on) has been made famous by the very real and serious ISIS militant group in Iraq and Syria. Apparently, the folks at FX are not taking the coincidence lightly and it was revealed at New York Comic Con on Friday, Oct. 10, that the show will no longer feature the name in the series when Season 6 premieres, according to The Verge.
The militant group ISIS (which stands for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) has garnered a high level of attention since making military advances into Iraq and Syria in early summer and beheading American journalist James Foley in August. The U.S. began bombing strategic ISIS targets in early August.
The television show “Archer” had used the name ISIS since it premiered on FX in 2009. The name in the series stood for the “International Secret Intelligence Service” and was the employer for most of the show’s main cast. However, in light of the militant group, the network has decided to drop the name from future episodes.
How will “Archer” do away with ISIS? Season 5 of the show ended with the whole cast planning to return to the agency after traveling to Colombia in a drug trafficking-themed season the series called “Archer Vice.” Executive Producer Matt Thompson revealed at Comic Con that the show will make it clear in the Season 6 premiere that the cast now works for the C.I.A. and not their former agency. Jessica Walter’s, who plays Malory Archer, has recorded new lines for the show to make the change clear. The only reference the show will make to the old name in Season 6 is a shot of movers taking away an ISIS sign in the background of one scene. FX has also removed all merchandise bearing the name from its online store (though it is unclear at this point what they will do with excess unsellable wares).
"Archer" is not the only victim of the ISIS name debacle. Back in July, another ISIS, changed its name to avoid confusion with the militant group. That ISIS was a mobile wallet venture between popular wireless service companies AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon. The CEO of the company (now called Softcard), Michael Abbott, addressed the name change saying, "We have no interest in sharing a name with a group whose name has become synonymous with violence."
Not even a local cafe was safe from the ISIS name controversy. According to the Daily Mirror, a cafe in Manchester, England had to change its name after police warned a mix-up could lead to trouble. The cafe finally changed the name after a British aid worker from Manchester was beheaded by the militant group. The cafe had been named after the Egyptian Goddess by the establishment's original owner.
Isis, of course, is one of the most important gods in Ancient Egyptian mythology. The goddess is a a symbol of love, marriage and health and is a mother figure in Egyptian mythology. However, the militant group's existence threatens to derail any other symbolism in the name other than violence. That would continue to create problems for people as, just in America, Isis is ranked as the 575th most popular girl's name in the country, according to the Social Security Administration. One website, Name Statisitics, estimates that 2450 girls are currently named Isis. How will the name be treated if the militant group were to sustain itself as a long term threat? Would women be looking to change their names?
The impact of the ISIS name controversies could be immense. Much has been written about how the swastika was a symbol of luck and prosperity, as well as an ancient Buddhist and Hindu relgious symbol, before the Nazi party in the 1940's irreparably stained the symbol in western culture. When all is said and done, the loss of a fictional cartoon spy agency could be just a footnote in the radical reappropriation of an ancient name.
Do you think the "Archer" name change was necessary? Tweet your thoughts to @Ja9GarofaloTV.