Government warehouse (fiction)

The Government Warehouse is a plot device used in movies, television series, and novels, a scenario used in role-playing games, and a belief of some conspiracy theorists. The concept is that there is a secret government warehouse where various items are stored of whose existence the government wants the general populace to remain ignorant. It is also used as a storage area for objects to be used in future use (e.g. super-weapons) either to win a political arms race or world domination, depending on storyline.

Plot device in fiction

In fiction, the Government Warehouse is a plot device used for conveniently disposing of story elements that have fulfilled their purpose in a story, but that would cause consistency or continuity problems for subsequent (or previous) stories in the same fictional setting were they to remain. In many cases, the story items disposed of are of such a nature that they would make it difficult to set up the necessary tensions and conflicts for other stories in the same fictional setting, as they would make such tensions and conflicts simple to resolve.

A secondary purpose of the Government Warehouse plot device is to satirize the ineptitude of governments, the premise being that if a government found itself in possession of an extraordinary object or person, it would simply catalogue it and lose it in a vast filing system. For example, in the film "Forever Young", Mel Gibson played an experimental suspended animation subject, who was frozen in a capsule, which was forgotten about and stored in a Government Warehouse until two children stumbled upon it while playing.

Perhaps the most well-known instances of the Government Warehouse plot device are found in the "Indiana Jones" movies and the television series "The X-Files". At the end of "Raiders of the Lost Ark", the Ark of the Covenant is hidden away in a warehouse, explaining its disappearance. (The shot of the warehouse is an allusion to the final scene of "Citizen Kane", where there is a similar shot of a private warehouse.) The warehouse (shown located in Hangar 51) reappears in "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull", where it is the setting of a fight between Jones and agents of the Soviet Union.

In the closing of an episode of NBC's "The Office" titled "Conflict Resolution", a similar scene is created using a box full of complaints made by Dwight Schrute, and other characters. The television series "The X-Files" is replete with characters and objects with unusual properties and powers that would complicate the fictional setting, or make it too simple for characters to achieve the goals that they quest for, and the Government Warehouse plot device is heavily used to explain the absence of the characters and objects, and to make the goals difficult to achieve. The plot device is in fact a central element of the series. A typical example is found in the pilot episode.

In the television show Stargate SG-1 Area 51 serves as a government wharehouse for storage of alien artifacts.

Sometimes items are recovered from Government Warehouses in order to construct derived fictional settings. In the first episode of the late-80s "War of the Worlds" television series a triad of war machines is collected from a Government Warehouse (Hangar 15) where they had been stored since an invasion in 1953, thus linking the television series to the 1953 film "The War of the Worlds".

In the 2006 film "Click", the warehouse serves a similar purpose; however, it is not owned by a government but by Bed Bath & Beyond.

An upcoming television series on the Sci-Fi Channel, "Warehouse 13", features the adventures of two United States Secret Service agents assigned to oversee such a government warehouse facility.

Real-world government warehouses

The government warehouses of fiction and conspiracy theories have a number of analogues in the real world, although some are not run by official national governments. Historically, the template is the Great Library of Alexandria, which held an extensive collection of written works but was repeatedly destroyed during the first millennium AD. The Vatican Secret Archives [ [http://asv.vatican.va/home_en.htm Vatican ] at asv.vatican.va] are alleged to hold the secrets of the Knights Templar (a similar allegation is levelled at the Louvre in Paris). Many prominent museums have extensive archives which often lay undisturbed for decades, such as the Cairo Museum in Egypt, which was found in 2002 to have 80,000 items - more than half the museum's collection - stored away in its vaults. [ [http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2002/12/1213_021213_cairomuseum.html Cairo Museum Unveils "Lost" Egyptian Treasures ] at news.nationalgeographic.com]

In the United States, the National Archives and Records Administration and the Library of Congress both have numerous government warehouses to store historic items and documents.

RPG scenarios

The concept of a Government Warehouse has been used as a fun scenario for role-playing games:

* The MMORPG "City of Heroes" parodies this plot device by having the MAGI Vault be where dangerous magical artifacts are stored safely under the care of Azuria. However, these items tend to get stolen from the vault very quickly, often right after the player gives the item to Azuria for safekeeping.
* cite web|accessdate=September 11|accessyear=2007
url=http://www.io.com/~jlockett/RPG/HEGGA/Stuff/warehouse.html
title=Government Warehouse list version 1.2.1
work=
— an attempt to construct an RPG scenario of a Government Warehouse containing every famous item ever mentioned in fiction or a conspiracy theory as being lost or suppressed
* cite web|accessdate=September 11|accessyear=2007
url=http://www.deathworld.org/spy.html
title=Government Warehouse list version 1.3.2
work=
— Notice that in this later version the introduction has been removed and replaced by seals denoting United States government agencies and a purported security classification notice, giving a greater impression of realism.
* cite web|accessdate=September 11|accessyear=2007
url=http://www.bahneman.com/liem/x-files/warehouse.html
title=Wherehouse
work=
— an even more detailed attempt to do the same thing, that even includes a classification system for the objects, and includes objects that logically could not possibly be contained in such a warehouse (The planet Earth was demolished in the plot(s) of the "Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy", therefore the spaceship Heart of Gold could not be stored in a Government Warehouse on Earth.)
* — an entire book based on the strange and mysterious things that might be in such a warehouse, run by Secret Masters. Steve Jackson Games also calls its online store "Warehouse 23".

References

* cite web|accessmonthday=May 27 |accessyear=2005
url=http://www.filmsite.org/citi5.html
title=Citizen Kane
work=

* cite web|accessmonthday=May 27 |accessyear=2005
url=http://www.orphyte.com/donaldjbingle/newpage7.htm
title=A Gamer’s View of the Movies
work=by Donald J. Bingle

* cite web|accessmonthday=May 27 |accessyear=2005
url=http://www.mysteriousworld.com/Journal/2003/Summer/Giants/
title=Mysterious World: Giants of the Americas
work=

External links

* [http://www.indyfan.com/gallery/wander/raiders/warehouse.jpgScreenshot of the Government Warehouse] from "Raiders of the Lost Ark"
* [http://www.warehouse23.com/basement Warehouse 23] allegedly run by a joint venture between the US Government and the Illuminati, this is actually (and openly) run by Steve Jackson Games. Readers can submit new items.


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