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Tilting at Windmills

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March 25, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

IS 24 LIBERAL OR CONSERVATIVE?....Last week 24 reverted to form: after learning early in the episode that CTU had been infiltrated by a mole, the (suspected) mole was located and immediately hauled off to an "interrogation room." Within a few minutes, this season's bad cop, Mike Doyle, had her tied up in a chair and was just about to start cuffing her around when he was suddenly called away to avert a drone headed for San Francisco with a nuclear cargo.

So this is yet more fodder for the fire: is 24 an inherently conservative show because of its message that torture is necessary, torture works, and only weak-kneed liberals object to it? Jane Mayer reignited the debate last month with a piece in the New Yorker that investigated 24's conservative roots.

At a broad level it's hard to argue with this, though not, I think, specifically because of 24's routine dramatization of torture -- which has become more a crutch for weary writers than anything else in recent seasons. It's more general: 24 is a tough-guy cop show, and tough-guy cop shows have appealed to conservatives for decades. Jack Bauer is basically an updated version of Dirty Harry, the poster boy for conservative backlash against urban crime in the early 70s.

So sure: 24 is a conservative Disneyland. But there's another side to the 24 story that's surprisingly liberal: its politics. There are, after all, really two stars in 24: Jack Bauer (when the action is on the ground) and the president of the United States (when the action shifts to politics). In Jack's world, being a tough guy works. In the president's world, it's exactly the opposite.

In fact, plot developments in the Oval Office (or Air Force One or an underground bunker or whatever vacation home is being used that season) are enough to warm the cockles of any lefty's heart. Why? Because the almost universal theme is that hawks are always wrong. Let's roll the tape.

In Season 2, a hawkish cabinet uses its 25th Amendment power to relieve the (Democratic) president of power because they consider him weak and indecisive for refusing to retaliate against a Middle Eastern country that has detonated a nuclear bomb on U.S. soil. But the hawks are dead wrong: it turns out that a group of shadowy businessmen fabricated the entire plot in order to push the U.S. into war and drive up oil prices. The liberal president is vindicated.

Season 4 starts out with a new (Republican) president who's killed midway through the season. The conservative, hawkish vice president who takes over turns out to be hesitant and incompetent. He's saved from disaster only by the advice and counsel of the liberal president from Season 2.

In Season 5, the hawkish president gins up a terrorist attack in order to give him an excuse to invoke the military terms of an anti-terrorism treaty and secure U.S. oil interests in central Asia. The plot is discovered and the president hauled off to jail.

Season 6 (the current season) stars a cautious, liberal (Democratic) president determined to protect civil liberties in the face of terrorist threats. His reward? An assassination attempt by a cabal of hawkish White House aides that leaves him in a coma and allows the vice president to order an unjustified attack on an unnamed (as usual) Middle Eastern country. You can guess how this is going to turn out.

So what's up? The hyperkinetic world of 24, where good and evil clash, torture is a necessary tool, and terrorist threats are everywhere, is indeed a paean to modern Bushian conservatism. But when the action switches to the Oval Office, hawks are almost universally portrayed as either ideologues who panic at the first sign of trouble or else scheming superpatriots who are desperate to push the United States into unjustified wars as a way of advancing their own mercenary agendas. If Joel Surnow's name weren't attached to the series, you might guess that it had been produced by Michael Moore.

So is 24 liberal or conservative? Schizophrenic, I'd say.

Kevin Drum 2:36 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (126)

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Comments

You realize that it's a damn tv show.....Life is much more complicated and nuanced. When you are president, you get to see the world as it really is,not as you believed it was when running for office.
I do not want a president who is too conservative,or too liberal, hawkish or dovish....I want one who understands what it is to be any of those and when to be them.
Something we definitely do not have today.

Posted by: marcus on March 25, 2007 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

Tunk!
Tunk!
Tunk!
Tunk!

Posted by: doug r on March 25, 2007 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

Of course it's a conservative show Kevin. Your attempts to spin otherwise smacks of desperation. Joel Surnow, creator of 24 and the other great conservative show the Half Hour News Show, proudly calls it a conservative show.

Link

""People in the Administration love the series, too," he said. "Its a patriotic show. They should love it.""

Al

Posted by: luuils on March 25, 2007 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

Brainwashing isn't liberal or conservative. 24 is brainwashing America to believe that torture can be an effective anti-terrorism tool.

The fact that 24 is well done doesn't change this,it makes it worse.

Posted by: Archie on March 25, 2007 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK

Am i the only person in America who has never seen an episode of this (well done) drek?

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C) on March 25, 2007 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK

Now you are just being obtuse, Henery. (Which is what hawksters do best, apparently.) It has been discussed ad infinitum in this forum and others. I have seen clips and previews, so the production quality is apparent. The show has inspired many column inches, and the head of West Point went to meet with the producers to tell them to tone down the gratuitous torture.

Criticism isn't unfounded, Henery. But you knew that. you are just a knee-jerk contrarian asshole, and you couldn't resist.

Jolly good show, old chap.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C) on March 25, 2007 at 3:26 PM | PERMALINK

luuils: "Of course it's a conservative show Kevin. Your attempts to spin otherwise smacks of desperation. Joel Surnow, creator of 24 and the other great conservative show the Half Hour News Show, proudly calls it a conservative show."

You then "prove" this by quoting Surnow saying that it's a "patriotic show." So patriotic = conservative now?

Have you watched the show, or at least more than a couple episodes? Kevin's entirely right about the dichotomy between the Bauer politics and the presidential politics, and I'm glad that SOMEONE is finally calling attention to this.

Posted by: AP on March 25, 2007 at 3:26 PM | PERMALINK

luuils,
I've seen some snippets of the Half Hour News Show. I would say it is some Boratian joke being played on the conservatives. The conservatives just lap it up while the rest of the world sees how stupid and inane it is and are laughing behind their backs.

I think that Surnow is running a scam. He knows that conservatives wouldn't know nuance if it bit them in the ass. He is playing them for chumps while they throw money hand and fist to him to produce more and more and more. All the while the rest of the world sees how the conservatives lap things up and laugh how stupid they are cuz the shows are actually mocking them.

Posted by: sTromboli on March 25, 2007 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

And, did you even read Kevin's post? Read the descriptions of Season 2 and Season 5! These were the CENTRAL PLOTS of the two seasons, and yes, they do sound like they could've been written by Michael Moore.

Posted by: AP on March 25, 2007 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK

Is it fun judging things you've never seen?

Actually, sometimes the answer to that is "Yes." I have never seen you, or Al, or egbert, but you lot have provided me many hours of good, raucous judgmental fun, all at your expense.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C) on March 25, 2007 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, while you rightly point out that in the president's world, the tough-guy act doesn't work, that is part of the problem. The thematic thrust of the show is that Jack's world --- where torture works --- is the "real" world, while the president's world is a false world. The entire point of the show is to contrast the actual necessity of torture in the "real" world in order to continue to prop up the ability of the president and the rest of us to operate in the "false" world. Since the story centers around Jack, the viewer is asked to identify with the real world and to look on the pansy-assed false world with contempt.

Posted by: collin on March 25, 2007 at 3:31 PM | PERMALINK

AP, I think luuils was making fun of THX 1138 - er - I meant Al. luuils was making fun of Al.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C) on March 25, 2007 at 3:31 PM | PERMALINK

You keep using this word, "superpatriots", to describe people working against both the rule of law and the ultimate interests of the US. Perhaps it does not mean what you seem to think it means?

Posted by: paul on March 25, 2007 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK

What kind of loser sits by his computer day and night to be the first or second commneter on every post by kevin, just to be contrarian (and stupidly so).

I just dont get it.

American Hawk, do you have a life to lead?
Or are you the consumate loser cheetos eating moms basement dwelling troll?

Every comment thread has your simplistic trolls for years now.

Posted by: james on March 25, 2007 at 3:51 PM | PERMALINK

How would a liberal version of 24 even work?

FBI Agent: "A nuclear bomb is going to go off in an hour. We caught the guy who planted it, but he's not talking."
Lawful Jack Bauer: Well, he has all sorts of rights, but under the circumstances, I would almost be willing to abrogate those rights. But it would mean CAREER SUICIDE for me, and might even subject me to criminal penalties, so I can't take the chance of...
Conservative Jack Bauer: I already beat the information out of him. He said the bomb is in a brown paper bag in the 7-11.
The Boss Jack Bauer: You jerk! The bomb is eight feet long!
Conservative Jack Bauer: That's too bad. The suspect died recently from causes not related to his being questioned. I have the medical report right ...
Other Jack Bauer (rushing in): They got the wrong guy. And it wasn't a bomb. It was a tank of oxygen for welding.
Conservative Jack Bauer: So everything's ok now. Right?

Posted by: hexatron on March 25, 2007 at 3:58 PM | PERMALINK

Blue Girl, Red State (Global Citizen),

I have never seen an episode of 24.

Posted by: adlsad on March 25, 2007 at 4:02 PM | PERMALINK

At the risk of offending everyone, I watched the first four seasons, will end up watching season five in the next couple of months, and six next year when it comes out on DVD. For me the show is bi/non-partisan in nature, and I find watching both sides trying to determine the political credentials of a TV show a bit on the hilarious side. It seems to me one can find a lot of good examples of confirmation bias on both sides when it comes to this show, me I treat it as I always have, an adrenaline junkies' show with great action sequences some decent writing/acting. In many ways I see it as no different than a soap opera.

I mean seriously folks, it is fiction, F I C T I O N, and giving it more meaning/weight than that seems a bit much to me. Do I think torture is a good thing? Of course not. Do I think that 24 is secretly brainwashing Americans into accepting torture? Only if I also accept the premise that all TV shows are always brainwashing the viewers to think what they want them to think, which I do not. Of course there will be those that take their inspiration from TV shows, just as there always were those that did so from movies, books, plays, whatever for literally centuries to millennia now. There will be those that argue this shows how something like torture works, which since by definition fiction is false/lies has always struck me as more evidence of the arguer's inability to think critically than anything else.

I have never really understood the debate surrounding this show that I have seen, both here at PA and elsewhere. There are far more serious problems these days than whether 24 has a conservative or liberal message, there is the war in Iraq, Afghanistan, Abu Ghraib (that still has not been fully dealt with), bad pre-war intelligence, use of bad pre-war intelligence by the WH, the USA firings and the repeated lies about why, the fiasco that is New Orleans "recovery" work, and the list goes on. So this seems to me to be at most a trivial diversion away from much more serious and consequential matters/issues that have far more bearing/weight on dealing with torture in the real world being done by real Americans in the name of the real American people instead of that of a TV show set in a fictional world.

Sorry folks, on this I think anyone taking this issue seriously needs to stop, take a deep breath and collect themselves, this is not a major issue, unlike all the others I listed (a far from complete list at that, just a starting point really) that really do have real world impacts and that need real world attention/focus on to deal with. While I can understand this as a diversion from such, to treat it as anything more than that just seems a waste of time and energy better used/needed elsewhere.

Posted by: Scotian on March 25, 2007 at 4:02 PM | PERMALINK

Never saw the show.
Never will see the show.

Tough cop guys are ugly bores.

'nuf said

Posted by: Matt Dillon on March 25, 2007 at 4:05 PM | PERMALINK

American Hawk started a great thread:

FBI Agent: "A nuclear bomb is going to go off in an hour. We caught the guy who planted it, but he's not talking."

Liberal Jack Bauer: "Alright, we don't have a choice, let's do what we can to get it out of him. May God have merc-"

Conservative Agent: "-Yes! Now I can prove I'm a man! My wife will regret fucking the gardner! Let's git her done!"

Liberal Jack Bauer: "Guards? Escort this man out."

Conservative Agent: "...why do you hate your country?"

Liberal Jack Bauer: "You fucking dumbass."

Conservative Agent: "Me like air."

Posted by: Boorring on March 25, 2007 at 4:23 PM | PERMALINK

24 is a tough-guy cop show, and tough-guy cop shows have appealed to conservatives for decades

It's not merely the tough-guy cop show appeal; it's a particular kind of lazy man's wish-fulfillment fantasy that seems to be particularly attractive to conservatives, and taps resentment as its source.

So, by appealing to the, "if only hot chicks weren't such judgemental bitches, they would date me" fantasy, you get zillions of images of attractive women paired with average or below men, not to mention the wide variety of narratives that employ humiliation of women who spurn.

And by appealing to the, "if only I didn't have to follow all The Man's stupid rules, everybody would see how special I am," you get shows like 24 and a million others where an all-action guy shows up those stupid bureaucrats by breaking the rules. People who can't succeed by following the rules naturally fantasize about breaking the rules, because the rules are what they have to blame for their failure.

These fantasies are critical to Republican psychology. "If only I didn't have to pay taxes to feed all those welfare queens, I'd have enough to reach the socioeconomic status where I SHOULD be..." Etc.

Posted by: cerebrocrat on March 25, 2007 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

What kind of loser sits by his computer day and night to be the first or second commneter on every post by kevin,

Did you ever think that perhaps it's Kevin who waits until I'm ready to post a reply, and then he posts an article at that very time? Which is kind of spooky since it would mean he's got cameras or something in my mom's basement here to watch me. Hmm. I guess I better go put on some underwear or something.

Posted by: American Hock on March 25, 2007 at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK

I've never seen the show either, but I have seen a photo of the producer, who looks like something that grew under Glenn Beck's arm.

They look so much alike I think the look is diagnostic.

They look like big babies.

Posted by: cld on March 25, 2007 at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK

Boorring - the hip quote is "I love lamp."

Posted by: anonymous on March 25, 2007 at 4:44 PM | PERMALINK

Drum - [I]s 24 inherently conservative because of its message that torture is necessary, torture works, and only weak-kneed liberals object to it... because of 24's routine dramatization of torture['s success] ... The hyperkinetic world of 24 where torture is a necessary tool is indeed a paean to modern Bushian conservatism [b]ut when the action switches to the Oval Office, hawks are almost universally portrayed as [wrong.] If Joel Surnow's name weren't attached to the series, you might guess that [24] had been produced by Michael Moore.

Or, many might guess this column was written by someone still unable to admit hissy fit nitwit Andres Martinez overreacted to an editorial decision by his bosses, that Martinez attemtpted to promote the equally offensive nitwittery of 24-producer Brian Grazer.

Hypothetically: A TV series "routinely" depicts the torture of Jews, but diversifies plot line to balance character outcome. Is the series routinely anti-Semitic or "schizophrenic?"

Shorter: torture, illiberal. Pro or routine torture, illiberal. Illiberal ~ conservative.

As routine torture to routinely conservative, Drum's routine to routine bowel evacuation.

Posted by: LAT Reader on March 25, 2007 at 4:45 PM | PERMALINK

I have no doubt that Surnow is more of an opportunist than a conservative. If 24 is intended as such a conservative masterwork, why wasn't he saying that during the first couple seasons, which came immediately after 9/11, rather than waiting until Limbaugh et al started wanking to it? This isn't to make a quality judgment of the show at all, but it's pretty clear to me (based on many of the reasons Kevin notes) that Surnow's chasing a gullible market.

Also, it should be noted for the record that Bauer did attempt to turn himself in after torturing a presidential aide last season.

Posted by: Aaron S. Veenstra on March 25, 2007 at 4:45 PM | PERMALINK

Is Jack's ability to transverse Los Angeles at anytime, day or night, in under 10 minutes conservative or liberal?

Posted by: Martin on March 25, 2007 at 4:45 PM | PERMALINK

so... This show actually ignored what the 25th Amendment actuall says? While the cabinet can formally begin the procedure to remove a president, they can not do so unilaterally and can not themselves remove a President's power. The President still retains all powers of the presidency unless congress votes to strip those powers from him. This was put into place specifically to prevent the plot-line discussed above from taking place. This vote must take place within 21 days of the order being issued and requires a 2/3rds majority in both houses of congress to become valid. Even if stripped of these powers, the President can formally compel a vote in congress to reinstate those powers any time during the remainder of his term. This vote must take place, and can not be denied by congress.

Posted by: soullite on March 25, 2007 at 4:45 PM | PERMALINK

Never watched it, not likely to ever watch it.

Soo many channels available but nothing worth watching.

Waste of a powerful resource.

I really miss the days of Playhouse 90 etc.

"...economics runs around trying to figure out how people rationalized what they just did." - Stirling Newberry (who gives "economics" way too much credit)

Posted by: daCascadian on March 25, 2007 at 4:45 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

You can't be this dense. The show is written by Joel Sumrow who is an avowed movement conservative. He invites Rush Limbaugh & David Horowitz to be back stage, he consults with the Heritage foundation, Michael Chertoff loves the show, the administartion loves the show & this is the same idiot who wrote the "Half hour News Hour" for Fox News.

Joel Sumrow is so shrill that he can't even tolerate watching the Daily Show.

I think you post this stuff so you can keep your centrist creds going.

-Joe

Posted by: Joe Loserman on March 25, 2007 at 4:46 PM | PERMALINK

Conservative Jack Bauer: I love torture... I love... desk.
Liberal Jack Bauer: Jack, are you just looking at things in the office and saying that you love them?
Conservative Jack Bauer: I love lamp.
Liberal Jack Bauer: Do you really love the lamp, or are you just saying it because you saw it?
Conservative Jack Bauer: I love lamp. I love lamp.

Posted by: anonymous on March 25, 2007 at 4:46 PM | PERMALINK

Good to know what you spend your time thinking about, Kev. Maybe it'll help you determine when the next "smart war" comes along.
Just ask Jack Bauer, he'll clue you in.

Posted by: Mooser on March 25, 2007 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK

An article, with a photo of the stooge producer,

“This past November, U.S. Army Brigadier General Patrick Finnegan, the dean of the United States Military Academy at West Point, ?ew to Southern California to meet with the creative team behind ’24.” Finnegan…was accompanied by three of the most experienced military and F.B.I. interrogators in the country. [They] had come to voice their concern that the show’s central political premise—that the letter of American law must be sacri?ced for the country’s security—was having a toxic effect. In their view, the show promoted unethical and illegal behavior and had adversely affected the training and performance of real American soldiers.” 24torture.JPGAccording to Finnegan, misperceptions spread by 24 had made it “increasingly hard to convince some [West Point] cadets that America had to respect the rule of law and human rights, even when terrorists did not.” The experts told 24’s producers that contrary to the impression offered by their show, torture is not just illegal, but also unreliable. Of the show, Joel Surnow says, “Our only politics are that terrorists are bad.” But Mayer points out that “many prominent conservatives speak of 24 as if it were real.” A friend of Surnow’s joked that the conservative writers at 24 have become “like a Hollywood television annex to the White House. It’s like an auxiliary wing.” (Surnow and several others from the show even attended a private luncheon at the White House.) How tragic for TV audiences that, just like that White House crowd, here's another right-winger who won't let the facts get in the way of his ideology. There's only one recourse: stop watching 24.

Describing this article.

Posted by: cld on March 25, 2007 at 4:52 PM | PERMALINK

Why isn't Jack Bauer in Iraq?

Posted by: Mooser on March 25, 2007 at 4:52 PM | PERMALINK

(Yawn)

Posted by: namvetted on March 25, 2007 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

Conservative Jack Bauer: And you know what they call a... a... a Quarter Pounder with Cheese in Paris?
Liberal Jack Bauer: They don't call it a Quarter Pounder with cheese?
Conservative Jack Bauer: No man, they got the metric system. They wouldn't know what the fuck a Quarter Pounder is.
Liberal Jack Bauer: Then what do they call it?
Conservative Jack Bauer: They call it a Royale with cheese.
Liberal Jack Bauer: A Royale with cheese. What do they call a Big Mac?
Conservative Jack Bauer: Well, a Big Mac's a Big Mac, but they call it le Big-Mac.
Liberal Jack Bauer: Le Big-Mac. Ha ha ha ha. What do they call a Whopper?
Conservative Jack Bauer: I dunno, I didn't go into Burger King. Then I pulled his fingers back and screamed DROP YOUR WEAPON! WHO DO YOU WORK FOR! WHERE IS THE BOMB!
Liberal Jack Bauer: You asked in French, of course.
Conservative Jack Bauer: Are you kidding? Everyone speaks English.

Posted by: anonymous on March 25, 2007 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

Persian Emissary: This is madness!
Spartan King Jack Bauer: Madness? THIS! IS! 24!

Posted by: anonymous on March 25, 2007 at 4:58 PM | PERMALINK

It is conservative. But it is Pat Buchanan conservative. The evil Wall Street elites are trying to suck us into wars to further their money-grubing schemes. Oil, gold, etc.

Posted by: md 20/400 on March 25, 2007 at 4:59 PM | PERMALINK

What I don't understand is why people, ideas, or TV shows be broken down as either conservative or liberal? It seems to me the only reason for many folks propensity to do so is so that incurious,knee jerks know whether they should approve or disapprove.

It seems to me, relative to a TV show, a more germane question is whether it's worth watching. My answer would be that Kiefer Sutherland is an atrocious actor whom I wouldn't change the channel, sitting on the couch with a remote, to watch.

Posted by: Chris Brown on March 25, 2007 at 5:03 PM | PERMALINK

Am i the only person in America who has never seen an episode of this (well done) drek?

Certainly not. I was mildly tempted to tune in for the first season, but never got around to it, and haven't really been tempted much since.

Not for political reasons, so much as all the discussion about it has given me the impression that the show is fairly dumb, started out over the top, and has been stuck trying to outdo itself since.

Plenty of better things to spend my TV-viewing time on.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 25, 2007 at 5:10 PM | PERMALINK

American Hawk: "Is it fun judging things you've never seen?"

Jesus Christ, Hawk. Talk about your pots and black kettles ...

The willful ignorance you impart here on a daily basis, regardless of subject, begs us to validate the concept of perpetual cluelessness as high art.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on March 25, 2007 at 5:11 PM | PERMALINK

People in the Administration may like the show in part because the show's view that a secret intelligence agency that's willing to do whatever it takes always prevails in the end fits in with their world view, but I also suspect part of the reason why the Bushies like the show so much is it's their way of tying their own flagging fortunes to a hot TV show. They can't like the show's White House politics--last season's villain clearly seems to have been an inspired cross between Nixon and George W. Bush while one of this season's main villains, Powers Boothe, is modeled after Dick Cheney all the way down to wearing suits that look like Cheney's.

Contrary to what conservatives often like to say, TV shows much like newspapers, aren't purely ideological most of the time. Their goals, after all, are to reach as broad of an audience as possible, and so it's usually in their best interest to mix and match their politics while paying close attention to what they perceive the current mood of the country to be. If 24 was a purely conservative show-imagine Jack Bauer torturing people in order to help a noble, brilliant president modeled after George W. Bush--how big would their audience be? Lots of liberals, even leftists like myself watch the show, that audience would disappear leaving only diehard conservatives to watch the show. It might still be a hit, but it would be a cult hit with a much smaller audience.

Conservatives are convinced Hollywood is filled with a bunch of liberals whose only goal is to brainwash the American public into accepting their ideology. I worked in the movie industry for several years, and while the overwhelming majority of people I met there were liberal Democrats, politics was no more discussed in the production offices I worked in than it was in any other office I've worked in. The main ideology in Hollywood isn't progressive or even Democratic, the main ideology is how to make as much money as possible.

One quick comment about toture in 24. While it's clearly overused in the show (my wife and I view the tediously repetitive torture scenes as a good excuse to say go get something to eat or check our email), the use of torture on the show is more nuanced than its credited as being. Jack aknowledges that the really tough villains can't be tortured into revealing information, that it's a waste of time. We even saw that this season when Jack's brother gave Jack intentionally wrong information under torture, though there are other examples over the course of the series. We are also starting to see this season hints at the nefarious effects torture can have on torturers--we've seen it a couple of times with Jack this season though this being TV the effects go away as quickly as a gunshot wound. I am not defending their use of torture, which they use too much as a lazy crutch, I just think even here the show isn't as rightwing as people seem to assume it is.

Posted by: Guscat on March 25, 2007 at 5:15 PM | PERMALINK



| I have no doubt that Surnow is more of an opportunist than a conservative. |

Joel Surnow, "opportunistic" conservative.

Posted by: LAT Reader on March 25, 2007 at 5:16 PM | PERMALINK

So is 24 liberal or conservative?

I don't know, but I bet that the Death Star could beat the Enterprise in battle. . .

Posted by: RSA on March 25, 2007 at 5:39 PM | PERMALINK

A couple of months ago (give or take a week or two) C-span broadcast a conference at the Heritage or AIE on the subject of how 24 reflects the American Intelligence community or something like that. Surnow was there along with Rush Limbaugh.
It was surreal, I thought then and I still think now.
24 is entertainment. Fiction. Nothing more, nothing less.
To have a somber discussion in a Think Tank of its connection to national policy is an exercise for those who really have nothing to contribute to shaping the realities we face daily.
It underlined the Conservative's infatuation with the "Absolute Fake" that was embodied to a large degree by Reagan and the now defunct mythologies surrounding Bush the Younger.
Yes, it suggests the loonies are in charge.

Posted by: OXYMORON on March 25, 2007 at 5:40 PM | PERMALINK

"So is 24 liberal or conservative? Schizophrenic, I'd say."

Oh wow, so as long as a show isn't conservative, it's
ok for it to promote *torture* !

That is such a disgusting argument!!

Posted by: Terry on March 25, 2007 at 5:43 PM | PERMALINK

Senator Hagel:

Any president who says, I don't care, or I will not respond to what the people of this country are saying about Iraq or anything else, or I don't care what the Congress does, I am going to proceed _ if a president really believes that, then there are _ what I was pointing out, there are ways to deal with that," said Hagel, who is considering a 2008 presidential run.

I can just see the political cartoon on this one:

Bush up in tree doing his usual "sneering and jeering" at the Dems from his nostalgic high of the "executive branch" BUT with Hagel, a big smiling Cheshire Cat peering out between the leaves, smiling and sawing away at the limb that Bush is standing on.

Posted by: Cheryl on March 25, 2007 at 5:44 PM | PERMALINK

Seriously, is that really the plot of 24 or did you make this up? This reads like something from the Onion.

Posted by: ogmb on March 25, 2007 at 5:47 PM | PERMALINK

Mooser: "Just ask Jack Bauer, he'll clue you in."

While certainly well-sritten, stylish and fast-paced, 24 is little more than a malevolent live-action cartoon based on a childishly crude two-dimensional concept of what constitutes good and evil in this world.

Can you neocon dipshits even discern a difference between entertainment and reality anymore? You clowns couldn't have possibly fucked things up any worse than you already have, if you drew your inspiration for the so-called War on Terror from watching Wile E. Coyote chase the Road Runner.

Or maybe you already do. 5-1/2 years after George Bush declared Osama bin Laden "Wanted: Dead or Alive", we're all still wondering where the 9/11 mastermind / bogeyman is.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on March 25, 2007 at 5:48 PM | PERMALINK

It's not schizophrenic. It is network tv.

Fox News can afford to go after a relative small audience of conservatives as they still do well for a cable news channel (to use the word "news" loosely).

Prime time shows a major network must have a much larger audience to be successful. Just as West Wing tried to add Republicans to make the show of interest to more than liberal Democrats, the producers of 24 realize that they must make the show enjoyable for more than right wing Republicans to be successful.

Posted by: Ron Chusid on March 25, 2007 at 5:48 PM | PERMALINK

| Oh wow, so as long as a show isn't conservative, it's ok for it to promote *torture* ! That is such a disgusting argument!! |

Exactly. Never watched it, never will. Next.

Posted by: LAT Reader on March 25, 2007 at 5:48 PM | PERMALINK

Never seen it, probably never will. I've got little spare time, and I've got standards (for the trolls, one of those standards is "torture is wrong"). I heard Farenheit 911 had a beheading in it, I've never been to see that, either.

Posted by: dr2chase on March 25, 2007 at 5:52 PM | PERMALINK

People should quit fixating on Joel Surnow when trying to justify the conservativeness of the show. People seem to forget that there are several executive producers on this show, one of which is Howard Gordan who describes himself as a "moderate Democrat", and Kiefer Sutherland is himself a liberal (perhaps not as leftist as his dad), so in some ways the show balances itself out.

Posted by: ItAintEazy on March 25, 2007 at 5:53 PM | PERMALINK

Am I the only person in America who has never seen an episode of this (well done) drek?

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C) on March 25, 2007 at 3:18 PM

Thank you, I was starting to wonder myself. Hey, America, it's a freaking TV show, for God's sake. It's less "real" than American Idol.

Posted by: FitterDon on March 25, 2007 at 5:56 PM | PERMALINK

Am i the only person in America who has never seen an episode of this (well done) drek?

If you've never seen an episode, how do you know it's well done or drek? Is it fun judging things you've never seen?

Posted by: American Hawk on March 25, 2007 at 3:19 PM |

Is it fun making up shit because you don't know what you're talking about. BGRS may have been talking about clowns like yourself basing their world-view on a retarded TV show, asshat.

Posted by: FitterDon on March 25, 2007 at 6:01 PM | PERMALINK

"Is Jack's ability to transverse Los Angeles at anytime, day or night, in under 10 minutes conservative or liberal?"

Conservative. Freeways work a lot better in conservative fantasy land than in the real world.

:)

Posted by: jefff on March 25, 2007 at 6:31 PM | PERMALINK

So is 24 liberal or conservative? Schizophrenic, I'd say.

Schizophrenia is a degenerative brain disorder characterized by hallucinations and delusions (aka psychosis), disorganization, and other symptoms. It has nothing to do with having a "split personality." People with split personalities have (you'd never guess) Multiple Personality Disorder, which is not degenerative.

OK, think of it this way:
24--Multiple Personality Disorder (purportedly).
American Hawk--schizophrenic.

Posted by: calling all toasters on March 25, 2007 at 6:36 PM | PERMALINK

One-dimensional question is inadequate: "liberal or conservative? is limiting to a single line (with a left and a right, of sorts), and ultimately meaningless. At the very least consider adding state-authoritarian vs. individual-empowering and even then not enough. Then ponder overall scheme (government and agencies), and individual struggles (Jack Bauer's and that of the rest). At that point, the question becomes interesting.

Posted by: A on March 25, 2007 at 6:37 PM | PERMALINK

If your having limbs blown off by proudly made-in-the-USA 'smart'ordinance in the Middle East I guess the difference between Liberals and conservatives is as crucial as the difference between Coke and Pepsi.

( Or 'The Corner' and Kevin Drum for that matter)

Posted by: professor rat on March 25, 2007 at 6:45 PM | PERMALINK

Screw 24...Battlestar Galactica is where it's at.

Blue Girl, Red State - I saw the pilot episode of 24 & I will happliy confirm for you: it's drek.

Posted by: KerouacZac on March 25, 2007 at 6:50 PM | PERMALINK

Did I miss the episode where Jack has anal sex with George Bush?

Posted by: Bullwinkle on March 25, 2007 at 6:53 PM | PERMALINK

Its not liberal or conservative!!

Its libertarian!!!

Posted by: Declare A Vision on March 25, 2007 at 6:58 PM | PERMALINK

BULLWINKLE. Yes, you did miss that episode, it was a good one. Season 3, episode 7.

I think that episode won at the pornography awards.

Posted by: Declare A Vision on March 25, 2007 at 7:01 PM | PERMALINK

I'm a recent convert to 24 starting with this season and having just finished up season 2 on DVD. To me, both Palmer administrations (from Season 2 and the current season) are the antithesis of Bush W.'s administration. I have a hard time seeing the politics of the presidents being conservative.

Posted by: gq on March 25, 2007 at 7:24 PM | PERMALINK

Is Jack's ability to transverse Los Angeles at anytime, day or night, in under 10 minutes conservative or liberal?

His ability to withhold bowel movements for an entire day is definitely conservative.

Posted by: Disputo on March 25, 2007 at 7:41 PM | PERMALINK

I have no doubt that Surnow is more of an opportunist than a conservative.

That's like being more of a cantelope than a honeydew.

Posted by: Disputo on March 25, 2007 at 7:44 PM | PERMALINK

You seem like a republican apologist lately Kevin.

Like you have this fantasy where republicans are 60 year old white guys who work hard and are a little backwoodsy in a lovable way, and democrats are 50 year old white guys who are a little more urban and edgy (but not much) and nerdy. And politics is just these two dudes who are basically arguing fishing buddies. And then you go back to the cabin and laugh with your families.

But really, it's like the republicans are raping your daughter, buggering your son, wiping it off on your wifes hair, then stealing your towels from the cabin, pissing in your bathroom sink, spiking your medicine, while you are cooking him breakfast trying to be nice, then he banters with you for a few minutes in the fishing boat, before stealing your fish and burning down the cabin while you guys are sleeping. You constantly give republicans too much credit.

We've had 5 years of crap from these guys, exposing them beyond all doubt as completely corrupted and evil to the core, do you remember any of it?

Posted by: TomK on March 25, 2007 at 7:55 PM | PERMALINK

I started watching 24 the season they started the torture. I enjoyed the first few episodes that led up to the torture. I turned it off when the torture began and haven't watched it since. It seems to me that Kevin has it pegged as schizophrenic. The torture may appear to the producers that it keeps the ratings up; thus, the torture continues. But, I remember when some good programs came on and were great because of the full and interesting characters, very interesting stories being told with drama and humor. Hill Street Blues and ER come to mind. But, then when they become the top shows in the ratings, it seems that someone decides that in order to keep them in high spots in the ratings, the shows need more sex or violence. And, the one tactic I hate most is that when viewers have gotten to know and like a character who is basically good; but, makes small errors as most human beings do, the writers will betray the viewers and turn that character into a real whackjob. Usually, that is the beginning of the end of a good program.

Posted by: Mazurka on March 25, 2007 at 8:15 PM | PERMALINK

All this demonstrates is what's been obvious for decades-- Hollywood is a hotbed of liberals making reactionary movies. If you see a lot of silent movies you quickly learn the preoccupation of the age was threatened virginity, and if you see a lot of today's movies you quickly learn it's revenge, which completely justifies any badass vigilante behavior of the sort which would utterly horrify Hollywood liberals in real life.

What I was thinking about in relation to 24 was the presidency. So far we've seen one president infected with something and later assassinated, his successor incapacitated in a plane crash (and never heard of again), the next guy forced to resign (I think) and finally killed by his First Lady, the next guy incapacitated in a bomb, and Powers Boothe clearly has to go down by the end of this season... man, who'd want the job in that world? Your life expectancy is shorter than a 5th century Roman emperor....

Posted by: Mike G on March 25, 2007 at 8:32 PM | PERMALINK

I have never seen an episode of "24". I did read the New Yorker article and would think that it is conservatively oriented based on the Surnow quotes,at least the ones that were published.

MI-5 on BBC was/is a well done analog to "24" and included in one episode an incident where the central figure, in terrorizing the "terrorist" by hanging him over a railing 8 stories up, loses his grip and the guy falls to his death. The agent goes back in and brings the other "terrorist" out and sure enough the second one,seeing his compadre sprawled in the courtyard below,tells everything he knows. The agent tells his associate that he did what needed to be done.
Is that conservative or liberal? I'd guess that since it was on BBC America,a station almost as liberal as NPR,it was the latter, just British liberal rather than US liberal.

Posted by: TJM on March 25, 2007 at 8:36 PM | PERMALINK

Another thing -- in the 24 world, the American government generally and CTU specifically have spent the last few years antagonizing China and Russia, which has translated into those countries being *named* bad guys on the show. Indeed, Jack Bauer has stormed both countries' LA consulates and been tortured for a year and a half by the Chinese.

So why do they keep talking about attacking "Fayed's country?" Let's find a strategic target in Fayed's country, blah blah blah. Just say "Iran," you pussies.

Posted by: Aaron S. Veenstra on March 25, 2007 at 8:46 PM | PERMALINK

You might have to go a little deeper than that Kevin.

People defending conservatism don't run around with pom poms anymore. The defend it by claiming the current adminstration is failing for other reasons -- stupidity, corruption, cronyism, ineptitude, false ideology, lack of courage . . .

I haven't watched the show for a while, but it sounds like what you are describing.

Posted by: B on March 25, 2007 at 9:33 PM | PERMALINK

The further irony is that torture doesn't particularly work in the Bauer world either. Nine times out of ten, the person being tortured is either innocent or lying.

If you want to examine the show on a subtextual level, don't look at national politics. It's not about that. It's about the frustrations of working in the corporate world.

The real message of the show is that the only competent people in the 24 world are the terrorists and Jack Bauer. His coworkers and superiors tends are all traitors, morons and fuck-ups that constantly get in his way. His daughter's a moron and his wife got shot by the woman he was having an affair with. He's not a happy guy, but he's the only one remotely competent to do the job.

Bauer's a guy who can shoot his boss in the leg with a tranquilizer gun, spend the day out of the office ignoring phone calls from the CEO while saving the world and still find himself sold out and fired at the end of the season, at least until his coworkers fuck things up again and have to bring him back on.

The political politics of the show are incoherent because they are not the point. It's the office politics that drive the action.

Posted by: anon on March 25, 2007 at 9:44 PM | PERMALINK

I will not be shy.

I have consumed this.

Who else can say as much?

Posted by: cld on March 25, 2007 at 10:00 PM | PERMALINK

KD seems to have confused "hawk" with right-wing-nutjob. Even a leftist like me can see the difference. The conflicts described in the post are not between liberals and conservative hawks, but between centrists or center-right people, and right-wing loons--not hawks. Just because the show manages to portray crazy people even more authoritarian and warmongering than the those who are ultimately proved right, doesn't mean that those proved right aren't themselves comfortably right of center. It just makes them look reasonable by comparison. See, they say, we aren't right-wing compared to coup-plotter and assassins, are we? And KD falls for it.

Posted by: JD on March 25, 2007 at 10:14 PM | PERMALINK

Never watched the show, either, but, as a liberal, I don't like conservatives being given a bad name. There hasn't been a true conservative in the White House since Ike, and I don't think he would torture. A Bushie would, though.

Posted by: Henderstock on March 25, 2007 at 10:15 PM | PERMALINK

So is 24 liberal or conservative?

They are commercial, and they write what they think will sell.

Posted by: spider on March 25, 2007 at 10:24 PM | PERMALINK

Anent torture in general:

How many nuclear drones have been intercepted due to torture? How many ticking bombs have been defused? Real world. None.

And yet despite the absence of these kinds of exigencies, torture is all too common in our interrogation methods. It sounds like the camel is in the tent, the camel's cousins are in the tent, all the camel's friends are in the tent. And they're braying for more.

Posted by: Jeffrey Davis on March 25, 2007 at 10:44 PM | PERMALINK

A liberal version of 24 would at least have some congressional oversight of a CTU that's hired a mole every season.

Posted by: Fred on March 25, 2007 at 11:28 PM | PERMALINK

No Kevin,

It's boring crap for sated minds

Posted by: S Brennan on March 25, 2007 at 11:36 PM | PERMALINK

This sounds exactly like somebody trying to convince me that Fox News is inherhently fair and balanced because Alan Colmes is such an interesting foil for Sean Hannity.

WTF is happening to my blogosphere, goddammit!?

Posted by: s9 on March 25, 2007 at 11:45 PM | PERMALINK

A liberal 24 . . . you got me. It would have to start by giving up on the premise that terrorists with nuclear bombs are huge realistic threats that dwarf all other problems in America. That would make it a lot less exciting -- so it would probably flop.

The discovery channel has a pretty good series on about planet earth. Makes me want to get a high def TV.

Posted by: amerlcan buzrd on March 26, 2007 at 12:22 AM | PERMALINK

Not that I've ever seen 24 (stopped watching TV years ago), but the writers of Ally McBeal played similarly schizophrenic games with whether it was a feminist show. It's probably a common device to draw in people on both sides of a controversial topic.

Posted by: thump on March 26, 2007 at 12:27 AM | PERMALINK

Wait, Aaron - Jack Bauer was tortured for a year and a half by the Chinese?

My respect for China just keeps on growing.

My question is: on what grounds do conservatives OBJECT to the Chinese torturing Jack Bauer? He might after all have information that's crucial to their efforts to defend themselves against pro-Tibetan and Uyghur terrorism, and Taiwanese separatism. And the notion that "international law" should pre-empt the role of Chinese Commander-in-Chief Hu Jintao in deciding issues of national security would clearly be rejected out of hand by somebody like John Bolton.

Posted by: brooksfoe on March 26, 2007 at 1:13 AM | PERMALINK

Incidentally, on the general topic: arguing that "24" is a liberal show seems to me rather like arguing that "Dirty Harry" was a feminist movie, because the Tyne Daly sidekick character turns out to be really tough.

Posted by: brooksfoe on March 26, 2007 at 1:16 AM | PERMALINK

A lady who I always thought of as a with-it leftie adores the damn thing. Hell, Scotian, Star Trek - with Shatner - was political propaganda. Sometimes it was embarrassing it was so obvious. BSG rocks. The original ? Maybe one in three was o.k. And 24 :
Is it left - right - schitzie ? Nah. Parannoyed. ( I can spell - and pun )

Posted by: opit on March 26, 2007 at 1:27 AM | PERMALINK

I'm fascinated by how fascinated liberal blogs are with 24. In my very humble opinion (ha!) it's an engaging, somewhat farcical spy movie, complete with tons of Bond-ish technical goodies (from the very first season they demonstrated that the show would be impossible without cell phones and PDAs) and a weekly cliffhanger (shades of the 1930s). The blog fascination with torture, especially the bloggers and comment writers who have never even seen the program, is also instructive. They are apparently convinced that the program glorifies torture because Jack Bauer is so successful with it. But already in this season, Jack has gone running off with a complete misdirection as a result of his confidence that torture works.

But the program also presents that simplistic conundrum: if you knew that you could prevent the detonation of a nuclear device by chopping a few joints off someone's finger, would you do it? On the comic level, it's ridiculous, but can you seriously answer "no"?

24 is nowhere near as demonic as some on the Left (especially those who've never watched it) would believe, but their belief fuels its success. It's fiction, and no more real or shallow than 90% of the spy fiction produced since the 1960s.

Posted by: gummitch on March 26, 2007 at 1:28 AM | PERMALINK

if you knew that you could prevent the detonation of a nuclear device by chopping a few joints off someone's finger, would you do it? On the comic level, it's ridiculous, but can you seriously answer "no"?

I view that question in the same way I view this question: If you knew that you would go to heaven if you killed a bunch of infidels, would you do it?

Posted by: Disputo on March 26, 2007 at 1:54 AM | PERMALINK

Yeah, but gummitch, you have to admit that the conservative offensive over torture has taken the ticking-time-bomb issue as its centerpiece, and "24" is the dramatic articulation of that centerpiece -- indeed, it's built into the structure of the series's narrative. And because of the prevalence of the "24" narrative, it has proven infuriatingly impossible to get the word out to the general public that the ticking-time-bomb scenario NEVER HAPPENS. And that for this reason, its use in justifying state policies of torture amounts to what the Soviets used to call "dezinformatsiya".

The old canard about "would you cut off the finger to prevent the nuke" is not a harmless philosophical chestnut. It's similar to the way totalitarian governments say: "If someone were using so-called 'freedom of speech' to plot the overthrow of the state in the service of foreign powers, doesn't the government have an obligation to stop them?" The answer, of course, is not "yes". It is: human rights campaigners are not plotting the overthrow of the state in the service of foreign powers. This is why liberals get so fired up and infuriated by "24": it depicts things happening which are not happening -- and it is IMPORTANT that those things are not happening.

Posted by: brooksfoe on March 26, 2007 at 1:54 AM | PERMALINK

Liberal? Conservative?

Try Corporatist. In the sense Benito M. meant.

Posted by: kelley b. on March 26, 2007 at 1:57 AM | PERMALINK

Hell, Scotian, Star Trek - with Shatner - was political propaganda.

Political propaganda for democratic self-determination, racial integration and international mutual respect political propaganda for violent xenophobia and freeing the secret police to kill and torture unencumbered by legal constraints or democratic oversight.

Posted by: brooksfoe on March 26, 2007 at 1:59 AM | PERMALINK

Oh, whoops, that was supposed to have a "(not equals") in there. Forgot that when you put things in pointy brackets they go away to magic HTML land.

Posted by: brooksfoe on March 26, 2007 at 2:01 AM | PERMALINK

"So this is yet more fodder for the fire: is 24 an inherently
conservative show because of its message that torture is necessary,
torture works, and only weak-kneed liberals object to it? Jane Mayer
reignited the debate last month with a piece in the New Yorker that
investigated 24's conservative roots."

Here is the link to the New Yorker article:

http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2007/02/19/070219fa_fact_mayer

Jane Mayer's article was about much more than whether or not 24
is conservative. The main point was that Patrick Finnegan (dean
of West Point) and 3 professional interrogators met with the
producers of 24 and asked them to please stop glamorizing torture.
General Finnegan had found that 24 was having a toxic effect on
his students. To quote from the article:

Finnegan "... always tries, he said, to get his students to sort
out not just what is legal but what is right. However, it had
become increasingly hard to convince some cadets that America
had to respect the rule of law and human rights, even when
terrorists did not. One reason for the growing resistance,
he suggested, was misperceptions spread by “24,” which was
exceptionally popular with his students. As he told me,
“The kids see it, and say, ‘If torture is wrong, what
about “24”?’ ” He continued, “The disturbing thing is that
although torture may cause Jack Bauer some angst, it is
always the patriotic thing to do.”

You can bet that 24 is not only having a toxic effects on
these students, but also on all it's viewers. I'm well aware
that there are many, many 24 viewers who are against torture,
but 24 does a very good job of making them more desensitized
to torture, and more sympathetic to the angst of the torturer.
Also 24 brilliantly *frames* the issue of torture around the
question of whether or not torture is an effective way to
gather information. But if you look at history, that has rarely
been the reason for using torture, instead it is used (very
effectively) to intimidate opponents of the government (these
opponents, will not only be killed they will be tortured into
begging for death). Torture has also been used extensively
by repressive governments to get false confessions.

So officers and troops are more likely now to support torture
than in the past thanks to the corrosive influence of 24. What
this means, is that thanks to 24 prisoners are now more
likely to be tortured than in previous wars, and those officers
and troops unwilling to actually torture are more likely to
"see where the torturer is coming from" and thus less
likely to turn them in for torturing.

See Joe Darby:

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/12/07/60minutes/main2238188_page4.shtml

So where does that leave the liberal anti-torture fan of 24?
Well you can continue to support a show that has lead to more
prisoners being tortured.That is you can put your own right to
be entertained above all else.

Or you can do the right thing and boycott 24.

Posted by: Terry on March 26, 2007 at 2:16 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin, please read the comment above re: the correct definition of schizophrenia. The term is almost always misused, but that's no reason to continue the misunderstanding.

Posted by: Louise on March 26, 2007 at 3:38 AM | PERMALINK

Brooksfoe In general, your point is bang on. I was thinking of one of the more hackneyed Star Trek episodes in which the cold war had degenerated for so long on a parallel earth that the ideological differences were perverted to the point of being vitually unrecognizable. The spoof "The Trouble with Tribbles" was much more fun : and has an analogy in the providing of Indian tribes with blankets exposed to disease as a medium of infection.
And Jack Bauer ? Not interested.

Posted by: opit on March 26, 2007 at 9:15 AM | PERMALINK

BGRS,

Spot on - And now back to BBC America and TVG.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on March 26, 2007 at 9:23 AM | PERMALINK

I watched the fist season.

Sat there lost in wonder at the hyperventilating critical praise being lavished on a series which made no sense whatsoever, not point of contact with the real world, as the plot looped backwards and forwards and contradicted in episode 6 everything which had happened in episodes 1-5.

Thing made no sense. I was astonished. There were huge gaps in continuity. Sub-plots which were ridiculous and obviously there for the 'Poor Nell is tied to the railroad tracks but can our hero Dudley arrive in time to save her' phony suspense.

Attractive wife and appallingly dim but scantily clad daughter kidnapped and rescued not once but - what? - three times in one day?

Blue Girl, it's drek. Solid wall-to-wall drek. Full of crap from the old cliff-hanger serials they used to recycle as 'children's tv' back in the 50's. With better production values, more graphic violence, and fancy FX and camera work.

Bah!

Posted by: MsNThrope on March 26, 2007 at 9:33 AM | PERMALINK

The drip-drip-drip theme of 24 is not to get Americans used to the use of torture, but to get us used to the idea of escalating terrorism on our soil.

Posted by: beloml on March 26, 2007 at 10:01 AM | PERMALINK

I'm with Kevin. 24 can't be easily pegged on the political scale. The main characters continually get placed in situations of having to commit an immoral act to (hopefully) avert a larger catastrophe. Sometimes it works, sometimes not.

I thought it was very striking this last week when the Mike Doyle character starts threatening the possible mole. It was played as a repellant act, but you couldn't help but think of the times Bauer has done the exact same thing, for exactly the same reason (heck, I think he did it to his girlfriend last year when she was fingered as being a mole). I thought it powerfully pointed out the evil of torture-in addition to the harm done to the victim (who you could at least argue is a bad guy who deserves it), we ask our people to become torturers.

Posted by: Chris on March 26, 2007 at 10:42 AM | PERMALINK

I just wish the Bush administration didn't believe that 24 is reality.

I have never seen an episode of 24.

If you've seen one episode - you've seen them all.

Posted by: ckelly on March 26, 2007 at 11:12 AM | PERMALINK

'hyperkinetic ' is a great way of describing how 24 grabbed so much attention.

In many ways it was 'Short Attention Span Theater' and adapted many of its most obvious 'innovations' in pacing and so forth directly from the Madison Ave bags of behaviorists tricks.

The multiple appeals to emotional responses from more primitive areas of the brain were thrown at the viewer in such profusion and so rapidly that the critical and executive functions of the forebrain were just completely overwhelmed.

Didn't have to make sense. Who cared? Got a big audience share to the sponsors...

Posted by: MsNThrope on March 26, 2007 at 11:17 AM | PERMALINK

"A lady who I always thought of as a with-it leftie adores the damn thing. Hell, Scotian, Star Trek - with Shatner - was political propaganda. Sometimes it was embarrassing it was so obvious. BSG rocks. The original ? Maybe one in three was o.k. And 24 :
Is it left - right - schitzie ? Nah. Parannoyed. ( I can spell - and pun )" Posted by: opit on March 26, 2007 at 1:27 AM

My wife will be fascinated to know that I have switched genders on her; I'm surprised she hasn't noticed this yet. Incidentally, I am sure you can quote me saying I "adored" 24; otherwise you might want to tone it down somewhat. Seems to me I said I had liked/enjoyed it (which is far from adoring it in my lexicon), at least the first four years worth, and that most of all I considered it FICTION and think those that take FICTION too seriously (as in assigning political messaging to in the belief that TV conditions/brainwashes people, a premise I am not sold on) need to take a breath and focus on the more serious and important problems facing Americans and the world and listed some examples. I did say I understood the show for what it was, that I thought it had some good writing/acting (although it clearly deteriorated as the seasons went on, no shock given the premise for the show and the need to top each prior year, especially given this was always an adrenaline ride kind of show) and acting, but that is hardly a rave review of a serious fan now is it?

Incidentally, just because a show has a message does not automatically qualify it as propaganda. This is one of the things I was talking about regarding seeing signs of confirmation bias from both sides of this discussion. While I accept that fictional TV can have some impact on the way people see the world there is a level of dismissal of the human responsibility in believing the viewers are just helpless to resist it and helpless to make the distinctions between fiction and non-fiction that I will not accept/go along with. Unlike movement conservatives I actually believe in the importance of personal responsibility, and we are all responsible for whether we are able to distinguish fact from fiction and to think for ourselves.

Oh yes, I also enjoy BSG a great deal, ST:TOS was the only optimistic view of the future when I was growing up on TV, everything else had darker themes of post apocalyptic futures whereas it had a vision of humanity surviving, thriving, and cooperating which during the middle of the Cold War was not something most believed would be possible since majority/common wisdom/perception/belief was that we would be radioactive cinders in the not too distant future. The fact that I can appreciate a thrill ride type of TV show as equally valid and with some enjoyment to it despite some of the more controversial aspects only indicates I know how to keep reality and fiction separate in my mind.

Posted by: Scotian on March 26, 2007 at 11:33 AM | PERMALINK

The fact that I can appreciate a thrill ride type of TV show as equally valid and with some enjoyment to it despite some of the more controversial aspects only indicates I know how to keep reality and fiction separate in my mind.
Posted by: Scotian

For years after 'Home Alone' came out hundreds of people continued to show up at the home of the people who leased it to the film crews looking for character played by McCauley Culkin. They all actually expected that he would be there and were frequently abusive to the owners when they tried to explain that it was 'just a movie'.

Posted by: MsNThrope on March 26, 2007 at 12:05 PM | PERMALINK

You're talking about a TV show? WTF!

Doesn't watching it waste enough time?

Posted by: Paul H. on March 26, 2007 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

They all actually expected that he would be there and were frequently abusive to the owners when they tried to explain that it was 'just a movie'.
Posted by: MsNThrope

They also expected him to still be nine years old...even 10 years later.

Posted by: MsNThrope on March 26, 2007 at 1:16 PM | PERMALINK

Scotian: 'adrenaline' is most likely not the primary hormone. I'd bet that there are a dozen at least which act to inhibit critical reasoning. And that's the whole point.

This reasoning from 'me' to the general is not always a good idea. There's a word for that...starts with 's'.

Posted by: MsNThrope on March 26, 2007 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK

There is plenty of research that demonstrates that watching violent TV (and playing violent video games) desensitized people towards violence. That this doesn't happen to all viewer/players (or, as is more likely, those who claim that they can compartmentalize FACT from FICTION are probably deluding themselves as to the effect on them, since people are generally piss-poor at self-diagnosis) doesn't make the phenomenon any less real or problematic.

Even if none of what I just said is true, the fact that the people that teach torture in the US military are reporting that "24" is adversely effecting their students should be enough for people to take notice of the problem.

Posted by: Disputo on March 26, 2007 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

(or, as is more likely, those who claim that they can compartmentalize FACT from FICTION are probably deluding themselves as to the effect on them, since people are generally piss-poor at self-diagnosis) - Disputo

Yep. But, it makes their ability to make rational decisions about one brand of deodorant vs another virtually identical product in a sleeker container and with more cutaways with tits inoperative...that's the whole point.

Posted by: MsNThrope on March 26, 2007 at 2:09 PM | PERMALINK

Disputo/MsNThrope:

*SIGH*

I think you both missed the point I was trying to make, to whit there are far more serious problems facing America and Americans than whether a fictional TV a show is having a negative impact regarding how torture is perceived let alone whether it is a conservative or liberal rooted show. I believe I also noted that there will be some that will be so influenced, just as there have been equally so in other fictional creative works from cinema to plays to literature over thousands of years. Now, I am well aware that there are some that act this way, I am more than old enough to recall why they introduced the "555" prefix to all phone numbers on TV and in movies, because people were treating it as real. I know that when Babylon 5 was first run there was an episode acting like a newscast which had a bar saying "press here for hypertext download" on their TV screens which hundreds tried to press thinking it was real. In other words I am not saying there are not those out there that are going to be so shaped, my point was they are not the biggest problem or anywhere near the top that America and Americans have to deal with. If anything I find it more symptomatic of the problems America has than as any sort of driver/cause for those problems. If anything the problem is in not being able to tell fact from fiction because in American society, and especially within the political culture over the last quarter century critical thinking and skepticism and intellectual prowess is mocked and made fun of instead of respected for what it is, one of humanity's greatest abilities.

Now, I do not believe that TV brainwashes all or even most of those that watch it. I am aware of the desensitization issue on violence; I know how duplication/mimicry occurs, especially in the younger set to what they see on TV. My point though is how much of that is due to parents and educators not teaching children critical thought capabilities and to distinguish between reality and fiction, and that is what I am talking about regarding personal accountability/responsibility. I am not saying there is no problem here; just that comparatively it is minor in the face of the more severe ones clearly out there. That the idea that TV shows are deliberately written with the primary goal of "brainwashing" the viewers is more than I can buy into, and that I find trying to determine the political nature of a TV show to be rather wasteful of energies and efforts that should be focused on the more serious issues/problems I mentioned, and that I find the idea of treating this seriously as an issue of deep concern rather puzzling in the light of all those greater challenges.

Incidentally Disputo, I am sure you can show where I as a person that considers himself capable of separating Fact from Fiction have actually demonstrated that I am actually incapable of such from my various writings here at PA over the past several years, right? Otherwise one might be inclined to take the following: "(or, as is more likely, those who claim that they can compartmentalize FACT from FICTION are probably deluding themselves as to the effect on them, since people are generally piss-poor at self-diagnosis)" as a backhanded attempt to claim I am such a person, this despite the lack of evidence to support this claim and an ad hominem attack. Understand people, I am not saying no problem exists, just that in the greater scheme of things right now it is so far down the ladder of serious issues/problems needing addressing by America and Americans that to spend time treating this as a serious issue (as opposed to a lighter issue to cool off from dealing with the more serious issues) seems a bit foolish to me.

Posted by: Scotian on March 26, 2007 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe I just think too much, but I see the show as a psy-ops lite mechanism. It does a 180 on Wolpe's Desensitization theory and makes the notion of atrocity palatable. I am just afraid that things like this blur the lines just enough that we can lose our grip real fast and anything that advances that nightmare scenario is worthy of criticism at the very least.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C) on March 26, 2007 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

Diagram that last sentence. I dare you.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C) on March 26, 2007 at 2:57 PM | PERMALINK

Not even on a triple dog dare.

Cut to Ralphie with his tongue stuck to the flag pole.

Posted by: MsNThrope on March 26, 2007 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

MsN, were you here when I was talking about my son only dating girls who can diagram a sentence?

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C) on March 26, 2007 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

Yes. But I don't wish to date your son. He's a bit young for me, don't ya think?

Posted by: MsNThrope on March 26, 2007 at 3:42 PM | PERMALINK

Perhaps a tad...

But he is definitely one-of-a-kind. Quick-witted in seven languages.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C) on March 26, 2007 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

I think the show tracks a common anti-torture argument. Torture should not be the policy of the government of the United States. Also, that individuals will understand when that restriction needs to be ignored for the common good.

Posted by: Peter on March 26, 2007 at 4:08 PM | PERMALINK

The 'show' is about ratings. It's about selling deodorant.

I no longer have the least curiosity as to why Scotian reserves his replies exclusively to the most obvious and dim witted trolls.

But, I am a big fan of sci-fi and of Babylon 5 and BSG,/i> in particular so there might be a slight aspiration for dialog on that level.

Posted by: MsNThrope on March 26, 2007 at 4:17 PM | PERMALINK

BTW, if you follow political logic, David Palmer, Wayne Palmer and Wayne's vice president, the obviously hawkish Daniels (played by Powers Boothe) must all be from the same unnamed party, even though they seem very different.

So if you think the Palmers are liberal Democrats, then does that make Daniels a conservative Democrat? Does such a creature even exist?

Or, and here's a crazy thought, it's just a TV show where they toss stuff in because it makes a good story.

Posted by: Cait on March 26, 2007 at 4:29 PM | PERMALINK

"I no longer have the least curiosity as to why Scotian reserves his replies exclusively to the most obvious and dim witted trolls.

But, I am a big fan of sci-fi and of Babylon 5 and BSG,/i> in particular so there might be a slight aspiration for dialog on that level."
Posted by: MsNThrope on March 26, 2007 at 4:17 PM

With all due respect, I did not know I was under any requirement to satisfy your standard as to whom I chose to reply to and when. Perhaps you can point out to me where that rule is written to particpate at this blog, or for that matter who appointed you the person in charge of being concerned with such not to mention your willingness to make such specious claims without the evidence supporting it. What evidence you say? Just search through my posting/commenting history here and who I've responded to, you will find a lot of comments aimed at people I doubt you would characterize as dim witted trolls. Just ask Apollo 13, BG,RS/GC, howard, Gregory, cmdicely, shortstop, and many of the other regulars of how many times I have responded/conversed back and forth to them in the past if you don't believe me. You are making a seriously bad assumption here that is unsupported by the written record of my posting history at this blog. So this bit of yours is getting more than a little obnoxious, so either stop it or expect to be slammed for it every single time I see you raising it.

Give it a rest, will you? I could just decide it is not worth the hassle and stop commenting here, or is that what you would prefer, hmmm? If it is, I know there are many here that would not share than sentiment. So knock this nonsense off please, or there will be reperussions.

Posted by: Scotian on March 26, 2007 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

soullite,

You should read the actual text of the 25th amdnedment. Once the Vice President and Cabinent officer send the letter to Congress declaring the President incapacitate, the Vice President immediately takes over. After that, the President can write his own letter to Congress and reassume his powers unless the VP and Cabinent members send their own letter disputing his. After all of that happens then Congress gets 21 days to decide the issue.

The point of Season 2 was the VP only had to take over for a short time in order to achieve the desired foreign policy results: invasion of a Middle Eastern country. As we all are painfully aware, once you have troops on the ground it is very difficult to pull them out.

Posted by: UofAZGrad on March 26, 2007 at 7:06 PM | PERMALINK

Its not so simple that Jack appeals to conservatives and the Presidential politics is more liberal or that the hawks in the bunker are always wrong.

In Season 2, the democratic President was removed from office and the hawkish VP nearly blundered, but before that, the democrat President authorized the electrocution torture of a member of his cabinet who was witholding information.

That same character while helping the new President in Season 4 also authorized a black op by Jack to seize someone from the sovereign territory of China (their embassy or consulate) when he wasn't even the President anymore (though asked to assist by the bumbling VP turned Prez). The democrat President also authorized a black op before the start of the first season when he was apparently a senator (not believable, but it pushed the story along). That operation was essentially a hit job on a major Serbian war criminal who wasn;t going to be brought to justice. That led to the events of Season 1.

When reviewing all that, not quite as simple as the hawks are always wrong. I think the message is, sometimes patience is necessary, sometimes, it is impossible. What one hopes for from a leader is that they are judicious in their decisionmaking and are willing to do whatever is necessary to protect lives, but not be cavalier about the consequences of the more extreme measures that may be contemplated.

Posted by: Go McCain on March 26, 2007 at 8:20 PM | PERMALINK

I'm surprised anybody would take this show seriously as a political vehicle of any kind.
The politics are a backdrop and facilitating prop for the real premise of the series - namely, that anything can and will happen (probably in the next minute or two) in this fantasy world of counter-terrorism, heroism, treason, and painfully convenient story lines that are alarmingly predictable.

Also, there is something of a myth that this show is hugely popular. Last week, in had a total audience of about 12mm people in the US, which puts it in the range of a middling CBS crime drama. It has lost about 20 of its audience from the Season 6 premiere.


Posted by: Bruce on March 26, 2007 at 10:22 PM | PERMALINK

or there will be reperussions [sic].

You could at least spell it correctly. I mean if you're gonna issue empty threats and all...

Posted by: MsNThrope on March 26, 2007 at 10:29 PM | PERMALINK

Blowhard.

I tremble...

Posted by: MsNThrope on March 26, 2007 at 10:32 PM | PERMALINK

This is like arguing about whether the Cato Institute is conservative.

It's not; it's libertarian.

HOWEVER, 95 percent of Cato's impact is in the realm of economics, where it is far-right conservative (relative to public opinion).

24 has liberal and conservative moments.

BUT, its impact, as the Jane Meyer article showed in interviews and data, has been to make torture more likely by repeatedly depicting it as effective and done in the service of Good.

Posted by: Elvis Elvisberg on March 27, 2007 at 10:23 AM | PERMALINK

MsNThrope:

I may well be a "blowhard" and I know I am long winded as I have never claimed otherwise, but you are the one picking this fight, not I. Incidentally, the fact that your best rejoinder was to note my typo in repercussions does not make your case any stronger, if anything weaker. As I said before, it is not your place to determine why I chose to respond or not to any other commentator, anymore than it is the place of any other commentator to do so regarding any other commentator. Tremble or not, all I was doing is giving fair warning first, how you take it and respond is entirely your own decision, and the derision you have shown clearly indicates that you are not going to let this go. We shall see, but somehow I suspect the next time this happens it will be because you yet again tried to start/pick a fight because you don't like whom I chose to reply to. As far as this thread is concerned I am done on this point, you can reply or not as you see fit. I have satisfied my own honour code in issuing fair warning and you have chosen to be mocking of it, so be it.

Posted by: Scotian on March 27, 2007 at 12:47 PM | PERMALINK

The show is neither liberal nor conservative. It is a show that bases it's plot and action on politics and, therefore, includes both. While the "conservative" side is often represented by megalomaniacal presidents set on destroying the middle east or CTU agents who use torture to get information, it is often the peace-minded and equity-searching characters who prove to be right in the end.

However, we act as if torture didn't happen for the last 5,000 years until now, or at least since the Geneva convention. If you believe that, you are quite naive. Democrats and republicans have surely used it since Geneva, however, the Bush administration was just stupid enough to admit it to us. In the world of espionage and terrorism, people don't typically divulge information until they are forced to, and you really think that our or anyone else's government is beyond such tactics? Please, spare me.

As for 24 being liberal or conservative, I think part of the interest of the show is the fact that it consistently deals with the conflict of two varied points of view. Sometimes the conservative side wins out, sometimes the liberal. I wouldn't say it's a schizophrenic show, but is actually loosely based on how our political system really works.

Posted by: PsquirtP on March 28, 2007 at 7:51 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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