The Politics of 24

Posted Sunday February 11, 2007 by Nick Caldwell in |

I’ve mentioned before that I’ve abandoned 24 due to its wearying and constant delight in the aesthetics of torture. So the material in this article from The New Yorker comes as no huge shock.

For all its fictional liberties, “24” depicts the fight against Islamist extremism much as the Bush Administration has defined it: as an all-consuming struggle for America’s survival that demands the toughest of tactics. Not long after September 11th, Vice-President Dick Cheney alluded vaguely to the fact that America must begin working through the “dark side” in countering terrorism. On “24,” the dark side is on full view. Surnow, who has jokingly called himself a “right-wing nut job,” shares his show’s hard-line perspective. Speaking of torture, he said, “Isn’t it obvious that if there was a nuke in New York City that was about to blow—or any other city in this country—that, even if you were going to go to jail, it would be the right thing to do?”

And, in an age of endless moral panics about the psychologically destructive effects of violent video games, it’s disturbing that there is so little concern paid when a conservative media text’s depiction of torture are documented to have inspired actual cases of prisoner abuse in Iraq.

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