Monday, January 12, 2009

Reminder: 24 is a Fictional TV Show!

Kiefer Sutherland is saying words that were written for him in a script.

When someone in the show says something about following the law and states it in a very lame strawman way WHILE THE CLOCK IS TICKING it is still an actor reading lines. Lines that were written by three or four guys sitting in front of a computer.

Who are these guys? From IMDB this season.

Robert Cochran and Joel Surnow holding their Emmys. (Those wings look sharp, I wonder if they will be used as a weapon in season 7?)
Joel Surnow
(creator) &
Robert Cochran

Howard Gordon
(written by) &
Joel Surnow
(written by) &
Michael Loceff
(written by)

Now if you look at their credits, they've written some science fiction, some cop stories and some night time soap operas (Falcon Crest!). Click on the links to see what else they have written.

These men, the writers who created dialog and plots for Jane Wyman and Morgan Fairchild in Falcon Crest are doing the same for Kiefer Sutherland. They are probably aware that their program, designed to entertain, has had a profound effect on the acceptability and perceived necessity of torture.

By setting up and embracing the perfect situation with the ultimate hero they have given people a useful excuse that lets them embrace their most base emotions. Would they be horrified if they realized that they have created thousands of fans who use the show as a guideline for how to deal with people? Would they, like Mike Judge had to do with Beavis and Butt-head, be forced to remind the people:
Beavis and Butt-head are not role models. They're not even human. They're cartoons. Some of the things they do could cause a person to get hurt, expelled, arrested, possibly deported. To put it another way: Don't try this at home.

The original disclaimer in the first and second seasons shown before each episode was:

Beavis and Butt-head are not real. They are stupid cartoon people completely made up by this Texas guy who we hardly even know. Beavis and Butt-head are dumb, crude, ugly, thoughtless, sexist, self-destructive fools. But for some reason the little wiener heads make us laugh.
Now the people putting on the TV show 24" have no obligation to say, "Jack Bauer is not a role model. He's not even human. He's a character created my some guys we hardly even know. Do not really torture people like the character does. His deadline is fake! There really is no bomb! Please do not use this fictional TV show's character as your moral compass."

I don't know what the writers' real life moral touchstones are. They don't have to show them in their writing, either, but it would be interesting to find out. I don't know if they go to church or a synagogue on the weekend. I don't know if they are atheists or Buddhists. Did they study moral ethics in college or volunteer at a center for victims of torture in South America?

But when it comes time to discuss torture in America, how it is practiced, portrayed and supported we need to understand the world view created by these men. They have to be part of the conversation. They, in many ways are the largest driving force for solidifying many people's attitude toward torture.

I don't expect THEM to give my arguments against torture on their show. Why? Because they will do what wingnuts always do, throw out a weak argument and put it into the mouths of an unlovable character. That is how they satisfy their critics. "See, we had the FBI make the case for following the book, but it didn't work! The Terrorist got away when we followed the book!"

But dude, you WROTE THAT IT DIDN'T WORK. You wrote that Jack got the right info when he needed it from the right people. You could also have written it the other way. When you control the script you always have the last word. Please don't do me any favors and misstate my views in your script where you control the speaker, the argument and the outcome.

I'd write some more but "THERE IS NO TIME!"
boop beep boop beep.


Blogger TomR said...

Good post. Still enjoy the show, even though now I know it's fiction (wouldn't the fact that it's on FOX be the ultimate clue?).

Didn't they have one of those disclaimers before 'Jackass' so that the jackasses watching the show wouldn't try the same stuff? Perhaps they should've said, "Go ahead and DO this stuff!" It would've taken some of them outta the gene pool at the very least...

4:18 AM  
Blogger Chris Johnson said...

Did anyone see Glen Beck on Fox and Friends the other morning discussing torture? They actually used clips from 24 as a reference to having a "serious" discussion on issues of torture in the real world.

The level of discourse on this subject (and not only this subject) is quite sad.

7:28 PM  
Blogger spocko said...

I didn't, but I did hear about it. I wrote this the day BEFORE that happened.
I'm plugged into the wingnut Zeitgeist! Scary.

7:41 PM  

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