Tuesday, March 03, 2009

24. Still Fiction. Live Strawmen! There. Is. No. Time!

Anyone watch 24 last night? I'll remind people that it is fiction. Like other pop fiction it solves a puzzle with a ticking clock, like the DaVinci Code or Angels and Demons. By its very nature it is pacey (As Ms. Featherstone would say). It is designed to get the heart rate up. You are there! What would you do?

The Writers and Producers are GODS

If you are the writer you are GOD. You can control the universe of your story. You can have characters you don't like die. You can have ideas you hate spouted by characters who are jerks. You can have your ideas WIN! It's a great thing. It can be very entertaining and VERY POWERFUL. The more that is RIPPED from the headlines the more real it seems. And if you aren't familiar with this world, you might think, "That must be the way it really works!"

A writer creates a problem and solves the problem. Sometimes a good writer will make the solution imperfect to make it seem that the solution might not work. But it does. And like a Dan Brown novel it moves you to yet another problem. Powerful men moving behind the scenes who want more power.

Mary Lynn Rajskub; Geek God on 24 as Chloe O'Brien"Stay at Home Mom"

"Live Strawmen"

Right now the show 24 is doing what some talk radio hosts do and creating strawmen to give what they say are the views of the liberal. And they put these words in the mouths of lead characters. This season the head of the FBI, the President and a Congressman are the Strawmen mouthing the anti-torture platitudes. They will be shown the error of their ways, the writers will ensure it.

I'll never forget this story from Democracy Now:

This past fall, the Dean of West Point, Brigadier General Patrick Finnegan, along with experienced military and FBI interrogators and representatives of Human Rights First, met with the creative team behind the hit Fox Television show “24” to tell them to stop using torture because American soldiers were copying the show’s tactics. We speak with two of the delegation’s members—former Army interrogator Tony Lagouranis, who served one year in Iraq and David Danzig, director of the Prime Time Torture Project for Human Rights First.


This season sets up more and better reasons to torture than you'll get in any John Yoo memo. Besides show the Live Strawmen just how important it is to torture. They use emotion and the "THERE IS NO TIME!" argument very effectively.

They have set up the President as being against torture. But she soon sees for herself JUST HOW IMPORTANT it is to TORTURE PEOPLE. Why? Because it works! Why does it work? Because the writers make it so! It really is quite a neat package.

How would you design a program to support your view point? As I've learned from countless weak rightwing folks, you give the "good guys" your argument and then show them spouting it as they fail miserably. Real live Strawmen!

Some people will say we shouldn't listen to Jack Bauer. Well look what happens when they don't! More dead! Is that what you want?! And of course the guy who was questioning Jack just doesn't GET IT. He doesn't see that Torture is their only hope! If only Jack would have been allowed to torture!
-What I think is the writer's theme behind this season of 24.

Jack called out that the lawmaker as WEAK. The ultimate manly slur. You are WEAK ON TERROR! Seeing Jack say it I envisioned men across the nation pumping their arms and going "YES! IN YOUR FACE Congressman Weakling."

There was only one tiny glimmer of hope last night in the case against torture. Bill Buchanan said that he wouldn't torture someone. His excuse was more practical, "I'm not trained in the techniques." Of course if only Buchanan had followed Jack's advice we wouldn't have been in this mess! But they always give us only two choices. And the choice to torture always wins, because the writers want it that way.

When the DEAN of West Point goes to the producers of 24 to tell them to knock it off you wonder whose values ARE they pushing? Who is the moral authority for the world view of 24? They have been told that it isn't helping the military, it is hurting it. They have been told it doesn't work. Lots of groups and religions have told them that it is just WRONG.

In a world of entertainment and puzzles you will do what you think will make for an entertaining story. That is usually your main criteria. Is it exciting? Funny? Moving? That is the goal. In the process you might get across other views. But as Joss Wheaton said in response to a question about his new show Dollhouse, if you are trying to push a feminist tract instead of making an entertaining show, then it becomes a polemic. And in most cases an entertaining show has more power than a polemic.

Should we DO anything about 24?

Well if the Dean of West Point can't get his message though, why bother?

Remind people that it is fiction. A fiction that contains a message rejected by our own military.

Just like the right loves to rail against the evils of liberal Hollywood, remember that this show is using Hollywood techniques to promote their message. And they DO have a message that is beyond entertainment although they use the entertainment effectively to deliver their message.

In the past the left have been more effective in entertainment in TV and movies and so their world view has been the one that leaked through. The producers have adopting the mantle of the thriller and tied it to a neocon message while IGNORING THE ADVICE OF THE MILITARY. If they wanted to be more realistic (and maybe just as entertaining) they could do the same story where torture didn't work.

Someone gives Jack the wrong info via torture , he acts on it and people die. By ignoring the wishes of the military they have shown that they are ideologically driven but the world view is not the military world view. It is the fantasy Conservative world view, the same world view that gave us George W. Bush and all his failed policies. It is the world view of Rush Limbaugh and Karl Rove.

I want to end with the funniest part of the show. Kiefer Sutherland at the end of the show is talking about how the production of 24 is GREEN! HA! His character is the poster child for the conservative view of torture and Kiefer pokes the conservatives in the nose to say that the show is green! That must make their blood boil, they hate anything environmentally friendly. Stop Polluting! There IS NO TIME! Do you think that Fox would sponsor a show where Jack Bauer went around torturing polluters? "You are killing the planet!" Somehow I doubt it.


Blogger Metro said...

"And like a Dan Brown novel it moves you to yet another problem."

Typo there, Spocko.

"And like a Dan Brown novel it moves you to yet another novel, written by someone else."

Fixed that for you.

3:54 PM  
Blogger spocko said...

thanks Metro, and thanks for reading. My "think" pieces are getting almost as long as a Dan Brown borrowed novel...

4:11 PM  

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