A.R.Yngve's "Notes Toward Becoming A Better Writer": On "24"

Thursday, June 07, 2007

On "24"

I didn't watch all of the first two seasons of 24... just enough to get a feel of it. What annoyed me most back then wasn't so much the idiot plotting...

(24 Subtext #1: All terrorism takes place in Los Angeles.)

...but the show's apparent hatred of black women really bugged me: When exactly one (1) black woman appeared in the show, she was invariably a deceitful, evil backstabber.

(24 Subtext #2: There is one (1) black woman in the entire city of Los Angeles, and she's Evil.)

In later seasons, the one (1) black woman disappeared (and from then on, you couldn't spot a single black woman in L.A. -- you know, just like in the real world!).

But the reliance on torture escalated. That's when I stopped watching 24, because I thought, "OK, I get it: the whole idea is that Jack Bauer Gets To Torture Someone."

(24 Subtext #3: Torture is an effective way of making people be honest. They will never say just what they think the torturer wants to hear.)

Just now I had a brief look at the latest season of 24, and I was appalled. It had gotten even worse: Now Jack Bauer has a torture kit.

24's basic premise is to glorify torture as necessary to "protect democracy" and "protect the innocent." If you truly believe that, you are not just morally corrupt but quite ignorant. No democratic nation was ever founded on torture. (But plenty of real-world dictatorships rely on torture as an instrument of oppression.)

As I've noted before, there is such a thing as evil stories. 24 is certainly not the opposite of those.

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