"24": Are You a Fan? Should I Be?

I have only ever watched most of one episode of the hit series "24" on Fox. Based on that one episode, and its apparently tacit approval of torture, I am not a fan. But maybe I just need to know more of the context? Would I be a fan if I watched more episodes? I'm afraid I would be, simply because I would have become addicted to it.

I have military friends who watch 24 religiously. I was talking to some of my co-workers yesterday about 24, and

Maybe I wouldn't be so worried about Bauer's antics if they didn't match reality so closely.

they love it, too. My physical therapist says that it's his second favorite show besides Lost ("Lost" drives me bonkers by the way; I'd rather go shopping at Wal-Mart on Black Friday).

The other night I tuned in to the first episode of 24 season number 7, and I did not like what I saw.

Jack Bauer was being interrogated by some Senate committee. When asked whether he tortured a supposed terrorist named Ibrahim Hadad, he smugly replied, "According to the Geneva convention...yes...I did."

When asked whether he had detained Hadad without due process, and whether he had used extreme interrogation methods on him, he proudly replied "yes, sir", and he said that he had "probably" broken procedure.

The situation under which the torture had occurred was that a busload of 45 people, ten of whom were children, was about to be blown up, and Bauer knew that Hadad knew who was going to do the bombing. So he tortured him. And he saved the children.

24 seems to be--based on the one episode I've seen, as well as what I've heard other people say about nuclear bombs hidden somewhere in Los Angeles and other such truck, a series about "ticking time bombs" None of these scenarios is likely to ever happen, but what I'm afraid of is that most watchers of 24 have been or will become convinced that these things are likely to happen in a terrorism-saturated world, and that therefore Jack Bauer is justified in using any means to thwart these supposed likelihoods.

In other words, Jack Bauer is above the law--and most of us seem to be proud of it.

Maybe I wouldn't be so worried about Bauer's antics if they didn't match reality so closely.

Did I catch the essence of this well-produced but very dangerous program? Or am I way off base?


  1. "I'd rather go shopping at Wal-Mart on Black Friday"

    That's a strong statement. I don't think anything would make me prefer shopping on Black Friday.

    I have no personal opinion of 24 or Lost specifically. My opinion is that I'm very happy to never turn on the TV except to watch movies I have chosen to buy or rent.

  2. No, and no.

    I stopped watching in season 2, when they started torturing someone in literally every episode-- in the "24" world, that's one new torture session every hour!

    I call the show "The Fox Festival of Torture."

  3. Nice nickname for the show, rmwarnick.

    I'm not a fan of the show; my reasons are stated here. But what can you expect from the network that brought you "The Moment of Truth". Rubbish.

  4. I watched pretty faithfully the first couple seasons, then only sporadically after, though I did watch almost all of last season. I think anyway, it seems like it was decades ago that it last aired.

    And I like it. Most of the time it's like going to the movies and watching an action flick.

    24 gave us our first two black presidents, our first woman president, and a great "evil Dick Cheney" vice president. So it can't be all bad.

  5. My wife and I watched the first season. The concept of the show (24 consecutive hours) was intriguing, and the plot was pretty well-crafted and compelling.

    But we only watched a few episodes before giving up on the second season. Some concepts only work once before they become gimmicky and formulaic. And yes, the theme of the show became less about moral ambiguity (a legitimate topic, one which I think Battlestar Galactica has done a good job of exploring) and more about ends justifying means and jingoism.

  6. I suppose the latest season of "24" is realistic in one respect. Jack Bauer proudly confesses to violating the anti-torture statute, and gets away with it.

    The law provide penalties of 20 years in prison for each offense, and the death penalty if a torture victim dies.

    In the real world, President Bush and VP Dick Cheney have also publicly confessed to breaking the law on torture. So far, no consequences for them either.

  7. I have never seen 24 or Lost or any of the TV shows most people talk about. I pretty much don't watch TV for entertainment. I have neither the time nor the inclination to do so.

    Based on what has been written, I agree with Richard, that it is good at least that Bauer came clean and appeared willing to accept the consequences of his actions.

    But, as Richard suggested, when negative consequences are lacking, there is little disincentive to the behavior other than personal honor and integrity. Some people still think that's important.


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