Fox torture porn, an introduction

by fp on June 28, 2010

in Propaganda,War and Peace

…if you sit in front the fucking boob tube five days or more per week and let this garbage – and I don’t care if it’s “right” or “left” garbage – pour all over your soul, what the hell are you doing to your brain? What are you conditioning yourself to?
– Yule Heibel, “No wonder we’re hosed…

“Jack Bauer is a true patriot.” That’s a statement overheard from a conversation between two politically-naive guys a few years ago, a sentiment that blurs the boundaries between a real person and a fictional character. For eight years Fox Television, a tentacle of the “entertainment” branch of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, administered a steady dose of adrenaline via the pulse-pounding weekly drama of Jack Bauer and his fight against evil-doers. In a self-congratulatory press release distributed March 26, News Corporation said, “While the series gained global recognition, Sutherland’s portrayal of the legendary character [Jack Bauer] penetrated the American psyche like no other dramatic television character to become part of the English lexicon.”

Whatever. Kiefer Sutherland as Jack Bauer sure punished a whole bunch of bad guys. One premise of 24 was that there are among us some people, like Jack Bauer, whose integrity and moral compass are so true that they may be permitted frequent ethical lapses in order to combat evil. The show served up this message on a fist-to-the-face blood and guts pizza with a side of soft core S&M. Every episode contains bondage scenes, men and women with their hands bound behind their back, gagged, tied to a chair, cuffed to a railing, immobilized face on the floor with a boot between the shoulder blades. Every episode contains brutality and physical torture, some inflicted by government employees with medical kits and electric shock devices, some by agents using fists, blades, bullets and makeshift tools like 120 volt AC. The bad guys, of course, duplicate the entire panoply of pain, terrorizing the country and avenging themselves on their enemies.

Another important premise of 24 was that in American diplomacy “the end justifies the means,” and the means are administered by extra-legal methods through the agency of a security apparatus, the Counter Terrorist Unit. Justice Brandeis would have been appalled:

Decency, security, and liberty alike demand that government officials shall be subjected to the same rules of conduct that are commands to the citizen. In a government of laws, existence of the government will be imperiled if it fails to observe the law scrupulously. Our government is the potent, the omnipresent, teacher. For good or for ill, it teaches the whole people by its example. Crime is contagious. If the government becomes a law-breaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy. To declare that in the administration of the criminal law the end justifies the means—to declare that the government may commit crimes in order to secure the conviction of a private criminal—would bring terrible retribution. — Justice Louis Brandeis, Olmstead vs. the United States, 1928

24 seeks to advance the argument that indeed government MAY commit crimes to achieve a greater good. Whether the terrorists intend to kill millions through release of a virus, or by melting down nuclear reactors, delivering nuclear warheads to an urban center by launching a missile or carrying in a suitcase, every righteously fearful person must agree that justice can be compromised if it will save American lives to do so. Characters in the 24 narrative who oppose torture and a suspension of human rights are painted as cowards, or–at best–hypersensitive women who can be expected to shudder at the sight of all those compound fractures.

Next: Fox Torture Porn, the Women of 24

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{ 3 comments }

Doug Alder June 28, 2010 at 2:33 pm

I watched every season of 24 except this last one. I have to admit I liked the format, as opposed to the content – and that’s an essential part of the problem with 24 – the format runs at such a fast pace that you must be glued to the screen intensely throughout or you will likely miss a critical turn in plot that will leave you wondering htf did they get from A to C without going through B. All the better to implant their right wing message into your brain.

At the start of this season I made it through the first 30 minutes and I haven’t gone back even though I have it all, in hi-def, on my PVR.

Norm Jenson July 1, 2010 at 6:20 pm

I’ve never watched a single episode and likely never will.

fp July 3, 2010 at 9:44 pm

I just finished watching my 137th episode (#17 of season six). In this episode, Jack followed the bad guy by hanging on to the undercarriage of a garbage truck that the bad guy had commandeered. I know I’ve seen this done in dozens of B movies, but usually on a railroad train or a stage coach, maybe the occasional dump truck full of gold bullion heisted from a Federal Reserve Bank. First time I’ve seen the trick performed under a garbage truck…

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