The United States Military Academy at West Point yesterday confirmed that Brigadier General Patrick Finnegan recently travelled to California to meet producers of the show, broadcast on the Fox channel. He told them that promoting illegal behaviour in the series - apparently hugely popular among the US military - was having a damaging effect on young troops.I dunno, I have seen maybe two episodes of this show, and I just didn't enjoy it. I felt that the show and it's message was the product of extremely right-wing folks, and some of the racial stereotypes were offensive. I worry that shows like this have a seriously negative effect on the viewing population, keeping them more on edge, more apt to fear the "other", and more likely to overreact to perceived threats (see the Boston/Aqua Teen Hunger Force hoopla).
Turns out, it's affecting our troops in Iraq, enough to convince them that the torture of enemies may be acceptable. Now, I haven't seen the episodes in question, but I am not surprised. From what I have seen, the show often takes the side of "security" over "freedom" as if that is some sort of black and white dichotomy.
There are numerous examples of the right-wing using scenes from "24" to strike fear and well, terror, into the hearts of Americans. Of course, "24" is just a TV show, and to ascribe it such power may be going overboard.
However, when Americans pay less and less attention to the news and more attention to everything that is FOX, its clear how "24" could have a negative effect on our public discourse when it comes to protecting against terrorism.
Update: Joel Surnow, co-creator of "24" is a real winner. From a $2000 donation to Rick Santorum (lol) to his explicit support of torture, he certainly deserves no progressive support.
Surnow, who once jokingly described himself as "a right-wing nutjob" (you'd never guess) and made, in October 2006, a $2,000 donation to the doomed and almost comically reactionary Pennsylvanian senator Rick Santorum, finds the accusations ridiculous. "I think a lot of these people haven't seen the show or bothered to get into it properly, because 24 is so filled with these complexities, that for people to say that it's liberal or conservative is really missing the point. I mean, we have this character Assad this year who is a terrorist who has renounced terrorism and wants to start the peace process with the west. That's not left, right or centre, that's just another interesting approach to terrorism. You could argue every side of it. If wanting to stop terrorism makes you patriotic, then I guess we're patriotic. But you're right, it's a slow news day. It'll dissipate in a day or two."He's also the genius behind FOX news' "conservative Daily Show." Good luck buddy. Now that he's dramatized the torture of detainees, perhaps he can make it funny.
Surnow's take on torture in the show, and in the war on terror, is a little more controversial. "I think torture does work. It would work on me! I believe torture has been around since the beginning of time because it works. I just think that for any person in the circumstances that Jack Bauer is in, you'd be a fool not to. If someone's family was going to be killed in 10 minutes unless you tortured something out of somebody, they would do it. A lot of these experts, people in the human rights field, will tell you it doesn't work, it may not work, that there may be more humane ways to get information out of people, and I believe that, but in our show, if you have 10 minutes to stop a nuclear bomb, tell me what you're going to do. I mean, it's unrealistic, and it's not how the world works, but we're not purporting to be the world, and we're creating our own little world. And we're not saying it's good, bad or whatever. We're saying, tell me what you would do. I would bet there are a lot of soldiers fighting wars, on all sides, in all sorts of conflicts, under pressure when the bullets are flying and wanting information, who do all sorts of things. And I don't want to know about it. I just want to be safe. We're just exposing a little of what maybe does happen. The military hates it. People call us a conservative show, but the military will tell you they never use it. We use it as a last resort."