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January 12, 2007

Can TV Critics Ever Turn Off Their Liberal Ninnying?

Let's face it. Those who can write for the MSM, do. Those who can't, write TV criticism for leftist amateur webzine Slate.

So we have a bunch of frustrated wannabe-pundits denied their chance to shine on the op-ed pages.

But the dream will not be denied; they instead work in their scintillating political commentary while reviewing, say, BJ and the Seven Lady Truckers.

I don't get the whole 24 thing myself, so this is not the anger of a fanboy talking. I don't really like the show. I find it as as contrived, and implausible, and predictable as this idiot does. The cliches of the show that even fans acknowlege (as being fun cliches) I just find kind of lame. Dave From Garfield-Ridge is amused that Jack Bauer "just doesn't have the time" to do anything; I just don't have the time for Jack Bauer not having the time.

And yeah, I also don't have the time for setting perimeters or maintaining opsec or downloading profiles onto PDA's or all the rest of it.

But that, of course, isn't why this whiny little he-bitch doesn't like the show.

One Nation, Under 24

Can Jack Bauer exist only in a decadent superpower?

By Troy Patterson
Posted Friday, Jan. 12, 2007, at 6:07 PM ET

[A letter sent to critics by 24's producer] also refers to Jack as "our Everyman," which is rather bizarre. Everyman isn't the first term most people would reach for to describe an unkillable supercop who often takes his orders straight from the president. If Jack Bauer is an everyman, then so is James Bond. Does Gordon mean to say that Jack is every regular guy's ideal of courage? The empowering fantasy of all-American male rage?

He begins with a fair, if churlish, point -- Jack Bauer is an "everyman" only in a world populated by only by Captain Kirks and Doc Savages and John Carters and other family members of the Wold Newtonverse -- and then of course spins it into a nutporn caterwaul about male rage. Taking a trivial bit of sloppy hype in a stupid publicity letter and just going all Gordon Ramsey on it.


There's depth to 24, but it's all in the violence—the sight of an actual everyman who, unwillingly drawn into the terror plot, beats a man to protect his family; the sound of a terrorist explaining himself to a former friend: "It's not what I want to do, it's what I have to do. I'm a soldier." Other people hold that the show has substance to it just because it makes regular twitches in the direction of the Fourth and Sixth Amendments. The coming season will keep the president's sister, Sandra, busy as the nation's conscience: "I'm not some idealistic flag-burner … but once you start ethnic profiling, it's a slippery slope," and, "I wanna fight this, bring attention to the civil liberties that your administration has allowed to be violated," and "Blah blah blah blah blah." This talk is tedious but essential to the drama's success—not because 24 wants to entertain actual consideration of the issues, but because Jack's got to be fighting for something. The show is so dense with incident and relentless in its momentum that you don't get to see much of the actual America, just its passenger cars and cellular phones. Sandra shoulders the responsibility for hauling out the cardboard signs that evoke its principles. The faux seriousness also provides cover for fans looking to dignify the fact that they get their jollies watching explosions and bloodshed.

Meanwhile, I'm curious: How many other cultures have shows on the order of 24 and Sleeper Cell—programs that convert blasts of terror into pops of corn? Does it happen in places where things blow up with some regularity? Do they unwind with such stuff in Tel Aviv or Thailand? Has Penélope Cruz ever slipped into a cat suit to battle Basque separatists? Or can an everyman like Jack exist only in this decadent superpower?

Um, how many other countries feature nonstop programming more up your alley, like Queer Eye For The Straight Guy, The Christopher Lowell Show, Blow Out, America's Next Top Model, The O.C., etc.?

Dude, there's a whole range of entertainment options out there apart from We, O, and Bravo. Sorry that it bothers you so much, but some of us knuckledragging troglodytes just wouldn't enjoy watching Will & Grace and Frasier repeats 24 hours per day.

24's Politics: Is 24 rightwing, as most snotty lefties, and most conservatives, assume?

Well, let's look at last season, whose plotline was lifted directly from Loose Change and Fahrenheit 911.

A weak, corrupt, and somewhat dim President, in order to create a pretext for invading a country and getting his energy-company buddies rights to build a Trans-Caspian oil pipleline, directly commissions acts of terrorism on his own country, resulting in the deaths of numerous Americans, and blames it on Swarthy Foreign Types in hopes of ginning up plebian bloodthirst for his unwise and unconstitutional illegal war of choice.

And, of course, the season concluded with Jack Bauer advancing on this weak, corrupt, dim Miserable Failure of a President, to arrest him, or, if his thuggish Praetorian guard prevented that, possibly assassinate him, because only he and small cadre of The Enlightened know the Horrible Truth (the evidence has been destroyed by Men in Black, you see), but, fortunately, the Attorney General moves in to arrest him and cart him off in disgrace for his chimpeachment hearings.

This is rightwing? To whom?

The Unibomber?

I'm reminded of a Siskel & Ebert exchange about the Dirty Harry series. One said the series was "fair" in terms of politics, as Dirty Harry skewed hard right, Magnum Force skewed left, and then The Enforcer skewed right again (and also skewed very crappy). The other objected to the term "fair," saying it's not that the series is not "fair" so much as so wildly extreme in both directions that it's sort of hard to peg it as having a consistent politics at all.

24 does that. Its only consistent political message is "Jack Bauer is always right, Jack Bauer kicks major ass, and Jack Bauer just doesn't have the time to wait for you to reposition your KH-11 spy satellite."

But this show does have a recurrent political message that really ought to make left's e'er-bleeding hearts pump with love. That is -- if they really saw terrorists and evil, and truly wanted them defeated.

Think about it: What is the basic plotline of every season?

America, essentially in a reactive posture against terrorism, catches wind of a terrorist plot at the last possible moment, usually almost precisely 24 hours before the Big Bang and often indadvertantly (i.e., not through proactive means and certainly not via military adveturism).

There is no need of messy invasions or pre-emptive unilateral military actions; America always gets lucky, just in time, and finds out it's about to be hit.

At this point law enforcement personnel move with incredible speed and unerring instict to thwart the plot by using, by and large, conventional law-enforcement techniques such as wiretapping, bugging, tailing, and simply reading files, and are always able to stop terrorism without ever leaving American soil (or, indeed, moving 30 miles beyond Los Angeles), and all without violating the national sovereigty of a single tyrannical foreign hellhole.

Indeed, every 24 episode could close with the declaration, No kite-flying children were harmed in the making of this production.

Isn't this the way terrorism is supposed to be fought in the collective fantasia of leftists?

Shouldn't they appreciate the coded political messaging here, i.e., "John Kerry had it right all along"?

Or is that they simply object to fighting terrorists in any way, even in the ways they claim they support?

Chloe, The Bitchy Randian: 24 does have, I admit, a light libertarian theme, embodied in the delightfully-pissy Chloe, a passionate adherent of the "Government should leave me the hell alone" philosophy.

Her government-off-my-back poltics are on display every week, as even the most reasonable request by the Government, also known as "her employer," to do the job she's being paid to do sends her into into a brow-furrowing, sass-snapping snit. "I do not recognize the authority of the Government to order me to do anything except that which I have voluntarily contracted to do," her angry eyes flash each episode, "and even when it comes to the latter, I am not at all happy to be the Government acting like The Boss of Me, even if it is, technically, The Boss of Me."

But apart from this Dagney-Taggart-With-Perpetual-PMS objecitivst heroine, I'm not seeing the strong "rightwing messaging" in the show.

digg this
posted by Ace at 09:13 PM

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