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Monday, February 16, 2009

The 24 Review: More on the Torture Allegory

After a very slow start to the season, the show is finally growing on. The show has regained its well known suspense and action. The scenes at the FBI are also now starting to create some of the inter office politics that adds its own suspense to the show.

This season's allegory on the ideological battle over the aggressive terror techniques employed by President Bush. Jack, himself, represents the Bush techniques. Jack has in every season done what he had to in order to protect the nation. He's suffered overwhelming personal loss and struggle as a result of his myopic pursuit of the protection of the nation. Yet, he's never had to face any serious professional action for his behavior. While he's lost jobs before, he's also always been able to find other jobs. This season his entire approach to being a spy is in question. In much the same way, Bush's tough anti terror techniques are face the same sort of scrutiny.

On the other side is agent Larry Moss. He takes the Barack Obama, dovish Democrat world view. He believes in strict adherence to criminal standards. Just as the Republican's losses in 2008 could be seen as a rejection of his anti terror policies, Moss sees Jack's appearance in front of Congress as a rejection of Jack's myopic pursuit of safety.

In the middle is Agent Walker. Agent Walker represents America's terror policies. Constantly Walker finds herself between Moss and Jack. She is pulled in both directions. So far, she continues to side with Jack, but it's clearly weighed on her. Could we see this as America's realization that Bush has gone too far? This is the sort of struggle that will continue throughout the season.

To fill out the allegory, we have Chloe. Chloe represents talk radio. Talk radio has, since the beginning, been in favor of Bush's anit terror techniques fairly uncritically. In much the same way, Chloe has always trusted that Jack was doing the right thing. That was clear in her impassioned defense of Jack to Moss in the middle of this hour. Bill can be viewed as Fox News. Fox News is generally in favor of Bush's tough techniques, but their is not nearly as unlimited or as uncritical as talk radio. Bill takes much the same approach as Fox News. Bill usually agrees with Jack's judgment but it isn't uncritical and unanimous.

What we are still missing are representations of some of those on the left. We should soon see representations of the nutroots, liberal Congress, and the MSM. We could see Ebaku as the terrorists. His girlfriend represents the American people. We are in constant danger and often we don't know just how close to danger we are. As Ebaku is about to attack his girlfriend, something that should happen early in the next hour, we will all ask just how far everyone should go to save her. That is of course not a simple answer, neither in 24, and certainly not in reality.


Anonymous said...

Last night's "Heros" posed that dilemma in its own way. Sen. Petrelli is running an operation to capture those with superhuman powers, given the danger they pose to the public. A woman representing DHS discovers one such person held in "torturous" conditions, denied due process. She is determined to shut them down until the captive escapes, "freezes" and kills a government employee before being recaptured. Mugged by reality, DHS liberal commits to giving the operation "whatever you need".

BTW, I gave up on "24". Too formulaic. There's always a conspiracy operating from amidst the good guys - FBI, police, even the White House - and thus no one to trust. The conspirators have unlimited resources and always seem to be one step ahead of the good guys. And the rare Islamic terrorist is either "reformed" - recall the Arafat-like "peace maker" who takes a bomb intended for the President in a previous season - or a puppet of some powerful white guy working in the shadows.

mike volpe said...

I agree that the government seems to always be compromised. That said, this is an alternative world. They present terrorists in their own way. They have had Islamic terrorists before. They aren't always "puppets". Rather, they have allies that aren't necessarily Islamic.

You can't please everyone but this show is the ultimate in suspense in any media. It is my favorite artform book, movie, tv show, painting, you name it. At its best, there is nothing better than 24, in my opinion.