Tuesday, January 23, 2007

“24 is to conservatives what The West Wing was to liberals”

I mentioned last week that I wanted to write a piece about 24, which I started watching again this season after having only watched the first few episodes of season one and then missed everything else. However, during my daily procrastination I found an article on imdb talking about a CBS News blog which discussed the controversy surrounding Fox’s non-singing hit show. Apparently many TV critics across the country have decided that 24 is right-wing propoganda, with the Milwaukee Sentinel Journal’s Eugene Kane saying that “24 is to conservatives what The West Wing was to liberals.” Now I found this interesting for two reasons. First, after watching the 2-DAY, 4-HOUR SEASON PREMIERE OF 24 I have become a huge fan of the show. However, I also really liked The West Wing, so what does that make me? Second, I can’t figure out what it is about 24 that these columnists believe makes it popular with conservatives. The first point is probably more a matter of taste and therefore not really what I want to talk about here. The second point though has something to it and that’s what I want to discuss.

Suffice it to say, I didn’t go out and read all the critics work regarding 24, so pretty much all of what I’m saying here is speculation, rather than fact. So far as I can tell from the imdb piece though, the claim that this show is preaching for the right wingers all comes from the fact that the hero of the show, Jack Bauer, played somewhat robotically by Kiefer Sutherland, often resorts to torture as a means to acquiring useful information in his war on terrorism. The problem with arguing that a show which highlights the value of torture in fighting terrorism is right wing is that President Bush and pretty much every member of his party that I’ve ever heard speak on the issue of torture doesn’t go around saying that torture is the best weapon against terrorism that we have. I will admit that the president certainly hasn’t spoken out against torture and has claimed that American interrogators do use “alternative” methods for extracting information, but I wouldn’t say that this is therefore a characteristic of a right-winger. Just because the President says we sometimes torture prisoners to fight terrorism doesn’t mean that he thinks its right and it doesn’t mean that the conservatives in this country think its right. So honestly, it baffles me to suggest that conservatives are for torture. I don’t want to sound like Rush Limbaugh or one of those wackjobs on Fox News, but really, isn’t this kind of a left-wing conspiracy to make conservatives look bad? And aren’t they only saying this because 24 airs on Fox? Am I the only one who thinks that if this show aired on NBC that people wouldn’t even begin to make up this nonsense?

Here’s the other problem with the argument that 24 is a show for conservatives, and not liberals; this show is most certainly supporting liberal ideas. Now I can’t speak to the past of the show, because like I said, I didn’t watch virtually any of the show before last Sunday’s premiere. But at least in this season the show is speaking out against ideas that would certainly be associated with the current administration’s handling of the war on terrorism. One of the big issues that the show has dealt with so far is how the country should handle Muslims during a time in which Islamic extremists are attacking the country from within. There is a character on the show who plays one of the President’s top advisors and he is always pushing for more internment of Muslims in America and more suspension of civil liberties as a way of trying to restore order in a country filled with chaos. Now these are ideas that I would relate to more conservative politicians as there are several that have been essential in passing legislation such as the Patriot Act and that have allowed the President to detain suspected terrorists without cause for any length of time and without right to council. The thing is though, the advisor presenting these ideas is not shown to be a smart individual who is doing what’s best for America, he’s presented as a total creep. There is no way that anyone could like this guy, even if you thought we should round up all of the Muslims and deport them. And I think that that is the key here. How could a show that makes a semi-villain out of the person who wants to extend the things that our President and our government are basically doing right now be considered a piece of right-wing propaganda?

Arguing that “24 is to conservatives what The West Wing was to liberals” would be like saying that I’m a conservative because I believe in fiscal responsibility, even though all of my other beliefs are generally thought to be liberal ideas. Or it would be like saying that I’m a Michigan Wolverines fan because I want Michigan to be undefeated when they play Ohio State, even though the only reason I want that is so that we can humiliate them and ruin their season. My guess is that most of these critics are just trying to fulfill their deadlines and they basically stole someone else’s argument to save time. Or they’re complete morons.

On an unrelated note, the Oscar noms were announced today and my predictions were way off. But I’ll wait until tomorrow to talk about that so that you can have a full day to process the nominations on your own before having your opinions completely changed my persuasive arguments.


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