Pundits on both sides of the political spectrum have themselves in a tizzy over Jack Bauer and his latest escapades with the hit action series 24.
Seems Fox and Bauer (Keifer Sutherland) kicked off the new season with a four-hour, two-part, premiere that ended with a suitcase nuke pulverizing Valencia, California.
Writes Hal Boedeker, TV critic of the Orlando Sentinel:
The disaster that ended Monday’s 24 was a gamble that producers took to ratchet up the terrorist threat and explore U.S. policy.
This is a spoiler alert: Actors and producers Tuesday talked about the new season with the Television Critics Association.
What about that mushroom cloud over a Los Angeles suburb?
“This was a tactical nuke, not a Hiroshima-size nuclear weapon,” executive producer Howard Gordon said. “There are mass casualties, but not in that scale. It was in an industrial part of Valencia. You do learn that it was a catastrophe on the scale of 9-11, and then some.”
Such an event has liberals crying foul, claiming Fox is serving as a tool of The White House to promote fear among the U.S. populace.
MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann launched a tirade against the show, saying 24 “featured a mall attack, a would-be suicide bomber on a subway, and a successful suicide bombing on a passenger bus. Not in places where these things have already happened, but in a country called the United States of America. In case you missed the point, the show finished up with a nuclear weapon detonating in a major American city, literally conjuring up the administration’s imagery for the war in Iraq, the good old mushroom cloud.”
Olbermann continued: “Is 24 propaganda? Is it fearmongering? Or is it a program-length commercial for one political party?”
Lay off the caffeine Keith. You’re starting to sound like a liberal Bill O’Reilly.
Conservative blogs urge their readers to watch the show, issuing ominous warnings that “THIS COULD HAPPEN HERE” unless Congress leaves President George W. Bush alone to fight his Iraq war any way he damn well pleases.
We’ve been fans of 24 since Jack Bauer waged his first war against terrorism six years ago. The series is, to be sure, mindless violence but it is also pure escapist entertainment. Bauer is like the coyote in the Road Runner cartoons — he comes back from explosions, beatings and even heroin addiction to fight on. Unlike the coyote, he manages to win in the end but, like the hapless animal, lives on to face more hardships.
But escapist action TV, or movies like the Die Hard or Lethal Weapon series, are just that — flights of fancy that have little to do with reality. It is no secret that Fox’s pseudo news channel is a shill for Republicans and rabid right-wing issues but its entertainment channel often exemplifies the very things that conservatives all too often rail against: graphic violence, explicit sexuality and mindless “reality” shows.
Shows like 24 are times to sit back in the recliner, munch popcorn, and get lost in the escapist world of TV. Nobody with an IQ above that of the average plant should take 24, or anything else on prime time network TV, seriously.