Sunday, 11 February 2007

Why I Can't Stand 24

There are many, many reasons to dislike the TV series 24.

First off there are always the evil foreigners who are threatening the land of the free (usually vividly underlined by various blonde women being abducted by said foreigners). I can't think of another TV show that so consistently paints people with strange accents and varied skin tones in such a bad light.

Secondly there is the bizarre depiction of African American family life. Yes, the show was "ground-breaking" in having a black American president, but one look at his highly dysfunctional family would seem to suggest that the writers of the series seem to subscribe to the view that while a brother can get out of the ghetto, you can't get the ghetto out of a brother. His daughters is raped by a friend, his son is a killer and his wife is a cruel, vindictive gold digger. For good measure, his brother is scum too.

But the ultimate reason for my dislike of the series concerns how wonderfully effective and efficient the use of torture always is, in the fight against terrorism. One can't help but feel that it is precisely this attitude that leads to events like these.

Now of course it is always a Momentous Decision when the hero decides to use torture, and there is always a clock ticking away bringing some terrible terrorist catastrophe closer and closer to fruition. But in every single season, time and again, torture proves to be the only way to defeat the bad guys. While they are being tortured (or in later seasons, when their wives or children are being tortured) the villains first hold out with bravado, claiming that they will never talk, however, a few telling blows, electrocutions, bullet holes etc. later and they sing like canaries. The Vital Information is revealed and the day, eventually is saved.

Of course we've all the heard the "ticking bomb" argument in the American media that was used to justify the legalisation of torture. But unfortunately 24 tactics don't always seem to be very effective in real life.


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