Friday, 12 November 2010

Why Studying the Television Series '24' is Relevant to Understanding American Culture

In my presentation I show how the keywords 'War' & 'Patriotism' (especially Extreme Patriotism) fit within the context of 24. Then I shall address the controversy of torture and whether torture can be seen as patriotic. To Americans Jack Bauer is a hero because he loves his country, but then patriotism is at its most powerful in the US. There is no doubt of Jack’s devotion to his country, time and time again he does whatever it takes with no regard for his own life. He has every reason to hate the United States, but he keeps putting his life on the line for it, almost like a robot with no ability to resist the call of callous heroism. However, like the great villains of fiction he has a terrible side to him, a side that allows him to torture and murder without guilt. In more peaceful times Jack Bauer would be considered something of a thug as he has a nasty habit of shooting first and asking questions later. Jack is a civil libertarian's nightmare whose predilection for violence and rejection of established law enforcement procedures and policies would ordinarily make him a candidate for prison overalls rather than the cult hero he has become. But it would be a mistake to underestimate the powerful hold that Jack has on our emotions as we follow his adventures week to week.

The main questions I bring to my presentation is, Is torture acceptable in a post 9/11 world in accordance to the 'ticking time bomb theory'? Especially in relation to what is happening today in Afghanistan.


  1. The idea of torture as a method of information gathering the 'civilised' world is an interesting topic.
    It is posible to argue that terorrists have no issue with using torture but should we lead by example and refuse its benfits, or play the terrorists at their own game?
    Even in a post 911 world, the idea of using torture is a dangerous and slippery path to walk and with provide an interesting topic of study.

  2. With terrorists ever changing tactics on how to harm or kill, the question ‘how far would you go for your country’ is an interesting and thought provoking question.

    For Jack, although he appears not to trust anyone, he is still willing to believe enough to save the citizens of America, in any way he can.

    Also the question is whether is his risking his life, because of some personal torment from his past and either wants to a clear conscious or to end it for good.

  3. 24 is highly interesting when looking at American society post 9/11, the question about torture is almsot impossible to answer and what really goes on we will never actually know.
    The debate over the use of torture will be ongoing and its vailidity in getting questionable as Geni argued in her presentation; after enough torture a suspect will tell you what you would like to hear.
    Jack bouer represents patriotism, he looks like the all American hero, fighting for the people risking his own life, but like Jo says is this not for some self fulfillment? if so what is 24 saying about patriotism, in the way it is represented.

  4. I think the reason 24 is so successful is because it allows individuals to justify torture. Had this been a real life account of torture, it is entirely possible that the world would have been disgusted and revolted by the USA, but in a fictionalised world Bauer is seen as a vigilante or perhaps a Robin Hood style figure to an international audience.

    24 is distributed in many countries outside the US, perhaps it could be said then that the power of a high budget, high concept programme has the power to blind intelligent and dilligent audiences who are not neccessarily affected by the innate patriotism of an American from the harsh facts of reality, persuading them that perhaps the man with the robes and "fancy headgear" in fact deserved it?


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.