Monday, February 12, 2007

24, Cont.

At the risk of getting tiresome...

The people who make 24 aren't just making "art" or generic "fiction", though they are doing that. They are making fiction with an argument. And that's fine, and they have the right to do it. (Though I'll point out there's always the issue of public airwaves to consider...) Some of the best fiction I've ever read is explicitly political, though not GOP snuff porn.

The argument that the makers of 24 make, and have made, for 6 seasons now, is roughly this:
Evil brown people and unscrupulous women will endanger national security. Failing to kill and/or torture these people will cause Americans to die.
Now, I think you could -- and I say could very tentatively -- make a sincere argument for censoring 24 on the grounds of racial or gender equality, because it really isn't terribly subtle about it's racism, misogyny, or American political voting preferences for that matter. I don't think I could support that argument, but I don't think it's out of the question. Somebody more pro-censorship could take a go at it and probably make a decent case.

More broadly though, the one thing the makers of 24 cannot do is escape the paternity of responsibility. When you make a show that explicitly, repeatedly, argues not that torture is sometimes an undesirable mistake, but that torture is a necessary and frequent tool of the US government and this is a good thing, you can't then hide behind the cover of "art" and say "we're just making a show, we're not responsible for the actions of others."

I don't remember Ayn Rand ever hiding behind that excuse for The Fountainhead or Atlas Shrugged.

When Laura Ingraham or Rush Limbaugh refers to Jack Bauer and 24 in their pro-torture rantings, that's not them "twisting" art. That's them making exactly the argument that 24 makes every Monday at 9 on Fox.

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