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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    The 24 controversy

    The hit show 24 follows Jack Bauer, played by Kiefer Sutherland, as a member of the L.A. Counter Terrorist Unit. He stops bombs from exploding and assassination attempts, all the while keeping the audience hooked.
    The hit show “”24″” follows Jack Bauer, played by Kiefer Sutherland, as a member of the L.A. Counter Terrorist Unit. He stops bombs from exploding and assassination attempts, all the while keeping the audience hooked.

    Viewers didn’t even have to wait 60 seconds before tension arose in the sixth season premier of Fox’s hit drama “”24.””

    The show opened with Americans milling around TV sets on the streets of downtown Los Angeles. Citizens watched in terror as the news covered countless terrorist attacks that took place in the weeks leading up to “”Day 6.”” A brown-skinned man was not allowed to ride a bus. The bus blew up shortly after.

    But some claim the show is provoking fearful racist behavior.

    Many viewers say it’s becoming difficult to distinguish the truth in “”24.””

    “”After watching that show, I was afraid to go to the grocery store, because I wasn’t sure the person next to me would be able to differentiate between fiction and reality,”” said Rabiah Ahmed, spokesperson for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in Washington, D.C. on CNN.com.

    Critics have said that even for channel-surfers, viewers will usually be greeted withthe “”terror-everywhere-must-torture-thousands-of-lives-at-stake”” theme.

    “”One of the most devastating things that’s happened on that show has been the narrative that torture works,”” said documenter Robert Greenwald on Keith Olbermann’s “”Countdown”” on MSNBC last month. “”(A)nd we’ve seen the results of torture; it doesn’t work and you get false information. That is where the show does a disservice to the people.””

    Olbermann also said the show works only as a catalyst of fear for the Bush administration’s war on terror.

    The torture debate has been around since the show’s first season, but what really raised the bar this season was the successful nuclear bomb detonationin a Los Angeles suburb.

    The show’s writers do not seem bothered by how the people responsible are Muslim fundamentalists. The show’s producers have had run-ins with Muslim lobby groups like CAIR before, so pushing this political hotkey doesn’t seem to be a problem. Two years ago, CAIR voiced concern to Fox executives after the premiere of “”24″”‘s fourth season, which revealed Muslim fundamentalists’ role in terrorism.

    Eventually, the show decided to air a pubic service announcement done by agent Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland). In the message, Sutherland says, “”While terrorism is obviously one of the most critical challenges facing our nation and the world, it is important to recognize that the American-Muslim community stands firmly beside their fellow Americans in denouncing and resisting all forms of terrorism.””

    CAIR has again left messages on Fox answering machines, demanding the show portrays Muslims in a more positive light. But does Fox really have that obligation?

    Producers, writers and even fans of the show argue that viewers should understand the show is a completely made-up world. Also, they point out that the majority of the terrorists on the show have not even been Muslim.

    Bauer has wrongfully become the iconic American hero, the show’s creators said.

    The show attempts to illustrate his methods and reasoning for doing things that might arguably be necessary in real life; it does not attempt to justify them. If this were so, it wouldn’t destroy a man like Bauer from the inside out.

    Many characters violate the Constitution. Bauer knows this; the mastermind sends a civil-rights attorney to defend a terrorist against improper interrogation for the purpose of silencing the client. No one on the show stopped to question if what they “”wanted”” to do to the man was right or wrong; they merely saw it as an inconvenience that they couldn’t torture him right away.

    Perhaps the lobbyists and critics, in old art-school fashion, should just back off and let “”24″” do its creative thing. Or maybe the writers should indeed be more aware of the influence the show has on people.

    In any case, the stakes can’t get much higher on the show after a nuclear bomb goes off in Los Angeles, so we can only hope that the line doesn’t stay blurred forever. Otherwise, we have a serious problem.

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