Did 24 Help Make Torture Acceptable?

In the wake of the Senate Intelligence Committee's report on C.I.A. torture, some have suggested that eight years of Jack Bauer helped make torture more acceptable to the American public.

24_on_fox.jpg

In the wake of the release last week of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on C.I.A. torture during the early years of the War On Terror, there has been much discussion about how the American people have seemingly come to accept the idea that there were horrible, possibly illegal, acts committed by agents of the American government in the name of protecting the nation from another 9/11 style attack. The perception that this was something that the American public would support has been verified over and over again in polling that was taken long before the report was released and, now, in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll that shows that a majority of Americans think that torture was justified in the wake of the September 11th attacks:

A majority of Americans think that the harsh interrogation techniques used on terrorism suspects after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks were justified, even as about half of the public says the treatment amounted to torture, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

By a margin of almost 2 to 1 — 59 percent to 31 percent — those interviewed said that they support the CIA’s brutal methods, with the vast majority of supporters saying that they produced valuable intelligence.

In general, 58 percent say the torture of suspected terrorists can be justified “often” or “sometimes.”

The new poll comes on the heels of the scathing Senate Intelligence Committee investigation into the CIA’s detention and interrogation program, which President Obama ended in 2009. The report last week concluded that severe interrogation techniques — including waterboarding detainees, placing them in stress positions and keeping them inside confinement boxes — were not an effective means of acquiring intelligence.

The report also found that more than two dozen detainees were wrongly held, that the program was poorly managed and that the CIA misled top U.S. officials about the effectiveness of the program.

Fifty-four percent of the public agrees with this sentiment, saying the CIA intentionally misled the White House, Congress and the American people about its activities.

(…)

Fifty-three percent of Americans say the CIA’s harsh interrogation of suspected terrorists produced important information that could not have been obtained any other way, while 31 percent say it did not.

(…)

In a CBS News poll released Monday, nearly 7 in 10 considered waterboarding torture, but about half said that the technique and others are, at times, justified. Fifty-seven percent said harsh interrogation techniques can provide information that can prevent terrorist attacks.

Both polls found a majority who thought releasing the report could jeopardize national security.

Numbers such as this have led many to wonder whether culture has had an impact on how Americans view the use of torture, and many of have focused on a a television show that premiered just under two months after the September 11th attacks themselves and, through eight seasons, came to epitomize for many a view of America’s counter-terrorism war where torture and brutality were a way of doing business:

I have three vivid memories of watching television in the fall of 2001. The first, of course, is of seeing the twin towers fall, which is an image most of us will never shake. The second is of watching Mariano Rivera throw the wrong pitch in Game Seven of the World Series.

And the last is of getting sucked helplessly into the premiere, just a few days later, of aninnovative drama called “24.”

It was that last moment I found myself revisiting this week, after I read excerpts from the Senate Intelligence Committee’s sprawling, heartbreaking indictment of American brutality around the world. It made me wonder, not for the first time, just how consequential a TV show can be at just the right moment in our national life, in ways we don’t always appreciate at the time.

Long before it came to resemble a parody of its own successful formula (“Wait a minute, did Jack Bauer just die and come back to life again?”), Fox’s “24” was that rare entertainment piece that reimagines the format. The show was groundbreaking not just because it introduced a real-time conceit to network television, meaning that every minute you spent watching the on-screen drama correlated to a minute in the actual world. It was seminal because somehow its creators seemed to anticipate turns in the culture that weren’t easy to discern.

(…)

More than any of this, though, “24” eerily foresaw, as if by some feat of time travel, the age of terror that would descend on America just weeks before the show first aired. The “counterterrorism unit” that must have seemed fanciful when the show’s pilot was filmed felt all too real by the time Bauer finally arrived on our split screens, a Christ-like figure in a world suddenly awash with evil.

To Jack Bauer, of course, the operative philosophy was simple: “Stop terrorists, by any means necessary.” The bosses at CTU were almost always timid careerists, the kind of regulation-obsessed bureaucrats who would rather sacrifice a stadium full of innocents than bend on the “protocols” they were always going on about.

Bauer and his rotating cast of enablers had no choice but to go rogue, which is why he generally ended seasons running from his own government or rotting away in prison. He didn’t like torturing terrorists, we understood, but that damn clock was always ticking in the corner of your screen, and neither he nor we had time for the legal niceties.

As a cornerstone of the popular culture during the Bush years, “24” established an important narrative of why we had failed to prevent the onset of terrorism — and why we might fail again. It wasn’t because maniacal people do crazy things that you sometimes can’t anticipate. In “24,” terrorists succeeded only when government lost its nerve.

I can’t say whether policymakers and intelligence officials in Washington were actually influenced by “24.” I have always suspected they were, simply because, no matter how assiduous you are about separating art from reality, human nature says you wouldn’t want to look in the mirror and see one of the spineless bosses at CTU.

At a minimum, you’d have to think that people making the hard calls in Washington drew some unspoken conclusions from the immense popularity of the show. TV-watching Americans didn’t seem put off by a hero who tortured terrorists; on the contrary, they loved him like Raymond. It was probably a short jump from there to the assumption that the political fallout from real-world torture, should it become public, wouldn’t be all that catastrophic.

What we do know, looking back now, is that “24” became, in some ways, a stand-in for the national debate on torture that the political class never wanted to have and that the rest of us never demanded. Instead of hearing this argument about morality and urgency play out in the Capitol or in the media, Americans watched the show and discussed it among ourselves, instead, in lunchrooms or online.

And to the extent that “24” framed that argument in the months and years after the fall of 2001, when imminent fear was a new fact of American life, the evidence seemed strongly weighted to one side. There were a handful of experts and critics who complained about the show andpointed out that, in real life, the efficacy of cruelty as a tactic — leaving aside the question of right and wrong — was far from settled.

But “24” had its own visual, visceral power, and the choice it established was clear. Did you want to be upright, or did you want to be safe? Did you want to be feared and firm like the Mossad, or did you want to channel Jimmy Carter and prattle on about human rights?

Brian Lowry makes a similar point in Variety, where he accused the show and of “liberal Hollywood” of “carrying water” for torture:

“24” was co-created by Joel Surnow, an avowed conservative. And it aired on Fox, a network owned by Rupert Murdoch, who has championed conservative causes across his media holdings.

Still, “24” later fell under the stewardship of Howard Gordon – a producer whose politics don’t mirror Surnow’s – and had to be developed and produced via a system involving layers of executives, many of whom support the left-leaning causes that bring a sneer to Rush Limbaugh’s face. And as conservatives are fond of noting, Republicans are outnumbered throughout Hollywood, including networks and studios responsible for some of the aforementioned projects, as well as all those movies with apocalyptic climate-change messages that many conservatives ridicule. (Heck, even the dragon Smaug complained about “liberal Hollywood bias” in his appearance on “The Colbert Report.”)

Does this mean the entertainment industry abandoned its principles? Hardly, since the main commitment is always to the bottom line, and the visceral appeal of torture – amid the pressure to ratchet up stakes and thrills – trumps any concerns about potentially helping to perpetuate a false narrative. Besides, a bullet in the knee moves the story along a lot faster than waiting around for someone to give up information through conventional interrogation methods.

Hollywood employs a pretty stock response in such situations, saying movies and TV are designed to entertain, not serve as documentaries.

Yet a series like “24” is grounded in reality precisely because that makes such life-or-death situations resonate. And because viewers generally don’t have first-hand experience in such matters (at least, let’s hope not), it’s understandable that their perceptions would be filtered through media – as the New Hampshire Union Leader did in an editorial flagged by the liberal watchdog site Media Matters, which said that Jack Bauer would consider champions of the Torture Report “wusses.”

Given all of that, it seems reasonable to ask whether pop culture — along with news operations whose “News Alert” headlines stoked post-Sept. 11 fears – has been partially complicit in cultivating the conditions that allowed torture to be deemed a viable option.

Speaking just for myself, I was a fan of 24 from the beginning right up until the end, and when it came back for the London-based miniseries this summer, I didn’t miss an episode, which given the way my viewing habits had changed in the four years since the show went off the air at the end of its eighth season. There were some seasons I enjoyed far more than others, some plot lines that I found either utterly annoying — <cough> anything involving Kim Bauer <cough> — or completely implausible and, when it did go off the air at the end of eight seasons it seemed as if the time was right. This was true not just because there were only so many times that Jack Bauer could save the world single-handed in a 24 hour period, and only so many plausible plot scenarios to drive a season-long drama series, but also because it seemed like the series had run its course. As many had observed when the show ended in 2010, the story of 24 in the end was as much about Jack Bauer and what he had given up to save his country. At the beginning of the series, he starts out with a family that is already on the brink of splitting apart due to the stresses of his job, indeed most of the first season is as much about Bauer trying to safe his wife and daughter as it is about the primary plot of an assassination attempt on a candidate for President of the United States. By the end of the final season, he’s a man without a country, and without a family, who had been told just a few years earlier by one of the few people who was still close to him, “You?re cursed, Jack. Everything you touch, one way or another, ends up dead.”

Yes, there was a lot of violence and indeed torture along the way, but it always struck me that there was a moral context to what was happening on the screen. Not only was it the case that it was usually the “bad guys” who were getting tortured, but we could see along the way that using this type of violence was having an increasingly negative impact on our putative hero. Now, perhaps, not everyone drew that lesson from the show but it was there nonetheless, and whether you look at the final scenes of the eighth season, or the final scenes of the most recent miniseries, you certainly can’t say that utilizing these methods of torture was something that had a positive impact on Bauer, or on anyone around him. Indeed, in the end, it seemed as though all it did was help to destroy the things that meant the most to him. That’s a lesson not too different from films like The Godfather, where the protagonist Michael Corleone saw everything he cared about most destroyed by the very means he was using to try to preserve them.

Additionally, despite the fact that I was a regular 24 viewer, I can’t say that the show ever really had a significant influence on my opinions regarding torture and its use in the War On Terror. Watching the series for some eight years certainly didn’t make me think that torture was a good thing, or that it was appropriate for the United States to be using methods such as those we saw depicted on television in fighting the War On Terror. While I can’t speak for the rest of America, I would suggest that the people who would blame a television show for either the policy itself or the fact that Americans seem to be generally okay with the use of torture in the wake of the September 11th attacks are placing far more importance on the impact of a show that hasn’t aired regularly in more than four years now. For one thing, while the show was critically acclaimed and received a host of awards and nominations during the time it was on the air, it’s worth noting that 24 was never really a “hit” show. It was only in the Top 25 in the Nielsen rankings for two of its eight seasons, for example, and for all but its first three seasons was often competing against much higher-drawing content such as Monday Night Football. To the extent it was a hit, it was a cult hit that survived in part by word of mouth, and in part because it was airing on Fox, which didn’t exactly have a lot of highly viewership shows on the air at the time. Given those numbers, it seems to me to be somewhat of a stretch to credit the show with having the kind of impact on American public opinion that the arguments above would attribute to it.

In the end, if you are looking for a reason why the American public has generally not been outraged by the revelations, both recently in the Intelligence Committee reports and in reports that have come out in the past, of the use of torture in the War on Terror, I would look to something far more basic than a television show. In the wake of the September 11th attacks, the sense of fear in the United States that more attacks were coming was palpable, and it has never really gone away. To some extent, this can be attributed to the news media hypes reports of terror threats, but I think that it can ultimately just be attributed to fear on the part of the public, fear that is stoked by politicians and law enforcement on a regular basis. How else can you explain the manner in which Americans have so easily accepted restrictions on their personal freedoms that many would have been screaming about just a few years before September 11, 2001? People complain, but we all dutifully line up to take off our shoes and belts before getting on an airplane, for example, and even the reaction to the revelations about N.S.A. spying has had only a limited political impact. Once you instill a sense of fear in the population, they’ll accept just about anything. Jack Bauer had nothing to do with that.

FILED UNDER: *FEATURED, Entertainment, Military Affairs, National Security, Popular Culture, Terrorism, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. C. Clavin says:

    I never watched the show…which I suppose explains my aversion to hummus butt.

  2. Jeremy R says:

    The protagonists in TV cop dramas have long been rewarded for illegal action in pursuit of the bad guys, which I personally believe has had a real impact on how accepting the public has become of abusive policing practices. The early 24 seasons took that paradigm and turned it up to eleven, where the hero engaged in comically over-the-line acts of torture and murder, and it often was instrumental in “saving the day”. You can clearly see its impact whenever a pundit, politician, judge or other public official directly references 24 when making real world policy arguments.

  3. Will says:

    Season 2 is the best season and probably the season that showed torture is an effective technique. Agent Simmons torturing Roger Stanton proved quite helpful. Syed Ali also broke too after the staged killing of his family. Jack used torture as a last resort only when imminent danger was apparent and time was short. The show helped show that post 9/11 was a new world and that our ideals and values had to sometimes change along with the times. That’s not me advocating torture, but just the message i got from being an avid 24 fan. Now, I have to watch the excellent Strike Back to get my 24 fix.

  4. anjin-san says:

    What would Jesus Jack Bauer do?

  5. To be fair to 24, I don’t recall much torture in the first couple seasons of the show. From the first season, I only recall Bauer’s interrogation of Ted Cofell where he repeatedly threatens Cofell with torture and punches him once (which he results in a heart attack), but that’s it.

    The second season opens with an unnamed prisoner being tortured in South Korea, presumably at the request of the United States government, and Bauer simulates the execution of one of Syed Ali’s children, but that’s it from what I can recall.

    Third season: Bauer threatens to put the daughter of the season’s Big Bad, Stephen Saunders, into a building with a biological WMD, but Saunders breaks before Bauer does so.

    By the fourth season (which aired starting in January 2005), I do recall a lot more torture being portrayed on the show, for example, in the first episode of the season, Bauer kneecaps a prisoner while interrogating him.

    But, by this point, Abu Ghraib had been in the news for over a year, so were political events following art or the other way around?

    UPDATE: Forgot about Roger Stanton during season two as Will pointed out above.

  6. Will says:

    @Timothy Watson:

    Season 2 has a number of torture scenes. Agent simmons tortures Roger Stanton and Syed Ali is tortured too before the staged accusation. I believe Marie also got tortured a bit when Jack kept pressing on her bullet wound.

  7. C. Clavin says:

    @Will:

    Season 2 is the best season and probably the season that showed torture is an effective technique.

    WTF? You realize it is fiction, right?
    Torture IS NOT effective.

  8. Will says:

    @C. Clavin:

    why are you in this discussion??? You had to jump in this article admitting “I never Watched the show” How can you comment on something you know Absolutely nothing about??! That’s my issue with you. Always running your mouth and needing to be heard regardless if you have any base of knowledge on the topic.

  9. Hal_10000 says:

    I watched the first few seasons, but I don’t think a TV show can have that much of an impact. I think this is something deeper. There is a very basic tendency in people to dehumanize the “other”, especially if that other is an enemy in a war. This is precisely why men like Washington and MacArthur were so adamantly against torture. They knew how thin the veneer of civilization is and how important it was not to scrape it too deeply.

  10. anjin-san says:

    @Will:

    How can you comment on something you know Absolutely nothing about??!

    He knows that fictional TV shows are, well, fiction. It’s not clear that you do.

  11. Will says:

    @anjin-san:

    Do you even bother to read articles anymore or do you just post your gibberish? This article is about 24. Have you watched 24? If no, STFU.

  12. anjin-san says:

    @Will:

    I’ve watched every season, it’s a good show. That being said, it was not important enough to me to carry a synopsis of episodes and seasons around in my head. Apparently it is to you. Perhaps you should turn off the TV and try and get out more.

  13. stonetools says:

    24 probably made torture look a lot easier and more successful than it is in real life ( Full disclosure: I never watched 24. I watched its British predecessor , MI5-which I recommend).
    In any case , it’s a TV show-which reflects, rather than shapes the zeitgeist. As far as I’m concerned, TV shows are entertainment and should be understood in the context. It’s the Bush Administration, not 24, who is responsible for torture.

  14. Will says:

    @anjin-san:

    Thanks for the advice. You sure do get out a lot yourself huh? Where do you find the time when you are always on here?

    I watched all seasons of 24 and am damn proud of it. I actually remember the episodes unlike you. It’s funny that you think I take it as an insult that i remember the episodes. It’s a good thing to retain information, but I guess some of us were unfortunately not built that way. So sorry for your limitations…

  15. michael reynolds says:

    @Jeremy R above has it right: it ain’t just 24, it’s every cop show where all the cop has to do is beat the bad guy up and get a confession.

    This isn’t essentially political, it’s not-very-good writers doing the lazy, easy thing. Got a plot point you can’t resolve? Torture! Yay! Mediocre writers and lazy producers. In the case of 24 they’re so boxed-in by their core decisions on format (24 hours) and a needfor momentum, that there’s no time for actual investigation or analysis, so: torture!

    One of the reasons I tend to like British and Danish cop shows is that the lack of guns and the adherence to actual procedure make the shows harder to write and thus better-written. A chimpanzee can write an episode that relies on torture or police brutality or a gun to resolve the plot.

    None of which absolves the public who really, really need to figure out that fiction ain’t real. Fiction’s just stuff that writers make up, very often because they’re on deadline and out of ideas.

  16. anjin-san says:

    @Will:

    You sure do get out a lot yourself huh? Where do you find the time when you are always on here?

    Well, there are these things called smart phones…

  17. anjin-san says:

    British and Danish cop shows

    Foyle’s War & Luther are both outstanding – highly recommend to any who have not seen them.

  18. Will says:

    @anjin-san:

    I saw Luther too.. Great. Also read the prequel book which I’m hoping they make.

  19. michael reynolds says:

    @anjin-san:

    I ran into Michael Kitchen (the guy who plays Foyle) on Charlotte Street in London a couple book tours back. (They usually put me in Bloomsbury/Marylebone area so Charlotte Street’s my go-to dining location.) He was sitting at the outdoor cafe of a hotel doing exactly what you’d hope to see an actor doing: reading a script.

    No, I did not ask for an autograph. I am unable to bother celebrities.

  20. Console says:

    I tend to think more about The Shield in when it comes to that time period. It didn’t really even make a pretense of the protagonists being good guys. The CRASH team was simply accepted as this rogue outfit that got results where other cops couldn’t. But the CRASH team was unquestionably just as bad as any gang on the street. The first episode makes that very clear. Jack Bauer was never a villain in the way that Vic Mackey was.

  21. anjin-san says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Foyle’s war is a real favorite of mine, I’ve had to discipline myself not to binge watch so I can stretch it out. American TV stars could learn a thing or two from watching Kitchen at work.

  22. Davebo says:

    @Will:

    I watched all seasons of 24 and am damn proud of it.

    And we are all real proud of you too!

    In a way that reminds me of people who list Internet Explorer on their resumes as software they have mastered.

  23. Will says:
  24. Will says:

    @Davebo:

    Thanks Dave. Your approval means so much to me. Now I can go enjoy the weekend. Have a good one

  25. Gustopher says:

    @michael reynolds:

    None of which absolves the public who really, really need to figure out that fiction ain’t real. Fiction’s just stuff that writers make up, very often because they’re on deadline and out of ideas.

    Unfortunately, that also describes a lot of what passes for news, so I can understand people making the mistake.

    Also, television images stick with you at a more visceral level than rationality. If you see torture breaking people and resulting in good information, over and over, even in fiction, it sinks in, even if you know better.

  26. DrDaveT says:

    Not only was it the case that it was usually the “bad guys” who were getting tortured […]

    If you think this matters, you’re already lost.

    Torture is wrong. Always. Regardless of whether the victim is an unspeakable monster or a saint. Regardless of what you think you are trying to protect. If you don’t understand this viscerally, you are not fully human.

  27. dennis says:

    I don’t agree that the TV show makes the culture. I believe the culture makes the TV show. Anybody watching a television program and concluding, “Yeah, I’m gonna live like that” is a moron.

  28. JKB says:

    Yeah, Hollywood pretty much has disdain for civil rights and the Constitution. Screws up the tempo of the story. Really, who’d watch a bunch of cops sitting around waiting for the guy’s lawyer to show up so they could ask questions?

    And 24, I only saw the first season, but I did find it amusing when someone pointed out that being set in LA, a third to half the show would simply be watching the back of the car in front of them as they tried to go somewhere in LA. Same with the Manhattan apartments of characters that there is no way someone with their job could afford.

  29. JKB says:

    This is an interesting take on the Enhanced Interrogation Techniques used, Torture ro Deprogramming?

    The most committed, the most brainwashed, are the cult leadership, the people who devise and plan these monstrous acts of killing. For murdering innocent people, as they did at the World Trade Center, their equally brainwashed subjects are lauded as martyrs who will be rewarded and welcomed into the afterlife. Their leaders cite their dedication and celebrate their entry into the paradise of perpetual pleasure.

    BTW, I know everyone calls it torture but doesn’t the top legal advice in the US government contradict that? Has that been overturned by a competent court to declare that the act were in fact torture under the statute?

    I know that will excite people, but the DOJ issued guidance that said the acts weren’t torture and as far as I know, no one has challenged that in court. So all those baying for prosecution might want to fix that little problem first. Nancy Pelosi, et al, should have challenged the legal opinion of the DOJ in court. Not produce a one-sided report that didn’t even interview those involved in the program.

  30. Scott O says:

    @JKB: Don’t be a dick. Simple test, do you think it’s a legitimate interrogation technique if it’s used on our soldiers? If not, it’s torture. This whole episode makes me sick.

  31. wr says:

    @Will: “I watched all seasons of 24 and am damn proud of it”

    Odd, I’ve watched all seasons of any number of shows, and it never occurred to me that this was something to hold up as a significant life achievement.

    Now I’ve written and produced many seasons of many shows, and that is something I’m proud of — even the bad ones.

    But to find self-worth in the act of watching a show? Man, the rest of your life must be pretty empty.

  32. wr says:

    @anjin-san: “Foyle’s War & Luther are both outstanding – highly recommend to any who have not seen them.”

    And here, my friend, I must sadly disagree. Luther is a fascinating example of an actor being so compelling and a role so perfectly written for him that he is able to completely conceal the fact that it is one of the dumbest shows ever written. Not so much the first seasons, which feature the glorious Ruth Wilson in that wonderful part, but every identical episode afterwards.

    And speaking of Ruth Wilson, have you seen The Affair? I think this eclipses both True Detective and The Walking Dead as the best thing on the air. Or on cables, anyway…

  33. wr says:

    @Will: What a shock that you fail to understand even the most basic facts about The Shield. The whole point of the show was the question of whether or not Vic was evil, because the theme was how much evil can a good man do in the name of fighting evil before he becomes what he’s fighting.

    So yes, the shooting of Terry WAS an evil act.

  34. anjin-san says:

    @wr:

    I’m almost done with season 2 of Luther. Will check out “The Affair”

    How about Honorable Woman? Robert Altman posted about it on FB yesterday, he seems to think very highly of it.

  35. anjin-san says:

    @wr

    I just finished season 2 of Wentworth – should I be proud? Maybe I can get some kind of certificate…

  36. Console says:

    @wr:

    This is exactly my thoughts. Luther is fundamentally the “Luthur & Alice Show.” Everything else is pulpy nonsense with high production values. But Luther and Alice…. man are they amazing.

    Although I think I liked Fargo better than True Detective.

    @anjin-san:

    The Honourable Woman is pretty good. It reminds me a lot of the first season of Homeland. The slow pacing, the multiple layers of secrets that get peeled back. It’s certainly worth watching.

  37. C. Clavin says:

    @Will:
    Seriously? You are accepting fiction as proof of something. Do you understand how…I’m sorry, there is no other word…stupid that is? I don’t have to watch anything to know that. I simply have to know the meaning of the word. Fiction, as apparently you are unaware, is any work that deals with information or events that imaginary; fiction is invented by the author. Therefore fiction cannot prove that torture is effective. It can only prove that the author wishes you to believe it is effective. Especially given the fact that torture IS NOT effective in the real world.

    Hey, Will…you won the Nigerian lottery…and if you just send me your bank info and SS number I’ll forward your winnings. Really. I saw it on a TV show.

  38. C. Clavin says:

    I saw dragons on Game of Thrones.
    Ipso facto…there be dragons…

  39. Will says:

    @wr:

    Your analysis of the shield is wrong. Check out Alan sepinwalls book or the av club before you inject your opinion as fact. Btw, what shows have you written and produced? Sounds like a whole lotta bullshit.

  40. Will says:

    @anjin-san:

    You sure watch a hell of a lot of tv for someone advising someone else that he needs to get out more. Just how many hours a day are you on here? Oh, I forget you make time to post on your smartphone while you are out leading your “Exciting” life. Maybe going to your second home this weekend. pathetic! you can’t even lie well.

  41. Will says:

    @C. Clavin:

    There’s a Job fair in NYC today. Get your lazy ass on Metro North ad stop sponging on society.

  42. charon says:

    @Will:

    Regardless of author intent, it is up to the audience what the show means.

    If I take something different from the show than you or the author, that does not make your analysis illegitimate, nor mine.

  43. C. Clavin says:

    @Will:
    See…that’s fiction.
    I’m a licensed professional in the 97th percentile of income. That’s fact.
    See how that works?
    Fiction v. Fact.
    It’s an important distinction in life. Try to figure it out.

  44. wr says:

    @Will: “Your analysis of the shield is wrong. Check out Alan sepinwalls book or the av club before you inject your opinion as fact. Btw, what shows have you written and produced? Sounds like a whole lotta bullshit.”

    Sorry, but I’m perfectly capable of analyzing a TV show without running to the “AV club” for footnotes. This is one reason why my book Wriing the Pilot has never ranked lower than #3 in its category at Amazon in the three years since it was published.

    Oh, as for a whole lotta bullshit:

    http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0704983/?ref_=fn_al_nm_1

    That’s a partial list of what I’ve done. Now who are you?

  45. Will says:

    @C. Clavin:

    why would i believe anything you say? @wr:

    I dont know or care if thats even you or you copied some guys IMDB page. Either way, I’m not impressed and it still does not make you an authority. I’ve met David Chase and David Milch and there;s nothing “you” have done that is even remotely interesting or ground breaking in television. Let me know if you ever do anything on the quality of 24, Shield, or Deadwood, and Ill check it out.

  46. Tillman says:

    @wr:

    And speaking of Ruth Wilson, have you seen The Affair? I think this eclipses both True Detective and The Walking Dead as the best thing on the air. Or on cables, anyway…

    The Affair is good from what I’ve seen, but I’ve read waaay too much Thomas Ligotti to regard True Detective as inferior to it. Plus one can never forget Cary “six-minute tracking shot” Fukunaga.

  47. Tillman says:

    @dennis:

    I don’t agree that the TV show makes the culture. I believe the culture makes the TV show. Anybody watching a television program and concluding, “Yeah, I’m gonna live like that” is a moron.

    It’s not that simple. The culture enables the creation of a TV show, but then the TV show helps shape the culture. And it’s not like one day you make a decision to have the mores of a TV character, but it does influence your opinion. Everything significant that the brain takes in and focus on becomes part of our thinking process one way or the other. It’s entirely possible there were people who saw 24 and were morally repulsed by the torture in it, and thus regard torture as a worse evil even though the show depicted it as saving lives.

    Still, 24 probably didn’t frame the national conversation like the quoted articles in Doug’s post claim. Modern day examples like Scandal that depict torture tend to be more brutal about it and with more ambiguous results, which I think shows the direction it’s heading in the culture.

  48. anjin-san says:

    @Will:

    I don’t think I ever claimed my life is all that exciting. When I was younger, it was more or less an ongoing party, but these days I enjoy listening to music, a good book, weekends in Mendocino when we can get away, hanging out in Berkeley, the aforementioned Giants game, and yes, a little TV. I get to do a fair amount of fun and interesting things that are work related. When I crave excitement, I have clients in racing, so I get some chances to get out on the track in some very cool cars.

    As for our other home, that’s not very exciting either. It’s in a retirement community, and my mother in law lives there. Someday we probably will as well. Two golf courses, my kind of place 🙂

    At any rate, I’m pushing 60, I have a kid who is severely disabled, and we have two elderly parents who need a lot of help too. So watching Foyle’s war is just about right for me a lot of nights.

  49. jukeboxgrad says:

    JKB:

    the DOJ issued guidance that said the acts weren’t torture

    If Bush’s corrupt OLC “issued guidance” saying that a dog is a cat, I’m sure you would believe that too.

    There is a long history of US courts treating waterboarding as a form of torture. PDF. We called it torture when the Japanese did waterboarding the same way we did it.

    Read the original memos issuing that “guidance” and you will notice that they never, ever mention this history, not even once. This is sufficient to prove that those memos are a joke. Like you.

    a one-sided report that didn’t even interview those involved in the program

    The clowns who fed you that dishonest talking point forgot to tell you that the interviews didn’t need to be done again because they had already been done. Link:

    … the report did draw from existing interviews of CIA officials … the committee had access to interviews of CIA officials that had been conducted by the CIA’s inspector general … The interview reports and transcripts included former CIA director George Tenet; Jose Rodriguez, director of the CIA’s counterterrorism center, CIA General Counsel Scott Muller; CIA Deputy Director of Operations James Pavitt; CIA Acting General Counsel John Rizzo; CIA Deputy Director John McLaughlin; and a variety of interrogators, lawyers, medical personnel, senior counterterrorism analysts and managers of the detention and interrogation program

    And if she had done the interviews over again, I’m sure your crowd would have lots of complaints about how it was wrong for her to do them over again. Heads you win, tails I lose.

  50. wr says:

    @Will: ” Let me know if you ever do anything on the quality of 24, Shield, or Deadwood, and Ill check it out.”

    Ooh, I’m not David Milch. Cut me to the quick there. Quick, while you’re on a roll, let Reynolds know he’s not William Stryron.

    So what exactly have you accomplished in your life? I mean, you’ve watched a lot of 24 and you’ve MET a couple of great writers. Have you actually done anything? Any professional accomplishments in any field? Anything you’re willing to stand up and cheer for?

    Odd how it’s the liberals around here who are willing to talk about their professional lives. Somehow not a single conservative is willing to talk about what he does for a living.

    (Except for Florack, of course, who loves to list his failures so he can blame them on Democrats.)

  51. anjin-san says:

    @ wr

    If you are in the mood to get yourself a little Christmas gift, check these out – great stuff:

    http://www.amazon.com/Stax-50th-Anniversary-Celebration/dp/B000KP62UM

    http://www.amazon.com/What-Funky-Soul-Grooves-1967-1977/dp/B000GIWS4W

  52. anjin-san says:

    @ wr

  53. anjin-san says:

    @ wr

    I tracked down some video of will @ work

  54. michael reynolds says:

    @wr:

    Quick, while you’re on a roll, let Reynolds know he’s not William Stryron.

    Hah! I’ve got a whole, long list of writers I’m not. Although, one of the few joys of Goodreads.com is discovering that at times I have more stars than Shakespeare, because really, what the f did he know about writing? I have a book called PLAGUE that at last check edges out a similarly-named book by some upstart named Camus.

    Ah, Goodreads, source of pain, source of pleasure.

  55. wr says:

    @anjin-san: To be fair, he’s far more likely the manager than he is Judge Reinhold…

  56. anjin-san says:

    @wr:

    Well, the manager is clearly proud of his uniform. Probably of all the episodes of “Dallas” he watched as well…

  57. bill says:

    i never saw a show- and watersports isn’t torture anyway. they got off easy if you ask me.

  58. jukeboxgrad says:

    watersports isn’t torture

    PDF:

    Affidavit of George Dee Stoddard 22 Oct 1945, Alameda CA (victim). “At about 12:00 noon Kita and Osano took Burton and strapped him to a stretcher and elevated his feet and then poured on his face so that it was almost impossible for him to get his breath. …”

    Explain how that’s different from what we did. I’ll wait.

    they got off easy

    We tortured innocent people. We tortured someone to death in a case of “mistaken identity.” You are making excuses for this, which means you are a sociopath.

    You also think it would be better if our government was able to do all this secretly, and you’re mad at the people who brought all this to light. This means that aside from being a sociopath, you are also a statist who hates the Constitution, democracy, and the rule of law.