Wednesday, March 10, 2010


24 appears to be on the way to cancellation in this, its eighth season.


This show, whatever its quality, has caused so much damage to the national torture debate. How many times has some sort of torture been shown, nay, glorified, on 24? How many times has torture been portrayed as the only possible thing that might work? How many times has the torture victim been portrayed as immediately giving up correct information, as opposed to reality, when much more often they will simply say whatever they think we want to hear, if they say anything at all? How many times have we been presented with "ticking time bomb" scenarios that are not even remotely realistic in places up to and including Presidential debates?

More to the point, if there actually IS a ticking time bomb, note that if you have the wrong guy, he won't know any more than you, and if you have the right guy, he knows he only has to keep you guessing for a set amount of time, knows you don't know where the bomb is and can't verify anything he says without sending people to wharever you say, and can just deliberately send you on wild goose chases far away from the bomb. If the bomb's in Long Island, send the investigators to Yonkers. By the time they figure it out, the bomb will have gone off anyway. If there's a ticking time bomb, and you don't already pretty much know where it is, it's too late.

Besides, if your guy's the right guy, and has been told in advance that you're an evil person who will do them harm, and you show up with a taser, they know what to do: suck it up and say nothing, say nothing but name/rank/serial number, or stall you with wild goose chases. But if they've been told you're an evil person, and you show up with a cookie-- wait, what? Why is there a cookie? I was told there would be no cookies! Now what do I do?

And of course, this says nothing about the moral cost of the whole enterprise. You have a guy who's at your mercy, you're not entirely 100% positive that he's actually done anything, and you want to deprive him of sleep and make him think he's drowning and generally smack the guy around, that's on you. Not me.

No comments: