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“24” Is A Conservative Show Because It Advocates Torture

So asserts Kevin Drum of The Washington Monthly:

So this is yet more fodder for the fire: is 24 an inherently conservative show because of its message that torture is necessary, torture works, and only weak-kneed liberals object to it? Jane Mayer reignited the debate last month with a piece in the New Yorker that investigated 24's conservative roots.

At a broad level it's hard to argue with this, though not, I think, specifically because of 24's routine dramatization of torture — which has become more a crutch for weary writers than anything else in recent seasons. It's more general: 24 is a tough-guy cop show, and tough-guy cop shows have appealed to conservatives for decades. Jack Bauer is basically an updated version of Dirty Harry, the poster boy for conservative backlash against urban crime in the early 70s.

So sure: 24 is a conservative Disneyland. But there's another side to the 24 story that's surprisingly liberal: its politics. There are, after all, really two stars in 24: Jack Bauer (when the action is on the ground) and the president of the United States (when the action shifts to politics). In Jack's world, being a tough guy works. In the president's world, it's exactly the opposite.

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