Cheat-Seeking Missles

Sunday, February 11, 2007

What Part Of "24" Don't They Get?

"It's unthinkable that Capt. Kirk would torture someone," David Danzig, the director of the Prime Time Torture Project for Human Rights First tells us in today's LATimes.

Well, maybe ... but it's hardly unthinkable that there wasn't a room somewhere on the Enterprise set up for some gnarly interrogation sessions. But that's not the point. The point is that Danzig and a group of others are in Hollywood, talking to producers of 24, Lost and other shows about the depiction of torture on TV.
The East Coast crowd didn't fly into town to pitch another quasi-military action series, but rather to advance a simple plea -- Make your torture scenes more authentic.

By that, they did not mean bloodier or more savage. Instead, they wanted "24" to show torture subjects taking weeks or months to break, spitting out false or unreliable intelligence, and even dying. As they do in the real world.

"We're not opposed to having torture on television, but 98% of the time when it is shown it's 'Bing, bang, boom,' and it works," said [Danzig] "Frankly, it's unrealistic and it's kind of boring."
Note to Human Rights First: Jack doesn't have weeks or months. The name of the show isn't 8,762 (the number of hours in a year); it's 24. Bauer's little drama is on the top of Danzig's list, with 67 scenes of torture, usually being carried out by or on Bauer, but at the show's torrid pace, I doubt if those scenes, spread over six-plus seasons, add up to more than two minutes of air time.

Before I forget the thought, what's with "Human Rights First?" If human rights is always first, what's second? Protecting the nation? Defeating enemies? Preserving free speech? Just wondering.

For the record, according to the conservative Parents Television Council, the number of torture depictions that worries them so is 624 incidents over four years, compared to 102 scenes in the previous seven years. Given the change that has swept the world since 9/11, that doesn't appear to be a particlarly large or unexplainable number.

I wonder if they count forcing pseudo-celebrities to eat fish eyes and bugs, as they do on Fear Factor, as torture? I mean for the people eating, not the people watching.

The torture-phobes at Human Rights First are also concerned that the torturer shown in the scenes is typically an "American hero," not, as the LAT noted, "the Nazis and drug dealers in pre-9/11 days." Of course, depicting Muslim torturers is another thing entirely, to be avoided at all cost, less the curs at CAIR take offense.

Toting this American hero line was Tony Lagouranis, who gained some fame by serving in Abu Ghraib and then attempting to leverage disputed claims of what went on there into a post-Army career.
Even in Iraq, such series can sometimes substitute for or trump military training, and transmit a dark message to soldiers.

"Everyone wanted to be a Hollywood interrogator," said Tony Lagouranis, a former U.S. Army interrogator at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq who spoke to the creative teams from "24" and "Lost." "That's all people did in Iraq was watch DVDs of television shows and movies. What we learned in military schools didn't apply anymore."
Watch out! Here come those military idiots again! John Kerry will be thrilled to learn that they're so stupid they can't tell an episode of 24 from an Army training manual.

If this is the case, then where are the armies of crime scene investigators? Why haven't they swept down on Hollywood full of concerns about the mis-depiction of their work on the various CSI shows?

Here's a PR tip, gratis: You don't go to Hollywood on a cause unless you're seeking publicity, and the lefty LAT is always there to pick up your cause -- no matter how far-fetched -- and give it a splashy headline and a ride on the national news wires.

Danzig, Lagouranis et. al. may have legit concerns about torture, but it's hard to separate that concern from a desire to discredit America and build animousity against the military, the war and our efforts to secure a safer world.

Your assignment: go to Prime Time Torture and take their poll. The question is: "Do you think mock executions, such as the one Jack Bauer staged on the TV show '24', would be legal under U.S. and international law?"

The question is "would be legal," not "should be legal," but who cares? On the fiction side, it's a mock execution, not real. It's a TV show, so consider freedom of the press and free speech. On the real side, if it's a guy who knows where the triggers for the next four nukes are, why not mock execute him? It's just putting the rights of us to live over the rights of him not to get all scaredy-pants.

Fortunately, as of the time of this post, 58.3% of us still felt that free speech and freedom still trump left-wing hysteria.

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