Propaganda? Is The Pope Catholic?
To coincide with the start of a new season of Fox's much vaunted 24 program, MSNBC featured a debate asking whether the lead character, Jack Bauer, was a right-wing propagandist. What the talking heads and others that defend the neutrality of the show consistently fail to omit is the fact that 24 cast and crew members met with U.S. government officials and Neo-Con ideologues to run PR for the war on terror last year.
Those that defend the show against allegations that it is merely fearmongering propaganda used to prop up the facade of the "war on terror" either point to the wildly unrealistic tone of the plotlines or to examples where it isn't always Muslim jihadists behind the terror.
We can go back and forth all day discussing the intricacies of the plot, instances where the oil cartels are sponsoring the terror or certain individuals within the government turn heel and become bad guys. The majority of the American population do not watch entire episodes back to back for a whole day like some unfortunate souls choose to waste their time doing. The important aspect to make a judgment on is the impression that the show leaves as a whole and certain contextual storylines that are repeated in almost every episode.
This is what you come away with from catching a few minutes of 24, be it channel surfing or watching trailers - terrorists are everywhere and terror attacks are inevitably going to increase in both number and severity in the United States. The only way to stop terrorists is to violate the U.S. Constitution in a plethora of different ways and torture people into making confessions. In the current season, concentration camps are built to detain suspects.
No matter which way you slice it or dice it, that's what the average American gets out of 24.
Little surprise it is therefore that the U.S. government has chosen to attach itself to the show, a trend mimicked by Neo-Con ideologues.
In June 2006, Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff joined a panel of 24 cast and crew members at a Heritage Foundation event that was moderated by none other than hillbilly heroin popping Neo-Con talk show walrus Rush Limbaugh. Limbaugh put the morning forum in jeopardy when he planted a kiss on the lips of 24 actress Mary Lynn Rajskub, causing the media in attendance to almost projectile vomit their breakfast.
The conference also featured numerous self-described national security experts and even Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. You can watch the two hour event by clicking here.
The scope of the event was supposedly to discern if 24 was like real counterterrorism efforts, which is like making the argument that Teen Wolf is an accurate portrayal of the NBA. Everyone knows 24 is over hyped and overblown but that's not the point of this debate. The more telling aspect of this visit was when Chertoff embraced and praised the actions of the characters fictionalized in the show as an example of the kind of dedication Homeland Security should be showing towards fighting terrorism (including presumably season one's patriotic scene where our hero Bauer cuts off a villain's head with a hacksaw).
We have Limbaugh tonguing the lead actress and Chertoff lauding the virtues of the show in a public speech - and yet some still argue it's not Neo-Con propaganda! What do they need as proof? George Bush having Kiefer Sutherland's baby?
Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld have both publicly praised the show as one of their favorites, but to have Chertoff give the opening speech at an event that used the popularity of 24 as PR for the war on terror, provides no clearer conclusion than the fact that the Bush administration loves 24 - because it feeds the fear.
It's a completely unjustified fear that can be ridiculed with the knowledge that peanuts and accident causing deer kill more Americans every single year on average than acts of terror and the fact that there's a September 11 death toll equivalent on U.S. roads every month.
The show is also embraced by Bush bootlickers such as Laura Ingraham, one of a gaggle of press whores recently invited to the White House to get their orders, who told Fox News that the average American's love of the show is a referendum for "tough tactics" (torture) against anyone considered to be with "Al Qaeda" whether they be American citizens or not.
In addition to tacit spoken approvals from Bush admin bigwigs, big budget film and television productions that make use of government and military facilities, technology and hardware have to acquiesce to on-site narks who vet the script and demand that changes are made unless the relevant agencies of the state are represented in a positive light, and there's no reason to conclude 24 is any different.
Whether by accident or design, 24 is indoctrinating a generation of Americans into believing that the future of the country will be characterized by paranoia, fear and mass terror, and that the only way to combat such chaos is to give the government unlimited power to "protect" us. Only the government itself can benefit from such brainwashing and that's why the Bush administration and 24 are joined at the hip in a coordinated propaganda assault against the American people.
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