Hollywood values: Redacted is fine, but 24 has to be “reinvented”
posted at 10:39 am on February 4, 2008 by Bryan
It’s not just the demise of the Three Little Pigs in England that ought to wake us up. And threats to free speech and expression aren’t just under threat in France’s red zones. Look at what producers have considered doing to 24, the only show on American TV that dares to depict the US as good guys and terrorists as bad guys. Or dared to, before Fox caved to CAIR.
Come spring, the show’s writers and their Fox bosses began having informal telephone conversations about how to recover for next season. By the May 21 season finale, the audience had dropped to just over 11 million. Fox gave the writers carte blanche to “reimagine” the show. One of the team’s chief considerations was how to address the controversy surrounding Jack’s use of torture. Should Jack be feeling the guilt the media would have him feel?
On May 31, the show’s head writers went in for a meeting at the studio to present their first big idea: sending Jack to Africa. In various incarnations, Jack would begin the season digging ditches, building houses, tending to orphans, providing security for an embassy or escorting around a visiting dignitary. “One of the themes we discussed was penance, that Africa was a place Jack had gone to seek some kind of penance. Some sanctuary too, but also penance for things he’s done in his life,” Mr. Gordon says.
This was being considered for the most hard core anti-terrorist show on the most allegedly conservative-friendly network on TV. I know that 24 executive producer Joel Surnow reads Hot Air. Hollywood must be a very lonely place for him these days.
24’s producers ultimately scrapped the Africa penance plot line because, well, it’s unbelievably stupid, but where they ended up is not all that much better.
The new season would introduce a female character, someone like Jack but at an earlier point in her career. Jack’s made certain choices and is willing to pay the price, but this character’s soul is still in play. “We decided that Jack is Jack, and these questions [about torture] are more deftly handled through a character who hasn’t been defined yet,” Mr. Gordon says.
The writers decided to scrap the Counter Terrorist Unit, the government agency for which Jack worked for the first six seasons of the show. Instead Jack would go to Washington to address head-on the accusations that his tactics were out of line. He will make his case. He has nothing to apologize for.
“For five years, this was a wish fulfillment show,” Mr. Gordon said. “At the beginning, when everybody’s fear was more acute, people’s tolerance for violence, their own rage, seemed to make Jack’s tactics more acceptable. But in the wake of our own abuses in prosecuting this so-called War on Terror, we feel Jack is getting a bum rap. So instead of selling out the entire show and its history and its legacy and apologizing for it and ultimately invalidating it, we decided to defend it.”
By saying Jack has “nothing to apologize for,” they’re saying in essence “We’re sorry but we can’t just unwrite all those tough things he did in the so-called War on Terror and we can’t just send him off to Africa so we’ll have him defend them.” This will give the producers the chance to write speech after speech denouncing Bauer, the CTU and the real war, but mostly the real war, and invent maverick Republican senators and liberal Democrat senators and cast them as the real good guys. There will probably be a “you can’t handle the truth” moment, but only to give Jack the chance to bellow before the whole thing comes to some weak and unsatisfying ending. And read between the lines and that female character will be played by Janeane Garofalo, moonbat extraordinaire. 24 not only seems to be going very very far from the norms and ideas that fueled its early seasons, it seems to be morphing directly into Redacted lite.
Speaking of which, by the way, there has still been no reported Hollywood soul-searching over Redacted or any of the other anti-war troop-smearing films that have been released in the past couple of years. Depicting the troops as rapists and war criminals is evidently fine with Hollywood; depicting a strong and ongoing response to terrorism, not so much.
As long as this attitude remains prevalent in Hollywood, long live the writers strike.