24 Day 8: Some Pre-Season Thoughts

A lot has happened since the last season of 24 aired. Barack Obama has become president. The war in Iraq has increasingly fallen and its associated scandals and shortfalls have also fallen out of the American conscience. Americans remembered we were fighting an unwinnable war in Afghanistan, then promptly forgot about it. The economy has continued to fail a vast number of Americans.

While Obama was elected with a popular mandate and a landslide in the Electoral College, uncertainty about the future remains high. Obama's election has brought out some of the most radical elements of American culture. A new mainstream movement collectively known as "Tea Bag Patriots" have made major inroads with conservative politicians and media personalities. The Teabaggers have helped water-down or derail every piece of progressive legislation Obama and the Democrats have tried to pass.

Worst of all, The Militia Movements, which dominated the radical right in the early 1990s, have returned stronger than ever. Conspiracy theories about FEMA detention camps, black helicopters, and The New World Order have once again returned to popular media. The radical right has been speared on by false claims about Obama's birth certificate and religion into a near frenzy.

This is the context through which viewers will be watching 24 when it begins in late January 2010. In the previous season of 24, we saw that, once again, 3rd-World warlords are nothing more than a front for American Military contractors. General Jumba was nothing more than a pawn to further the interests of the shady group called "The Circle". As we also learned, The Circle had its fingers in every plot since at least Season 5. This upcoming season finds Jack Bauer once again taking up the torch when terrorists strike New York City. While the focus of this writing will be to the track and analyze the representations of torture, I will also track the often slippery political ideology of 24. The ultimate goal is to understand what Jack Bauer stands for, and, more importantly, who he represents. This goal is a far more tricky thing to track. We cannot simply count the number of times someone tortures. We have to understand what motivates both the torture and the terrorism.