Tuesday, January 09, 2007

What propaganda does “24” have in store this season? 

Rightly or wrongly, the American temperament is most accurately captured through popular entertainment. Pop culture tells us what middle America thinks, and what corporate advertisers (and Washington) consider acceptable. In today's increasingly Orwellian America, particularly in terms of politics, pop culture -- “water cooler” talk -- serves as more of a reality than reality itself.

As previously noted, the Fox action series “24” has served as a cultural benchmark for years. The series, which hit the air waves shortly after 9/11, served for years as a blatant and enthusiastic purveyor of the Bush administration's most strident fear-mongering “war on terrorism” propaganda, complete with racist depictions of violent Islamic zealots, torture-as-acceptable, outside 9/11-type threats to the US homeland coming from all directions -- evil denizens of the Middle East, Russia, and China.

Yet, last season (see "24" reflects a betrayed America), the series did something of a 180, reflecting the new national distaste for the Bush administration. The show's main villain that had to be taken down was the president of the United States, a murdering, Constitution-destroying Bush/Nixon lunatic fronting for a neocon cabal, manufacturing terrorism and setting up 9/11 catastrophes in order to control world energy. (Not far from the truth, this time.) For these themes to be permitted on prime time television spoke volumes about the national consciousness.

What, indeed, does “24” have planned for 2007? Initial rumors suggest that America will remain under attack from every direction, with major cities blowing up at the hands of both outside “terrorists” as well as war-manufacturing Washington politicians, who are also hell bent on making the US into a police state. It appears that China-baiting will also remain a central theme (the Jack Bauer character was kidnapped and tortured by China at the end of last season). In other words, “24's” America is completely existentialist nightmare, worse than ever.

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