The Jack Bauer Conspiracy

Recently, Ambrosia posted about government and torture and I congratulated her for being more up on current events than I am. I have heard news about our government and torture, though, and I've come to an astounding discovery.

Last night I put in an episode of 24 because I miss my boyfriend Jack Bauer (I tried to reconnect with him in The Sentinel but it just didn't do it for me). And during this episode, I watched as a suspect was interrogated by someone who was not Jack Bauer. The interrogator couldn't get anything out of the suspect. But Jack, believing that the suspect had very time-sensitive information, broke into the interrogation room, pulled out his gun, and started yelling at the suspect. The suspect didn't give up any information, so Jack blasted a cap into the guy's leg. As the guy was screaming and as Jack was sticking his gun into the wound to make it hurt more, the suspect gave the information that Jack was looking for. It turns out that Jack and the good guys were seconds too late to stop the bad plan from happening but gosh darn it, Jack got the information.

I'd love to see the stats on how many guys Jack Bauer tortures on average per 24 hours. Let's not forget that episode where Jack gets a guy out of prison, shoots him dead, and cuts off his head so that he can take it to go undercover and prove to some bad guys that he's a bad guy, too. And we ("we" as in 24 fans) watch this stuff and we love Jack (and if we're anything like me, we love Jack and want to have his killer babies). We love him as he breaks all the rules. We love him as he goes against government protocol because Jack makes things happen. I've heard it said that if everyone just did what Jack Bauer told them to do, the show would be called 12.

Allow me to quote a little from Wikipedia:

Bauer's behavior and actions are consistent with the philosophy "the ends justify the means". When innocent lives are in danger he behaves as though obtaining a desired result is more important than how he obtains it, and he frequently performs controversial actions if he thinks they will achieve an important goal. His philosophy was perhaps best expressed after he shot and killed a witness in front of George Mason, then-CTU Special Agent in Charge. George expressed dismay at Jack's extreme action, and Jack replied: "That's the problem with people like you, George. You want results, but you never want to get your hands dirty." Lying, torture, stealing, and even cold-blooded murder are all viable options to Jack, a stark contrast to the vast majority of fictional heroes. Comparisons with the very people he battles are inevitable. As stated by George Mason in Day 1, "Rules don't apply to Jack Bauer. He does what he wants, when he wants, and he doesn't care whose life it affects."
So the question: Is 24 actually a government plot to get people to support the government's right to do whatever it takes to get the job done? We love and praise Jack Bauer for what he does, and whatever measures he takes during torture, they always yield accurate results. We never see the victim of torture confess something that is not true just to escape the torture. We just see Jack Bauer doing what he does and getting results.


daltongirl said...

You offer a compelling argument, and ask an even more compelling question. But I still agree with Ambrosia 100 percent on this one. I only wish I had had the intelligence to write her letter to the president, only I don't think he reads my blog, so it wouldn't have done any good. Also, I prefer to sit around saying things like, "the sound of Dubya's voice makes my skin crawl," without actually taking any action.

kirsa said...


Heh...during any given episode of that season, Jack will walk in, tensely ask whoever the current suspect is a few questions, and then he'll start yelling the above phrase and taking the extreme actions to get his answers. It happens so many times that Veng and I will now randomly be talking to each other and then one of us will start shouting "WHERE IS THE BOMB?!!" until we both bust up laughing.

Back to your actual point though...Jack is a weird character. I don't like him, because, well, he has no problems torturing and murdering people. But I do like him, because, well, he always saves the world (or at least the United States, which could lead into a whole tangent on the United States' view of itself as being the most important part of the world and other such things).

Jack kind of reminds me of Sayid and various other characters from Lost. They keep doing all these things that make me mad at them, and then they 'redeem' themselves by things turning out well, or by doing something good, or by showing compassion for one of the other characters. They do all these bad things, but they're presented as still being good people.

I don't know if 24 is a secret government plot to get people to support its actions or not, but it (and Lost, too), both seem to be trying hard to get the point across that people can do terrible things and still be good people (unless, of course, they're the "bad guys" whose actions are never really justified for us...except for the couple of bad guys who have been coerced into being bad guys due to their exterior motives and change their minds about being bad guys partway through). None of which seems to refute your secret government agenda theory. But, I haven't seen Season 3 of 24 yet, so I will have to wait and see what happens.

Stupidramblings said...

Yes, it's a conspiracy.

But if you can't propagandize using the media, the terrorists have already won.

ambrosia ananas said...

Hey, thanks DG.

Cice, I think you've stumbled on something here. I mean, look when the season was first aired--a scant four months after 9/11. Plenty of time to start brainwashing the public. Totally a government scam.

And even if it isn't, I'm never going to watch it as long as creepy Jack Bauer is in it. (Let's not kid ourselves--it's not like I'll start watching the show if Jack *isn't* in it.)

NatGo said...

I used to think Jack was great, but at the same time an aquantiaince of mine was in Washington DC testifying that torture doesn't really work, and it causes way more problems than it solves, Jack was breaking a lamp to electrocute his girlfriend's husband - who had absolutley no info, and ended up dying by taking a bullet for Jack. So, I heart 24, but I am not sure it's good for our national psyche.

That said, Stupid's comment might be the funniest thing ever.

BowlerGirl said...

This is a super hot-button for me. I understand the need for timely information, but the violation of human rights is sickening. I think that TV shows that have violent actions should illustrate why we SHOULDN'T be using torture to get what we want.
Waterboarding is one of the forms of turture that the good ol' boy Dubya wants to be able to use.Read her to find out more ( then weep for where I nation is headed.

Nectar said...

First, I don't watch "24." I think I've seen part of one episode, but that is all.

Second, the U.S government denies that is uses torture. I'd be very careful of accepting biased reports that claim the U.S. uses torture. I'd believe the U.S. claim that it abides by international law.

Third, I've worked in the Department of Defense for over thirty years. None of the people I've worked with would condone the use of torture. The activities of Jack Bauer are completely over-the-top and would not be tolerated. True, some of the people I know would deprive detainees of the privilege of watching television, if you call that torture. Perhaps some of them might favor the practice of sleep deprivation - some call that torture. That is probably not practiced, however.

Fourth, Hollywood is not the friend of the present administration. I think the case could more easily be made that "24" is a plot to discredit the government, to make us think that such unthinkable actions as those of Jack Bauer are thinkable, and perhaps are already secretly being done.

jinxidoru said...

I really wish I could believe the government. I would love to live in a country where I could believe the government, but I've been lied to by President Bush far too many times. I can no longer trust that man.

One need only look at the bills before congress to see verification that we do in fact condone torture. Maybe we rename that torture to make it sound like it's something different (ex. water-boarding), but it's still torture. Why are they trying to suspend habeas corpus, unless they have something to hide?

Something that has to be addressed as well is the fact that, in a real world, a lot of the people Jack Bauer interrogates would not have information. If falsely implicating someone will give you relief from torture, then you can be sure that the average person will do just that. Can we say McCarthyism? People were falsely implicating one another left and right to avoid being black-listed.

If any of you are familiar with This American Life then you should check out this episode: Habeas Schmaebeas. It explains very well what this administration is doing by talking with the very people to whom they are doing it.

jinxidoru said...

One other thing. I'm sure that no one really believes that the government is behind 24. Ok, maybe some of the ultra-conspiracy theorists do. I do think that it is aiding the pro-torture, "anti-evil-doer" lobby.

It is a shame that I like the show so much, because I completely disagree with everything it teaches.

sakhmet said...

Is THAT what "24" is about? No wonder I don't watch it.

AzĂșcar said...

Just an echo that the Habeas Schmaebeas T.A.L. is one of the finest radio programs I've ever heard.

Jordy said...

How else do you get information you want if you don't use torture?

Cicada said...

Jordy, "Being nice" comes to mind. You know---like "If you give us this information, we'll give you belgian waffles with EXTRA chocolate sauce" or "Want a free iPod nano? Join Key Bank OR give us the information we want."

Tickling may also work, though that is borderline.

AzĂșcar said...

I think Cicada, that you might be onto something.

I saw conservative pundit Laura Ingraham on TV last night actually using your "24" argument to justify torture. She said that since "24" is so popular, that is, in effect, a referrendum from the American People in favor of broader use of interrogation practices.

I nearly fell off the couch. So I don't know who has been reading whom, (Laura quite stealing from Cici!) but for some people, your hypothesis is not facetious.

Jordy said...

Wow. I guess being nice could work, but I don't know how most democrats would feel about taxes going to the "Bribes for Terrorists and Bad Guys Account" instead of Education. Most republicans wouldn't like it either. I guess the answer to dealing with terrorists is this... it stinks no matter what. You can't kill them, because they are people too, but you also can't bribe them because we need to take care of our own .

jinxidoru said...

How else do you get information you want if you don't use torture?

There's the problem. Often times you get the information that you want, not what's actually true. Can anyone say "the Inquisition?" (nobody expected that) The Inquisition was great at extracting information. They weren't quite as good at extracting true information.

There are plenty of ways of getting information that don't involve torture. The police has all kinds of tools for obtaining information. They have plea bargains and the like. Torture need not be one of those tools.

Another problem with torture is that it is a slippery slope. One day we're torturing to get information. Once that becomes acceptable, how long until we torture as a form of punishment?

Jordy said...

Anyone ever read that story "The Lottery"?