Feb 28 2010

The Descent of “24”

Category: media,societyharmonicminer @ 10:01 am

The FOX TV show “24” continues to go downhill.  Sadly.  It used to be pretty good.

Jack is getting stupider, the writing is getting worse and worse, the setups of personal motivations are more cartoon-like (come on…  this little plot line of the head CTU data analyst having a “secret identity” not found by a background investigation is risible), and the “fight scenes” and “interrogations” even sillier.

Just for example:  imagine you are an experienced FBI agent with undercover missions and considerable experience with violent action under your belt.  Imagine that even though this is so, you are a slender female, who has killed a big, strong man, in self-defense, because you were in fear for your life…  since he had his hands wrapped around your neck and was strangling you.  And imagine that you managed to grab a knife and stab him multiple times, and he has died of his wounds.

Now imagine you are being questioned by a barracuda Justice Dept lawyer who insists that since you stabbed your assailant multiple times (instead of stopping after the first thrust), you must have intended to kill him, not merely stop him.

Do you get all teary eyed and shaky and maybe confess you wanted to kill him for other reasons?  Or do you, out of the wealth of background in violence statistics learned by every newbie FBI agent in the academy, remind the lawyer that one stab rarely stops a determined assailant…  that the assailant had a firearm on his belt…  that even though after a couple hits he went down, he STILL had access to the firearm, was not unconscious, could not be presumed inactive, and, in any case, you were weak and shaky from the attack, and simply couldn’t risk that he could get up again, or get his firearm and kill you.

It’s a little thing.  But it undoes my ability to take the “tense interrogation” seriously, and just makes me want to say, “Are these script writers ignorant, or just stupid?”  TV script writers are mostly ignorant about most things…  they are mostly young, they mostly haven’t had another job, they have mostly learned about the world by reading other novels and scripts, not by reading history and books by people who know what they’re talking about, etc. 

I’m really tired of Glocks with manual safeties, the little “snick” every time an agent merely POINTS a gun that was already in hand and presumed ready for use, the ridiculous scenes where someone is using a pump shotgun and has fired it, and is now searching for the person they want to shoot WITHOUT PUMPING THE ACTION to get another round in the chamber, until they SEE the person, and only THEN do they menacingly work the action…. 

Given the prevalence of this cliche, it’s as if someone in Hollywood has convinced all the rest that the sound of a racked shotgun slide is somehow scarier than one with a round in the chamber, ready for use.  Just as with the cliche of gang bangers holding guns horizontally, I hope anyone seeking to do me harm with a shotgun has an empty chamber.

I’m pretty sure that if this season had been the FIRST season of “24”, the show would not have been renewed, because it would not have attracted an audience.  The new owners of the franchise, who had a year LAST season to learn the ropes, and get it right, have done worse this year.  About the only thing that have done right this year is that at least the terrorists appear to be Islamic crazies (although their Ahmandinejad analog comes off as a more muscular Gandhi), instead of an American corporation…  so there is some realism there.  Of course, they still have the time to screw up the plot line and blame it all on Toyota or something.  The season isn’t over yet.

24 used to make some sense to me.  The motivations of the players made some sense.  Jack was impossibly gifted as an agent, and got away with things no one would, but it wasn’t just simply ridiculous every ten seconds. 

Still, the thing is, Hollywood’s presentation of other matters is no better.  Hollywood’s ideas of how business works, how the military works, how the government works, how the church works, what religion even IS, how journalism works, how the justice system works, how the education system works, how the medical system works, how ANYTHING works, are just so stupid, mostly, that it’s hard not to snicker.  In fact, I suspect the only time Hollywood gets it right is when someone writes a script about the skull-duggery behind the scenes of movie-making.

That would be something they know all about.