U.S. Military Critical of Torture Scenes in 24

Posted on February 13, 2007

Jack BauerThe Independent Online is reporting that the US military is not happy with the way Fox's hit show 24 is portraying torture.
But while 24 draws millions of viewers, it appears some people are becoming a little squeamish. The US military has appealed to the producers of 24 to tone down the torture scenes because of the impact they are having both on troops in the field and America's reputation abroad. Forget about Abu Ghraib, forget about Guantanamo Bay, forget even that the White House has authorised interrogation techniques that some classify as torture, that damned Jack Bauer is giving us a bad name.

The United States Military Academy at West Point yesterday confirmed that Brigadier General Patrick Finnegan recently travelled to California to meet producers of the show, broadcast on the Fox channel. He told them that promoting illegal behaviour in the series - apparently hugely popular among the US military - was having a damaging effect on young troops.

According to the New Yorker magazine, Gen Finnegan, who teaches a course on the laws of war, said of the producers: "I'd like them to stop. They should do a show where torture backfires... The kids see it and say, 'If torture is wrong, what about 24'?

"The disturbing thing is that although torture may cause Jack Bauer some angst, it is always the patriotic thing to do."

The New Yorker article the Independent Online is referring to can be found here. In an article from TV Week 24 screenwriter David Fury defends the torture scenes by saying that they just don't have enough time on a television show to show Jack Bauer getting information out of a terrorist in a realistic way. Fury says, "It's very hard for us to adjust to a realistic depiction of torture, which usually goes on for weeks and months, when we only have 42 minutes for Jack to get information out of somebody."

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