I will be eternally grateful to Audible.com for solving my New Yorker problem. The magazine has always hung heavy over my head with its oh-so-urbane humor and "wry" cartoons (somebody gave us a coffee table book of rejected New Yorker cartoons I enjoyed much more than the ones that made it in) causing me to avoid the thing in its entirety, including, unfortunately, much excellent journalism. But my audio subscription allows me to skip the cartoons entirely and usually includes the meatier articles. Plus, I have a little audio-crush in one of the readers, who I imagine to look like a slightly older Henry from Ugly Betty.
The New Yorker's recent article about Joel Surnow, the producer of 24, has me in a tizzy. 24 is my favorite tv show. I also think George Bush should be impeached. I was generally happy in this inconsistency, watching Jack Bauer torturing terrorists while secure in my belief that, in real life, it is our president who poses the greatest threat to my safety. But this article not only made me confront the company I keep--
In fact, many prominent conservatives speak of “24” as if it were real. John Yoo, the former Justice Department lawyer who helped frame the Bush Administration’s “torture memo”—which, in 2002, authorized the abusive treatment of detainees—invokes the show in his book “War by Other Means.” He asks, “What if, as the popular Fox television program ‘24’ recently portrayed, a high-level terrorist leader is caught who knows the location of a nuclear weapon?” Laura Ingraham, the talk-radio host, has cited the show’s popularity as proof that Americans favor brutality. “They love Jack Bauer,” she noted on Fox News. “In my mind, that’s as close to a national referendum that it’s O.K. to use tough tactics against high-level Al Qaeda operatives as we’re going to get.” Surnow once appeared as a guest on Ingraham’s show; she told him that, while she was undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer, “it was soothing to see Jack Bauer torture these terrorists, and I felt better.” Surnow joked, “We love to torture terrorists—it’s good for you!”
--I was also horrified by the world-view of the man whose pocket I am lining:
In [Surnow's] view, America “is sort of the parent of the world, so we have to be stern but fair to people who are rebellious to us. We don’t spoil them. That’s not to say you abuse them, either. But you have to know who the adult in the room is.”
I am reminded of a young teacher on child_lit who had been enthusiastically sharing her love for Roald Dahl's books with her students until she read his biography. But while I might argue that this teacher has a duty to introduce students to Dahl, my watching of 24 is strictly optional, if compulsive. The show itself is moderately non-partisan (torture for all) but I'm still going to hate myself in the morning.