24: Season 6 - America angered by torture scenes
Story by Jack Foley
THE sixth season of real-time thriller 24 got off to a typically controversial start when it was criticised by Muslim groups for depicting them in a negative light.
The show has since landed in much hotter water for its repeated depiction of torture, prompting America’s Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to consider whether it should regulate TV violence as closely as it does indecency, and forcing the show’s creators to put out a statement insisting they will be cutting back on torture.
According to various US reports, the FCC has been moved to take action because it supports the claim that violence on television has an impact on children’s real-life behaviour.
It argues that cable channels, as well as the broadcast networks, need much tougher policing during the hours when kids are most likely to be watching and it’s currently deciding on whether to take the report to Congress.
In the meantime, Howard Gordon, executive producer of 24, has told The Philadelphia Inquirer that the writers intend to cut back on the depiction of torture on the show.
He commented: “What was once an extraordinary or exceptional moment is starting to feel a little trite.
“The idea of physical coercion or torture is no longer a novelty or surprise. It’s not something that we, as writers, want to use as a crutch. We’d like to find other ways for Jack to get information out of suspects…. Our appetite has decreased. Personally, I think the audience may be tiring of it as well. My wife says it’s too much.”
The situation became even more sensitive in America following the episode that took place between 1pm and 2pm, when terrorists were seen using a power drill on a male CTU agent in a bid to get him to comply with their wishes.
The show attracted complaints from human rights activists and the US military’s top brass who claimed such scenes were influencing the behaviour of US interrogators in places like Iraq.
The Associated Press has recently reported that some American interrogators in Baghdad have asked to use tough information-extracting techniques that they’ve seen on DVDs of 24.
While an article in The New Yorker reveals that US Army Brigadier General Patrick Finnegan, the dean of the United States Military Academy at West Point, had met with the creative team behind 24.
He subsequently claimed – together with three of the most experienced military and FBI interrogators in the country – that their perception of one of the series’ main talking points — that civil rights must be ignored in times of terrorist threat — was “toxic”.
It remains to be seen what the fallout of such articles and reports is – or how much more torture lies in store for season six.
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