A few days I was asked by my friend Amar Bakshi, blogger at the Washington Post, how Australians felt about 24’s Jack Bauer and the show in general. He’s posted a fascinating entry with comments from around the world. After all, the program has come to define many aspects of the Bush administration in a post 9/11 world. My response?
24 is highly popular here in Australia, though I don’t think for purely political reasons. The show is catchy, witty, brutal and simply fun to watch. Many, I suspect, don’t really consider the program a biting analysis of the post 9/11 world. For others, however, myself included, it seems to reek of the worst kind of America unashamedly unleashed by the Bush administration. Torture and the whatever it takes mentality is precisely why the US is so despised right now, and most importantly, unhinged from its so-called founding principles (let’s not romanticise the past, though as successive US administrations have used torture as a means of obtaining dubious information for decades. Latin America in the 70s and 80s, anyone?)
If 24 convinces people that Abu Ghraib is a lone example, they’d be mistaken. George W. Bush is arriving in Sydney this weekend for the APEC conference. Most Australians don’t like him, the war in Iraq or his policies. Our Prime Minister John Howard may think that his flagging electoral fortunes will be enhanced by standing next to the Texas torturer, but alas, it won’t be the case. Australia, like many Western countries, has discussed the rights and wrongs about torture, and 24 is a potent contribution to the mix. If Jack Bauer is the new face of America, I hope that many Australians will look elsewhere for sycophantic support.
My favourites comments are from readers in Mexico, Senegal and Venezuela, an indication that such American programs have profound international reach.