Once again, Jack Bauer to the rescue
Listen up all you fans of the TV series "24". Thomas Lifson explains what makes us love the show so much in a post-9/11 world -- in addition to simply being a very entertaining and suspenseful show with great writing and acting, it fundamentally appeals to some need inside us for release, especially in an age of fear and uncertainty.
And yes, like so much else in life, the Ancient Greeks not only discovered this principle, but they named it. Thomas fill us in, and in the process coins a beautiful phrase that simply delights my Aussie soul -- "antipodean harmony".
I will be remembering that as I watch tonight's episode, since no doubt Jack will be once again singlehandedly saving Western Civilization in spite of his superiors and seemingly insuperable odds.
We know our man Jack will get the job done.
The American Thinker
The ancient Greeks developed a term for what Jack Bauer supplies us. It is the narcotic of catharsis. We live in a perpetual, usually conscious, state of anxiety over what will become of us in the face of terrorists who do not hesitate to inflict mass casualties of the most horrible order. Many of us are also genuinely troubled by the potential loss of freedom if our civil liberties are infringed. As a result, we live with tension, the release of which generates pleasing endorphins in our brains.
And Jack Bauer does provide release. He Does What Needs to be Done. No worrying over constitutional protections, or even fear for the legal and personal costs when responsibility is put on his shoulders. Torture the suspect (or last season, violate the diplomatic immunity of a Chinese consulate), and protect America.
Because Jack is a fantasy figure, a gritty version of James Bond, whose ammunition never runs out, who is never the one brought down in a hail of fire, and whom we know will go on to protect us again, all of this escapism works and works well. Even as we are caught-up in the dramatic tension, we know that it is “only” entertainment.
Fantasy and reality, when confused in a human mind, can produce psychosis. But when their antipodean harmony is artfully balanced to speak to our hopes and fears in a meaningful manner, they entertain and even enlighten us.