Friday, 2 February 2007

from a generous and observant reader

Carlos Bernard (Tony Almeida in 24) is left-handed.

And let me just confess that I find 24 surprisingly compelling. Having watched serieses 1-5 on DVD in big chunks over the last couple of years (the Jacobean first series is clearly superior to its Machiavellian sucessors) we are now attempting to watch it week by week, courtesy of Adam and Laura's SkyOne plus video. Not having a TV ourselves means that even the box becomes a relational tool, on a good day! (For proper analysis of all this relational thinking the best starting place is the work of Michael Schluter and David John Lee, The R-Factor [1993] and The R-Option [2002].)

An interesting feature of 24 is that the country of origin of the various villains is frequently kept hidden, especially when the villains are Muslims (as in serieses 2, 4 and 6). So, we don't hear which Caucasian republic the bombers in season 5 are fighting for, and we don't hear which Middle-Eastern country is first suspected of complicity in the plot, then exonerated through the sacrificial work of its noble secret service agent, in season 2 (in my opinion the one with the most holes, but that's a story for another day...)

The exceptions are noteworthy, and predictable. The shadowy international arms dealers are almost always English. And, as we know, the British/English villain (either character or actor or both) is a staple of the American action genre. But in series 4 we hear very early on that the family terrorist cell are Turkish immigrants. They are not stock Arab/generic Middle Eastern villains. This was, from a Westerner's point of view, an unusual deviation from the programme-makers' underdetermination of origins. But for my Turkish friends it was not only a tremendous insult ("no one in Turkey is watching it now, they have lost a whole nation") it was also just another example of how everyone is out to 'get' Turkey.

There is much to be said on Renaissance stereotyping of "the Turk", and the effect that this has had on European culture subsquently. But that's a story for another day.