Kiefer Sutherland, star of terrorporn fantasia 24, was recently interviewed by the London Guardian, and asked to account for the show's depictions of torture in terms of the effects they've had on national security policy. To his credit, Sutherland gamely attempts to assert that there's some sort of distinction to be made between fiction and reality:
"First off, I'm just going to tell you outright, the problem is not 24. To try and correlate from what's happening on a television show to what the military is doing in the real world, I think that's ridiculous." Does he mean he doesn't believe the reports of 24's influence? "Well I haven't read all those reports. But if that's actually happening, then the problem that you have in the US military is massive. If your ethics in the military, in your training, is going to be counterminded by a one-hour weekly television show we've got a really big problem." His growl grows heavy with contempt. "If you can't tell the difference between reality and what's happening on a made-up TV show, and you're correlating that back to how to do your job in the real world, that's a big, big problem."
Yes. This is an epochal breakthrough in elementary existentialism. Or maybe not, considering how much Sutherland has invested in the "reality" of his character:
"Jack Bauer," he asserts, "is to me an apolitical character." Really? "Well, can you tell me if Jack Bauer is a Democrat or a Republican?" I would say he's clearly a Republican. "Absolutely not!" Sutherland flashes back triumphantly. "Not a chance." Why not? "Because I'm not a Republican, and I created the character."
Ultimately, the whole exchange leaves Sutherland's interlocutor mightily confused ("...I wonder if I'd half forgotten myself that Sutherland isn't a Pentagon official, or a politician, but an actor."), neatly presaging the psychotic break that Sutherland's assertions are sure to inspire in the torture fans of the wingnutosphere. So, on balance, upside.