The Ever-Changing Symbolism of Jack Bauer

I'm trying to figure out Jack Bauer. Simple, you'd think, to analyze a man with few emotions and one simple goal. Jack Bauer, despite his history, despite his current situation, still only wants to do his all to protect his country. He does this at all costs, risking his life and others. Jack Bauer, this unblinking, Machiavellian super-hero, is harder than hard, especially in 24's current seventh season. He's toughened with age and hardship. He has every reason to hate the United States, but he keeps putting his life on the line for it, almost a robot with no ability to resist the call of callous heroism. While Jack's motivations are simple, his actions decisive and clear, what 24 is trying to tell us about ourselves and our country isn't. What does Jack Bauer represent? Has it changed on this season of 24? What are the marks of the post-Bush Jack?

The politics of 24 have long been discussed, with accusations that the 24 writers are hard-core right wingers, big fans of torture who hold an out and out hatred of liberal sensibilities. This is all nonsense, of course. Joel Surnow, the creator and former executive producer of 24, is, in fact, a big time conservative, a close friend of radio gas bag Rush Limbaugh, and the mastermind behind the Fox News Channel's disastrous response to The Daily Show, The 1/2 Hour News Hour. However, despite Surnow's inevitable stamp on 24's story-lines, the writers' room has always featured a diverse group, containing people of all political bents. But, really, serious politics and 24 just don't go together a story has to be told every season and any political agenda espoused is secondary to the superficially exciting adventures of Jack Bauer.

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