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Your Turn: Jack Bauer

From 24, created by Joel Surnow and Robert Cochran
Nominated by Mike McCabe

Jack Bauer, played by Kiefer Sutherland, is the protagonist of 24, the hit Fox television show. If someone were to ask me what I think of when someone says America, I would say, with firm delivery, "Red meat, power tools, and Jack Bauer."

Jack Bauer has struck a chord with die hard patriots in our country, along with people who love explosions and firefights. I fit into both of these categories, along with most of America. Jack is the quintessence of what every starry-eyed small town boy dreamed of as a child: a real life superhero.

I am submitting to this forum with words of treachery and deceit, because I do not believe Jack Bauer is a work of fiction. I would like to think of 24 as merely E! True Hollywood Story: Jack Bauer. Jack Bauer is America's guardian angel. Every morning that I wake up, I drop to my knees and thank Jack Bauer for sparing my life. Jack giveth and taketh away.



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This is the best piece of literature I have ever read.

Sent by James Patterson | 8:54 PM | 1-14-2008

Mike, Jack is no longer my hero, now you are.

Sent by Chris Sowers | 8:58 AM | 1-15-2008

Jack Bauer is to America what the unibomer was to the postal service

Sent by Jason Noble | 10:38 AM | 1-15-2008

You are my prized student

Sent by JV Counts | 10:38 AM | 1-15-2008

A touching portrait of a stainless man. The lyrical diction is more arousing than anything written by the likes of Thoreau or Steinbeck. McCabe has hit a knockout.

Sent by Tony Almeida | 11:48 AM | 1-15-2008

I concur with this lad's portrait of a great American.

Sent by Stephen Tiberius | 1:50 PM | 1-15-2008

If Jack Bauer had been a Spartan, the movie would have been called "1".

Sent by Mike McCabe Sr. | 1:54 PM | 1-15-2008

Jack Bauer > Leonidas.

Sent by John MacNaughton | 1:54 PM | 1-15-2008

...and on the seventh day Jack Bauer said, "I'll take it from here."

Sent by Audrey Raines | 1:57 PM | 1-15-2008

This has convinced me to stop watching the show.

Sent by A. Spence | 2:30 PM | 1-15-2008

Why am I not surprised at the flippant tone of the original essay and the subsequent juvenile comments, excluding Jason Noble and A. Spence, when talking about one of the most morally reprehensible characters in all of television?

Maybe I shouldn't be surprised when Americans rally behind a torturer and bully who blithely disregards laws and the civil liberties of others. Yeah, torture, is fun and justified, especially when perpetrated by "patriots" such as Bauer because he is American and therefore never wrong.

I may be wrong, however, about the final judgment of the original essay, as the last two sentences compare Bauer's self-conception as a lawgiver unto himself with the ultimate Christian lawgiver. Whether that comparison was ironic, I can only hope.

Sent by John Brown | 10:26 PM | 1-15-2008

This is horrible!

Sent by Mike Rotch | 9:00 AM | 1-16-2008

The British are Coming!

Sent by Paul Revere | 10:44 AM | 1-16-2008

John's right! You put your gosh darn slander away!

Sent by David Chapel | 1:53 PM | 1-16-2008

Guys, let's stop fighting!

Sent by Lance Bass | 1:54 PM | 1-16-2008

Alright. Point taken, Sir 19th century radical abolitionist. However, are you suggesting a character such as those from "Will and Grace" protect our country from biological terrorism? That is an absolutely horrendous idea, John.

If you would like to bring the definition of "patriot" into play, would you consider George Washington and our Founding Fathers patriots? We don't frown on these people, these immoral patriarchs of the most inhumane and cruel institutions humanity has ever seen. And you call Jack Bauer out as a man who "blithely disregards laws and the civil liberties of others?" Compared to these "patriots," Jack Bauer is a Seraph.

Perhaps you can take some humor in the facetious idolatry of a man who is "morally reprehensible." I certainly did while writing it.

Sent by Mike McCabe | 2:12 PM | 1-16-2008

Mike McCabe, my good man, considering the NPR audience, I could not but think that the original essay and posts leading to my own comments were nothing less than brilliantly mocking miniature paeans to the most jingoistic elements of our colorful nation.

As to whom I would consider patriots, I would bestow that label to anyone who fought for the expanded freedoms and civil liberties to those elements of society that did not yet enjoy them. Thus, my namesake, the suffragettes and the proponents of civil rights all fit my definition.

Often I find that unironic jingoistic cheerleading and the mocking of same to be so similar as to be indistinguishable. In such cases, I choose to laugh with moral outrage; a staccato sound of sad contempt mixed with a glint of resigned resolution.

Sent by John Brown | 2:13 AM | 1-18-2008

Jack Bauer is the world-saving federal agent in the hit T.V. series 24. Not only have millions of viewers tuned in to watch Jack Bauer help take down terrorists, but he has started to become the main character in Chuck Norris-type jokes. Jack is an instinctive kind of character that will do anything to succeed, even if he has to break federal laws and face imprisonment. The American people are able to identify with the head-strong Jack because he represents the rebel within everyone. Viewers are immersed into the action packed life of a federal agent and the rebel aspect in every person is fueled by encountering murder, spies, and conspiracy. By watching 24, people are able to step out of their ordinary life and enter into a world where life is put on the line. Jack Bauer is not just a federal agent. He is a hero.

Sent by Devynne Bruce | 9:25 AM | 1-25-2008

Thank you, Mike McCabe.

Jack Bauer is a broken hero these days. But I love him because he is a man of his word, and he protects his country no matter what it takes. He thinks of the bigger picture and is willing to sacrifice himself for the greater good, if need be.

In fact, he already has. There's not much left of Jack Bauer these days, with all that he's been called upon to do, and all he has chosen to do. But he keeps on giving his all.

Despite his many flaws and sins, this is what makes him a hero.

Sent by Mo | 9:09 PM | 1-28-2008

I have said for years now that the only reality TV that I watch is 24: The Chronicles of Jack Bauer. If Mike Huckabee can have Chuck Norris roundhouse a voter turnout; then we can honor Jack Bauer as the new Captain America...or suffer the waterboard!

Sent by Chad Reinhart | 11:53 AM | 1-30-2008

I think Jack Bauer if the modern manifestation of the prior Texas Ranger, the Lone Ranger in the 21st century but with multiple folks working as his Tonto/side kick.

Note the immutable sense of right and wrong, but willing to bend propriety to get at that greater good

Sent by susan | 4:52 PM | 2-10-2008

What a coincidence! Some of us were analyzing the use of fictional characters for government propaganda before this NPR 'In Character' series started.

66 years ago, during World War II, the official government propaganda organ called the Office of War Information regulated Hollywood's movie scripts in the name of national interest. In the 1950s the CIA formed a secret ministry of culture called the Congress for Cultural Freedom, and TV scripts were reviewed by State Department, Pentagon, and CIA.

You all might consider viewing TV and movies and listening to radio with this historical background in mind. Then you might not consider it a coincidence that Jack Bauer is desensitizing Americans to torture and 'J.A.G.' bored us to tears long before the legislation called the Military Commisions Act of 2006 supported military tribunals.

Oddly, just as the House Select Committee on Assassinations was about to release its final report on the shooting of JFK, America was waiting to find out 'who shot JR' on a TV show called...'Dallas.' Isn't that a wild coincidence?

TV and movies (and radio ahem) are some of the most useful tools of shaping public opinion. Think about it.

Sent by J. Switky | 11:18 PM | 2-10-2008

Pam Fessler asks why Americans love Jack Bauer. Answer: For the same reason that Germans loved Adolph Hitler: because he's a fascist.

Sent by Sherman Greene | 8:05 AM | 3-17-2008