Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Bauer Power

With my fanaticism over the show "24," it started me wondering why Jack Bauer is so fascinating to me. After a bit of introspection, and too much reveling about the character, I think I have some of the profile, but then I wonder why, as a Christian, I am so drawn to that profile. Here's what I came up with about why Jack's my favorite character on TV in quite some time:

First, Jack doesn't believe he can be redeemed. He reminds me of another character I really like, that of Creasy (played by Denzel Washington) in the 2004 film, Man on Fire (a remake, I believe). In that show, there's a dialogue exchange by Creasy and his old friend, Rayburn, played by Christopher Walken. Mostly paraphrasing from memory, it was:

Rayburn: Do you think God will forgive us for what we've done?
Creasy: No.

Creasy's so tortured by his past, and Jack has that same fallen image of himself. As a patriot in the deepest sense of the word, where does that leave him? Basically, everone else is worth saving, Americans especially, but himself -- and the terrorists. He carries that fallenness with him, yet he never projects it upon anyone else. Tony, Chase, Michelle, Chloe, Curtis. All these people have in some way or another commited the same sins as Jack, but he doesn't see it that way. And he doesn't want any of them to have to fall as he has, so unless it's a must for American security, then Jack is going to want to fly solo and do the hell-bound job himself. He's done it so many times now, he's addicted to it and loses a part of himself when he's not saving the U.S.A.

Second, Jack hates what he has to do, but he sees no other way to get his job done. Worse, he might be right here. This attribute affects his image of himself that I've already described above. Jack never tortures or maims for the sake of pain itself, but he never hesitates when saving the lives of Americans is on the line, either. Same with killing terrorists or their allies. In Bauer's semi-warped mindset, however, he crosses a morality line every time he has to do it. The line has never blurred with Jack; it's always been black and white. And he's crossed it and continues to cross it every time he repeats his actions. I remember at the end of one season, it was Season Two or Three, the very last scene at the end of 24 hours of hell was Jack getting into his car, laying his head on the steering wheel, and breaking down in tears. That's how the whole season ended... with Jack crying like a baby in his car. And it was perfect.

Third, I've mentioned it above, but pure, unbridled patriotism is a huge reason for the love we give Jack. As the children of citizens, especially before my generation but even into it, we were taught that it means something, really everything, to be an American. The Pledge of Allegiance. God Bless America. Right or wrong in the hierarchy of our belief system, patriotism was rooted as of prime importance in our souls. Even as Christians where Christ IS our everything, it doesn't filter out that we're Americans, too, and really nor should it. Brave men and women have served in this country's armed forces for over 200 years. They've lived, died, and sacrificed for our freedoms. Jack sort of embodies the patriotism most of us hope that we have within us in some form or fashion. He has a loyalty to the cause of America that absolutely nothing can break. And he'll do anything - become addicted to heroin, kill, rob, cheat, steal, torture - for the patriotic cause he stands for and what his vision of America is. And those people who most define that vision in his eyes are the one's that he's most loyal to of all. He's endured everything for his cause, and we hope that in similar situation that we would do the same for God -- and then for country.

Lastly, Jack's human. He loves. He despises. He hurts. He's a father. He's a friend. He's an enemy. He errs. He regrets his mistakes. He atones for them. Although his humanity hardly ever trumps his loyalty, he's not some demi-god or mystical agent working for CTU. After his self-imposed drug addiction for the American cause, he fell prey to the drug a while. His decisions as a husband, lover, and father have rendered dire consequences on his life. We can see why people question Jack, and then we cheer when they come around to see his valor.
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Since I don't watch that much TV, I'll refrain from tossing out absolutist statements like "Jack's the best character on television." But I've seen many episodes of many dramas. I've seen House, and I've watched some of the sit-coms, too. No one's as compelling as Jack to me. He's my favorite, by far.

Yeah, I'm not sure what this says about my Christian walk. My life is to take on Christ's, and aside from his loyalty to his cause, I don't see many parallels between Jesus and Jack. Yet, there are aspects of Bauer I wish I had. And for me, I can unequivocally state that watching the show has been profitable for me. Meanwhile, sometimes I just want somebody to shake Jack and get it through his thick skull that he is redeemable, but then, if they ever got it across it'd be the end of the show.

I'm going to keep watching "24," because if anything is, this is must-see TV. I'll take questions now.


Rich said...

Sorry, I've got to run pick up my boy, and I just posted this without checking for spelling, etc. errors.

I'll look at this tonight and clean it up.

P&S said...


I'm convinced. I've got to start watching this show. In fact, everyone I know needs to watch this show.

I think I'll send out a chain email.

Rich said...

You know, if you had been on the show "24," you'd have been dead in Season 1, Show 1, the first ten minutes.

jon said...

He's a 24-basher & he's never even watched the show. He doesn't even know what he's missing. It's without a doubt, hands down the best show on TV...& the most addictive show I can remember watching. It makes Mondays more bearable.

Rich said...


Totally agreed. Now, if you can just do some Ken-bashing over there, maybe you could knock 24 hours of sense into him. If not, it'd probably feel good all the same.