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MUSINGS BROUGHT ABOUT BY WITHDRAWL

I joined Live Journal last July so that I would have a place to post my 24 fanfiction. Until now, I have resisted posting to my journal as I am squeamish about putting details about myself all over cyberspace. Yet this quiet weekend spent in frosty Nova Scotia has left me in a reflective mood. I may make an effort to make this journal look a bit less generic.


I have just finished reading the excellent 24 and Philosophy: The World According to Jack, the latest offering from Blackwell Publishing. (The wonderful South Park and Philosophy: Bigger, Longer and More Penetrating is one of the most brilliant pop-culture analyses I’ve yet read). Usually I jump for joy when one of my favorite shows receives serious academic attention. But although I very much enjoyed 24 and Philosophy, the reading of it has left me somewhat melancholy. Exploring the moral and dramatic aspects of Jack Bauer and his tense, violent world seems almost…well…perverse, what with Day 7 being postponed until who knows when and that show’s charismatic Leading Man currently in jail. The problems of the real world (problems which 24 has explored in such an entertaining and provocative manner) has disrupted our collective fantasy life. The irony is rich.

Ah, the Writer’s Strike. I’m not going to attempt to analyze the minutia of this work stoppage here, or try to speculate on how or if it will ever be resolved.

I will say that there are three TV shows that I follow almost religiously: Lost, 24, and Battlestar Galactica. All three are complex fantasies that do not permit sporadic or casual viewing. These shows have a large cast of characters and complicated, multiple plotlines. All three of these shows have enjoyed excellent writing, acting, and directing, good music and fine photography. All three have a unique visual style and are lovely to behold. All three shows, each in their own way, serve to deconstruct and offer a fresh perspective on life in the early 21st century. They serve as mirrors to our own world. Although each series has occasionally suffered from some inevitable bumps in quality or the odd weak episode, these shows have provide us with years of fine entertainment and food for thought.

With the exception of a handful of Lost episodes, these are three shows that I (and everyone else) will have to live without this winter. I know: Read some more books. Catch up of DVD sets. See some movies. Explore the drama of my real life.

But I feel (forgive me if this sounds pretentious) that the (hopefully temporary) loss of these dramas represent much more than the mere pangs of withdrawal. Writers such Steven Johnson, in his book Everything Bad Is Good for You: How Today's Popular Culture Is Actually Making Us Smarter, have stated that we are enjoying a Golden Age of television. One only needs to compare The A-Team to 24 (thank you, xbedhead) to appreciate how far the art of television has come. Academic publishing houses such as the afore-mentioned Blackwell and BenBella Books have deemed many TV shows worthy of serious discussion. It has often been said (by so many people I can’t quote a single source) that if Shakespeare or Chekhov (the playwright, not the navigator) were alive today, they would be screenwriters.

What if this Golden Age is at an end due to forces beyond our control? That television will regress to a wasteland and celebrity gossip and reality shows? A sad thought.

Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to comment of my efforts at 24 fanfiction. I look forward to your feedback on this, my initial and somewhat overwrought journal entry.

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Comments

( 20 comments — Leave a comment )
catch22girl
Dec. 15th, 2007 11:25 pm (UTC)
I am *thrilled* to see an entry from you! I want that book on 24 and philosophy - did it go into the whole "ends justify the means" thing and living with guilt and meaning of life and assorted topics? I also heard of another one called Jack Bauer for President or something like that about the political world of 24.

I wonder if book reading will go up because of the strike.

I'm not sure if they're going to ruin the Golden Age, but...this is a large snag. I don't know, maybe it's the ultimate result of greed - no one is willing to give in to help others and the producers think let them eat cake instead of wanting to give the writers a fair deal. Some people even think this will make them more money, but the American public is *not* sympathetic and getting less so.

I too am going through withdrawl - good fanfic makes it easier and I've started reading book series, and finished Friday Night Lights (which I recommend so much). It feels weird to know that season seven isn't coming back in January and Kiefer's in jail for 48 days, which saddens me.

I'm hoping TV can bounce back from this, but the problem is that people are forgetting to watch - they've gotten out of the habit, ratings were low for new episodes and I'm not sure how to get them *back*.

marinw
Dec. 15th, 2007 11:51 pm (UTC)
Make no mistake: 24 and Philosophy is a serious academic tome which quotes Aristotle and Kant. It explores the issues you mention and many others. The chapters on Jack as the Tragic Hero will make you weep.

Also in the same vein is Reading 24: TV Against the Clock. It goes up to Day 5.

Jack Bauer for President: Terrorism and Politics in 24 has been delayed until March 08 (according to the publisher, BenBella Books) due to the writer’s strike and other issues.

As for the WGA strike, I feel for the 15,000 or so production workers and third-party contractors (such as caterers) who have been thrown out of work. I am also mired in my own self-pity!

I usually make sport of incarcerated celebrities. Remember Martha Stewart? Kiefer is providing me with no schadenfrude whatsoever. (That’s a German word which translates as “shameful joy,” or taking pleasure in another’s misfortune.)

Thank you for reading my journal. It's a good place to post things that don’t fit in other categories.
xbedhead
Dec. 16th, 2007 12:04 am (UTC)
I feel for the 15,000 or so production workers and third-party contractors (such as caterers) who have been thrown out of work.

Yep. I have a friend, Ralph Weaver, who worked as a set coordinator or something like that, on a lot of the soap operas. Needless to say, he's been back home for a while. It sucks all around that there's only one group of people that remain largely unaffected by all this and they hold the purse strings.

What I don't get, and sorry to go into a rambly-rant here, is that, if an actor/writer/whoever makes any money off of a show in its traditional incarnations, why then would it not be reasonable for them to make money off of shows - the same percentage, I say - if they're on the internet or DVD? It just doesn't make any sense.

How can someone justify making money off of someone else's work and not wanting them to get a cut of it? It's beyond my comprehension. It would be like a book publisher saying that, yes, the author can make money if I sell it in Border's or Barnes & Noble, but if I take it to a newspaper stand where people can buy it on the sidewalk, I get all the money. STUPID.

Edited at 2007-12-16 12:05 am (UTC)
catch22girl
Dec. 16th, 2007 05:38 am (UTC)
Artistotle and Kant! *loves* -- I'm a sucker for deep analysis. He's such a Tragic Hero, although it's hard to pick out just one fatal flaw. I have Reading 24 - I wasn't so impressed. I liked parts of it but it's in some ways such a surface treatment. One of my favorite philosophy books was on The X-Files and when I was writing a paper it was pretty much a life saver.

24 is so much deeper than a lot of people give it credit for - and don't get me started on some of those so called analysis pieces in the New Yorker and other sources.

I feel for them, unfortunately it doesn't matter because the only people that need to feel for them are the people who are negotiating with them. No Daily Show or Colbert Report? CRUEL.

Schadenfrude! (oh Avenue Q did a great song on that) I know what you mean. I think it's because he's never been quite as hypocritical as some of the others. Plus, he seems really apologetic.
cybertoothtiger
Dec. 16th, 2007 05:58 pm (UTC)
Is there Nietzsche? Jack as Ubermensch? and Kierkegaard...Jack makes the leap of faith so many times. Hegel's my personal favourite. What are the effects of Jack's torture and torturing on his Self re. the Master and Slave dialectic?

Must.Get.This.Book.

Hey, did you hear that Steve Carrell called in sick out of support for the writers? When NBC offered to send a doctor round, he told them "That won't be necessary. I've come down with a case of enlarged balls." He rocks.
catch22girl
Dec. 16th, 2007 06:19 pm (UTC)
Hee. That is awesome. Also why the Office has no new eps to burn.

I'm wondering what the book has to say about the "good" in 24 and if 24 is a Nihilistic universe - I kind of think it is. Religion on 24 is fascinating to me as there's so few ties to organized religion, even the "Islamic terrorists" are connected more to power than faith.

Forgive me, it's been a while since my philosophy courses. Now I really want this book too.

marinw
Dec. 16th, 2007 06:28 pm (UTC)
There is some mention of Nietzche. How could there not be? As for the others, that's something you need to muse on in * your * journal, cybertooth. You are obviously an intelligent, educated, and articulate person * strokes ego * so I would love to read your pop-culture meditations.
cybertoothtiger
Dec. 17th, 2007 03:55 am (UTC)
*Cybertoothkitty purring*
xbedhead
Dec. 15th, 2007 11:57 pm (UTC)
The A-Team to 24 (thank you, xbedhead) to appreciate how far the art of television has come.

Oh, so you liked that allusion, did you? *G* I was wondering if anyone would ever pick up on that. It was my older brother's 24 of the day and my - look how far we've come.

And I agree with the ideology that TV is making us smarter. How many shows of yesteryear challenged us to actually think, to examine something critically, to reflect on your own beliefs? Not very many.

To think that reality shows and gossip could be the wave to the future makes me want to, for lack of better terminology, vomit profusely. I just realized that my latest round of writing influx is due not to a spark of creativity, but rather, I have no TV to watch anymore. All of my shows are pretty much out of new episodes (House and Law & Order: SVU - save Man vs. Wild because it's a new season) and the only other thing on television is Tila Tequila and I Love New York. NOT gonna happen.

It's gonna be a looooong year.

(Deleted comment)
xbedhead
Dec. 16th, 2007 12:20 am (UTC)
...especially when they put themselves on Kieferwatch.

Oh, I know! And actually, I'm kinda sick of the articles, too. It's the same thing over and over and I just wanna be like "Okay, so he wasn't a jackass when all of this happened like so many other celebrities. You keep writing over and over that there is nothing to report except how great of a prisoner he is. Great. Lay off, will ya?"

Of course, I think I'm just being ridiculously protective, but really - why keep writing if there's nothing to write about?
marinw
Dec. 16th, 2007 12:21 am (UTC)
I just realized that my latest round of writing influx is due not to a spark of creativity, but rather, I have no TV to watch anymore.

Interesting that you should say that. I originally wrote Star Trek fanfic. Star Trek fans practically invented TV fan fiction as a way of coping with the fact that their beloved show had been cancelled.

I confess to watching a couple of reality shows (I’m too embarrassed to say which ones) but they are empty calories compared to the nutrition of the scripted dramas. Gossip shows (there are a lot of them out there) make me squirm, especially when they put themselves on Kieferwatch.

Thanks for reading.
cybertoothtiger
Dec. 16th, 2007 02:38 am (UTC)
Wow, a whole new world of discussion! Yay! Thanks for posting a journal. Someday, maybe.

I don't know if the A-Team was the 24 of back in the day. In terms of kick-ass-ness, perhaps, but some of the sillier, I-can't-believe-Jack-just-did-that moments of 24 owe a lot to MacGyver.

I'll give you that we are in a Golden Age right now, but it has waxed and waned. There were some other pretty good shows that might make a more equitable comparison. Twin Peaks had plenty of angst, artiness and a solid cast. Moonlighting had great writing and fantastic chemistry. I seem to recall Miami Vice as a great show (oh, the pastel! The Phil Collins soundtrack! The many scenes of Crocket driving moodily through the night!) and 30 Something dealt with the issues. Oh! Oh! And My So Called Life. I have to admit that I haven't gone back to watch any of those, so they may not hold up now.

A friend of mine was a physchologist and had taped and catalogued every episode of Star Trek TNG because he thought the way it dealt with human relationships was pretty complex.

I think the main difference between then and now is that actors, writers and producers are less snobby about it and so it attracts a better caliber of talent.

Um, where was I going with this? Oh yeah, the Golden Age has been going on for a while now, but the changing technology of delivery is fragmenting the audience ever futher, which could make it increasingly difficult to get the budgets for quality. So we should enjoy it while it lasts.

That's all. Carry on.
marinw
Dec. 16th, 2007 03:00 am (UTC)
The X-Files! Let's not forget theX-Files!

I can see the comparisons between Jack and MacGyver. But I don't remember Mac having that much angst.

Ah, ST:TNG. I wonder if it could hold up now. Picard was so damn virtuous. It seems quite morally simplistic to Battlestar Galactica. But I loved the happy universe.

Oh yeah, the Golden Age has been going on for a while now...So we should enjoy it while it lasts.

But has the strike brought our Golden Age to a crashing halt? Thus the source of my fanish angst.
cybertoothtiger
Dec. 16th, 2007 03:14 am (UTC)
Sorry -- I forgot the X-Files. When it was still good. Pre-Millenial angst, anyone? 'Cause of course, there was a whole contingent of literalists out there who thought the Year 2000 just might end it all.
cybertoothtiger
Dec. 16th, 2007 03:18 am (UTC)
X-post. In terms of ideas and content, I think the writer's strike will be over and they'll all come back with even better stuff. A writer never really stops working, even when on strike. In terms of economics, add on an actor's strike in the spring, and we could be in trouble.
sardonicynic
Dec. 16th, 2007 08:28 pm (UTC)
Oh, right on — so lovely to see a personal post from you!

I? Clearly need to run out and grab that book. Like, as soon as my fingers leave the keyboard. *g* I love that shows like 24 and Lost are being dissected in the context of popular culture and real-world dynamics. There was a class on 24 offered at Georgetown, and one on Lost at Tufts.

(For a Crime, Law and Deviance class I took back in the spring, I even managed to convince my professor to green-light a 24-centric proposal for our final paper assignment, and it was a ridiculous amount of fun doing research to tear down Jane Mayer's "Whatever It Takes" that ran in the New Yorker earlier this year.)

And here's hoping asinine, marshmallow, mind-numbing tripe like Farmer Takes a Wife and Big Brother 32 reminds everyone just how important our beloved television writers are. We need this Golden Age to continue, if only to ensure that collective brain-rot doesn't set in for good.
marinw
Dec. 16th, 2007 08:35 pm (UTC)
I read that paper when I was lurking on your journal! Great job.

Collective brain rot. Well said. Brings fear into my heart. Where art thou, Arnold? Terminate this strike.
sardonicynic
Dec. 16th, 2007 08:42 pm (UTC)
Aw, you're far too kind! Thank you — I had a lot of fun with it, but holy hell, did Alfred McCoy's A Question of Torture ever terrify and sicken me with its honesty and just-the-facts-ma'am Torture and Interrogation 101.

And, yes. Listen up, Governator, and help Hollywood out a little here. And, just to clarify? By "Hollywood," we mean the writers. Writers, sir. Not suits. *nods*

Ninja-edited to correct the title of McCoy's book that's glowering indignantly at me from the shelf. "Question," not "history." *grins, facepalms a little*

Edited at 2007-12-16 08:47 pm (UTC)
xandra73
Dec. 16th, 2007 10:05 pm (UTC)
How nice to see an entry of you! =) I just added you to my friends list yesterday and was a bit sad you didn't use your journal. Until now!

I'm glad to hear you enjoyed reading "24 and Philosophy: The World According to Jack". I haven't read it yet, but ordered it a couple of days ago and am eagerly waiting for it to arrive.

I really, really hope the Writers' Strike will end soon. I don't have a problem watching shows on DVD, since I'm way behind on almost everything except 24 anyway (we will start watching Lost Season 3 on Tuesday on DVD), but I realized the internet starts to get more and more uninteresting for me, since there are no more news about shows, about ratings and stuff. And I start to feel the dry-time for my website, struggling to find stuff to update the site. Usually this time of the year I'm chocked up with work preparing for the new season. And now? Nothing. :(((

One only needs to compare The A-Team to 24 (thank you, xbedhead) to appreciate how far the art of television has come.

Or Knight Rider. I was trying to watch an old episode a couple of days ago out of nostalgia. Not possible, it's so stupid. The A-Team still has it's funny moments, but there was so much crap on TV in the 80's, it's amazing how much has changed. I will be forever grateful to Twin Peaks to show the networks that people are actually interested in complex storylines.

What if this Golden Age is at an end due to forces beyond our control? That television will regress to a wasteland and celebrity gossip and reality shows? A sad thought.

I don't think that will happen. They had predicted YEARS ago that Reality TV will take over television and it never happened. If there is no place for it on TV anymore, it will move on to other media, but it won't go away.
marinw
Dec. 17th, 2007 01:59 am (UTC)
Great to hear from you. I admit to being a little bit pessimistic when I predicted the end of the Golden Age. I need to try to stop following the strike news. Thank you for the reassurance.

Your point about the websites running dry is a good one. I’ve almost stopped reading Television Without Pity.

Enjoy Season 3 of Lost.
( 20 comments — Leave a comment )