December 14, 2014 4:00 pm -

Brian Lowry at Variety writes about “The 24 Effect” and how so-called “liberal Hollywood” has been an ally of conservatives and the Bush administration when it comes to torture.


[su_thin_right_skyscraper_ad]Fox’s “24,” naturally, comes to mind, and the movie “Zero Dark Thirty,” which was criticized for its depiction of torture as a likely asset in locating Osama Bin Laden. Surprisingly, director Kathryn Bigelow seemed tongue-tied when Jon Stewart benignly asked her about the film during a recent appearance promoting another project in the wake the Torture Report’s conclusions.

The practice has been employed in other series as well – such as “Sons of Anarchy,” “Scandal” and “Homeland” – and countless movies, from the bad guys who use it (see various Quentin Tarantino films) to the ostensible good guys.

Indeed, torture is used by both heroes and villains, the main difference being that the former do so grudgingly, instead of sadistically, and, when the tables are turned, usually don’t give up information. “24’s” Jack Bauer, for example, took it as well as he dished it out, and James Bond was still cracking jokes while enduring a brutal beating in the most recent “Casino Royale.”

While the latest report called into question the efficacy of torture, as the Washington Post’s Terrence McCoy put it, “that’s not how it looks on TV. Harsh interrogation, as an effective means of eliciting crucial information, has become firmly entrenched in popular culture.”

Not only has torture become more frequent since the Sept. 11 terror attacks, but the acceptance of those depictions in entertainment has been cited as a point of reference – and even an endorsement of the tactics…

Since one of the more discussed enhanced interrogation techniques involved waterboarding, Hollywood was at least one of the constituencies that, wittingly or not, helped carry the CIA’s water.

D.B. Hirsch
D.B. Hirsch is a political activist, news junkie, and retired ad copy writer and spin doctor. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

23 responses to Lowry: How ‘Liberal Hollywood’ Carried Water For Torture

  1. Carla Akins December 14th, 2014 at 4:02 pm

    So the blame goes to fictional accounts. Do I need to worry about being a muggle?

    • arc99 December 14th, 2014 at 4:24 pm

      Right wingers will latch on to any BS if they think they can spin it to reflect negatively on liberals.

      But I don’t think you need worry yourself about being a muggle.

      However those damn open borders make us extremely vulnerable to a Klingon invasion.

    • cogitoergodavesum December 14th, 2014 at 6:17 pm

      The real danger, of course – Daleks.
      Exterminate! Exterminate!!! Exterminate!!!!!

      • Carla Akins December 14th, 2014 at 7:24 pm

        You mean R2D2’s cousin?

      • Banned_From_Breitbart December 15th, 2014 at 12:28 am

        We used to amuse ourselves for what seemed like hours talking into electric fans to get that warble effect.

        • bpollen December 15th, 2014 at 2:20 am

          I’ve heard tell that Ozzy used a fan for the warble in “Iron Man.”

  2. arc99 December 14th, 2014 at 4:34 pm

    Here is a 2009 interview with Keifer Sutherland. Couldn’t have said this better myself, other than to add that the big, big problem Sutherland refers to, is that people like Lowry apparently are idiots.

    “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.”

  3. tracey marie December 14th, 2014 at 4:53 pm

    You have got to be kidding…these are movies, fantasy, not real and not documentaries

    • burqa December 14th, 2014 at 11:50 pm

      Yeah, but that’s just it. Often people don’t differentiate.
      They watch the news, then they watch ideological shows like Hannity and forget which gave them a certain “fact.”
      It all gets mixed together.
      Recently I watched a Fox news broadcast that was supposed to be straight news stories and they had 6 people with ideological biases in a row (all conservative, natch) and not a one was a journalist doing real reporting.
      This is why shows like Hannity and O’Reilly follow the news – because people just leave the TV running.

      • tracey marie December 15th, 2014 at 12:15 pm

        only in the weak, fearful and paranoid types

  4. toncuz December 14th, 2014 at 5:10 pm

    Our slow descent into a more barbaric society is primarily the fault of the right-wing and their penchant for wanting to do violence to answer every problem in America (carpet bombing as foreign policy, executions of the mentally retarded and the innocent, love of gun ownership regardless if the owner is a mass murdering psychopath).

    A certain few on the left are also to blame for glamorizing killing and torture and trying to be clever in their marketing…”It’s ok, that we teach your kids that violence is the answer…the bad guys are slave-owners or Nazis”. (see any Quentin Tarantino movie as his target audience is the fifteen year old male reject).

    For once I actually…almost…agree with Lowry.

  5. William December 14th, 2014 at 6:02 pm

    This is the same mentality that blames armed violence on video games.

  6. uzza December 14th, 2014 at 7:07 pm

    The head general at West Point took several experienced interrogators to Holly wood to
    ask the producers of “24” to stop, because they were seeing troops in Iraq mimicking what they saw on the show.
    Even after these experts, with real experience in the field, told them they were hurting the US military’s efforts and aiding the enemy, they kept right on. There are laws against that, e.g. Article 3§2 of the Constitution.

    Those who insist that watching fiction and fantasy will not affect people’s behavior need to explain why a 30 second ad on the Superbowl is worth 4.5 million dollars.

  7. fahvel December 14th, 2014 at 7:13 pm

    what’s the surprise? people have been torturing each other for thousands of years and today is the finest day – modern techno shit and all that can’t beat the old water board. The absurdity of it all is that countries that torture today think that their elite place gives them rights when little people who lop off a head or three or four are evil beasts – pure crap folks!!!

  8. Jones December 14th, 2014 at 8:00 pm

    There is also the trend for the good guy to kill the bad guy instead of arresting him. People used to cheer for the hero making the right decision, now they cheer for the summary execution of the villain.

    • Banned_From_Breitbart December 15th, 2014 at 12:26 am

      Don’t forget about the bad guy getting r****d in prison… by another bad guy, of course, but nearly everybody seems to be on some sort of stupid drug nowadays…

  9. Jones December 14th, 2014 at 8:04 pm

    Even on TV the Police State is portrayed as normal. Police in crime shows never come with a warrant anymore…they come with a swat team bursting down doors and guns drawn.

    • fancypants December 14th, 2014 at 11:16 pm

      those tv shows really know how to explain the patriot act and how it works

  10. burqa December 14th, 2014 at 11:45 pm

    “ “I find the interrogation scenes in the television show ‘24’ repulsive, absurd and even idiotic,” said Katherine Sherwood, a civilian interrogator for the Department of Defense who spoke at the convention. “If I am talking to a bombmaker, I am not trying to get him to tell me he is a bombmaker. I want him to tell me what students he trained, what their nationalities are, what materials he used and who was funding the project.”
    Such Hollywood scenarios, Sherwood said, fail to recognize that the central utility of interrogations is in building a lattice of interconnections that can inform military and civilian policymakers.
    “Interrogations are about gathering breadth or depth of information,” Sherwood said. “It is not about getting to a single moment of a confession.” ”

    “APA Rules on Interrogation Abuse Psychologists’ Group Bars Member Participation in Certain Techniques,” by Shankar Vedantam, Washington Post, August 20, 2007, page A3

  11. Banned_From_Breitbart December 15th, 2014 at 12:23 am

    The so-called “Liberal Media” has been right wing ever since movie mogul L.B. Mayer ran shorts attacking then-Democratic Party candidate for California governor Upton Sinclair in his movie theaters. The fact that Hollywood tolerates gays does not make it liberal. Liberals embrace gays but gays do not necessarily embrace liberalism–in fact in many cases the opposite is true.

    I know that I started to “gag” on Law and Order long before I learned the Jerry Orbach was a winger. I remember being shocked at how people I knew fawned over “24” when the barest description of the plot line made me want to retch. Even sci-fi shows like Farscape gave filips to torture.

    In the early years of the Bush administration, the media houses were being paid to introduce anti-drug messages, but it could have simply been the right-wing military-industrial-media complex being itself.

  12. ChrisVosburg December 15th, 2014 at 12:30 am

    Greetings from Hollywood.

    Permit me to respond to Brian Lowry in Varietyspeak:


  13. User December 15th, 2014 at 6:33 am

    “Bush and Conservative” hahahha you idiot hacks forgot to list your boy Obama in the article as well…. What clown wrote this tripe?!?