Villains and Villainy: Embodiments of Evil in Literature, Popular Culture and Media.
All in all, I believe that if there is anything any trait of his personality that makes it ultimately villainous, it seems to be the increasing instrumentalism - he objectifies everyone, people he chooses to sacrifice, people he chooses to save, colleagues, friends and enemies alike. In this perspective Jack appears similar to other instances of fallen angels, characters whose pride and self-righteousness, overreaching ambition led them to compromises and, in the end, into a fall into moral grey area, but who are not pure villains perhaps they are antiheroes, with qualifications mentioned above , such as Faust or some representations of Satan.
On the other hand, showing it on popular TV show, being open about it may help to justify it and could make these kinds of choices much easier than they should be — they should be hard, difficult, agonizing, not a normal way to deal with things. How about defending Jack on the ground of virtue ethics?
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In fact, most terrorists we encounter in the show have the same virtues. Virtuousness may therefore play a role of smokescreen for most hideous acts and may make us admire people who commit them American enemies. He is ready to sacrifice himself should the need arise, resistant to temptation, blackmail or torture, enduring, courageous, etc, just as his adversaries are. He endured two years of torture in Chinese prison, whereas others e.
However, I hope I will not distort or misunderstand his intensions by suggesting that in the case of a TV show that allows for transformations of the main character in a long time- span and in the face of various circumstances, experiences and situations, the concept of virtue wheel can be applied to a single character that displays different levels of virtuousness in the course of narration. Jack Bauer could, therefore, be interpreted as exemplifying the wheel of heroism and villainy. Heroes and villains are, therefore, indiscernible on the basis of virtues, motives and, least of all, actions.
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The only criterion is whether at a given moment they are with us or rather: useful for us of against us. As the show develops there is really not much of a difference left between Jack and terrorists. There is only a purely technical question of how to stop them.
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Enemies have faces, causes, reasons often personal, that Jack understands and relates to, but that does not stop him. This is the fight between two groups of fanatics, equally unwilling to listen, reason or find the consensus. There is yet another perspective from which Jack is not a heroic villain, but heroic victim. Stephen Snyder seems to follow this is the line of interpretation of this character. He concentrates on the fact, that for every unacceptable action chosen by Jack he has to pay the price of sacrificing something dear to him.
Even if the viewer is personally and generally against torture, the show makes it easy to believe that in case of Bauer it actually is the necessary and right thing to do.
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Along with the reasons I mentioned above such as the visual and narrative formal construction of the show emphasizing time pressure there are two other reasons. Firstly, torture, when conducted by Jack Bauer, is amazingly and, it must be added, falsely effective: in just a few seconds up to minutes of torture he extracts information he needs and it is always reliable.
What is more, he has a circle of believers who trust him unconditionally and are ready for anything to follow their prophet. This scene is visually constructed to make it look as a huge sacrifice on the part of Jack. Jack suffers but does what has to be done. For Jack can never simply work, he has to sacrifice.
But the evaluation of this character is a complex task, because he is not only willing to sacrifice other people, he is constantly putting his life at stake, though not unconditionally: he applies his famous difference between dying for something and dying for nothing. From that point of view the construction of this figure is such that suggests is a villain, but the one we love. I believe that we will get a glimpse of a more obvious villain in new season, Day 8. As I am writing these words the new Season has just started and in the opening five episodes aired so far Jack seems to have changed and his role along with his lines are transcribed to his creation: Renee.
Jack is tired and retired, but the world just cannot leave him alone and let him be, let him fight his flaw. In CTU it is his most faithful former accomplice, Chloe, who persuades him to follow the lead ignored by officials, but Jack answers that it is not his problem and that he had already done all that he could.
Finally it is Kim, his daughter and a victim of his previous choices, that changes his mind and whose blessing finally lets Jack be who he is. As soon as this is over Jack will stamp upon next mission only he can accomplish. But then Renee shows up: the empty-eyed a parody of Jack. Jack created a monster, a monstrous, broken version of his earlier self, by which he himself is appalled. Whether Renee will pay the price, whether Jack will resist his fate, remains yet to be seen.
But whether it is Hobbes or Schmidt, this world is unbearable: in the end, even in Hobbesian vision people had reasons to abandon the state of nature, the state of homo homini lupus.
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In our world he, at most times, remains a villain, or at least his actions should be judged as villainous. Johnson actually refers to 24 as an example of how social networks to follow in TV drama got more complex, sophisticated and demanding. TV against the Clock, I. Taurus, London and New York , p. The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, vol.
Bibliography Arenas, E. Carroll, N. Claycomb, B. De Wijze, S. Howard, D. Taurus, London and New York , pp. Johnson, S. Riverhead Books, New York, London, Kelly, T.
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Mayer, J. Michlin, M. Snyder, S. Zimbardo, P. Random House, Michigan, Zizek, S. Related Papers. By Dave Nguyen. Moral Emotions, Antiheroes and the Limits of Allegiance By Alberto N. By benjamin van tourhout. Download pdf. Remember me on this computer.
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Embodiments of Evil in Literature, Popular Culture and Media
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Villains and villainy : embodiments of evil in literature, popular culture and media
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