Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Fiction Vs. Reality: A Primer

Would someone please remind the dumber Republicans among us that Jack Bauer is a fictional character?
Senior judges from North America and Europe were in the midst of a panel discussion about torture and terrorism law, when a Canadian judge’s passing remark - “Thankfully, security agencies in all our countries do not subscribe to the mantra ‘What would Jack Bauer do?’ ” - got the legal bulldog in [Justice Antonin Scalia] barking.

The conservative jurist stuck up for Agent Bauer, arguing that fictional or not, federal agents require latitude in times of great crisis. “Jack Bauer saved Los Angeles. … He saved hundreds of thousands of lives,” Judge Scalia said. Then, recalling Season 2, where the agent’s rough interrogation tactics saved California from a terrorist nuke, the Supreme Court judge etched a line in the sand.

“Are you going to convict Jack Bauer?” Judge Scalia challenged his fellow judges. “Say that criminal law is against him? ‘You have the right to a jury trial?’ Is any jury going to convict Jack Bauer? I don’t think so.”

I’m a writer. So let me explain something to conservatives about the creative process. When writers, you know, write, they control the outcome of the story line. They “play God,” as it were. That means they can do things like allow Jack Bauer to save Los Angeles, make terrorists cough up terror plot details under torture, save the girl tied to the train tracks, make the good guys win and the bad guys lose, give the nerdy guy the pretty girl, allow people to take multiple gunshot wounds and still not die, etc. etc. etc.

Now, here’s the tricky part: This is not real life. These are plot points and story devices based on imaginary situations and characters. Some of them may even be based on what we call archetypes, which is what Jack Bauer is: the lone hero archetype.

Real life is not fair, or easy, or black and white. Real life is hard. It’s not television.

And for you truly dumb Republicans out there, I’m sure this is gonna come up this summer, so let me get ahead of the game here: Bruce Willis is an actor. John McClane is a character in the Die Hard movies. These do not depict real incidents.

You might want to print this out and tape it to the bathroom mirror of your favorite conservative or Supreme Court Justice.

And now, I’m going to go bang my head on a wall.