Peace through victory - the American way.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

You Are Not Jack Bauer.

According to Timothy Carney writing at National Review Online (here), Jack Bauer is Everyman. Carney comes close when he puts Bauer in a line of heroes that stretches back to the Old West:
The American hero is the cowboy: He is Maverick, he is Han Solo, he is Batman (though, when Batman is in trouble, he turns on the Jack Bauer signal), he is the rag-tag minuteman fighting the well-trained Lobsterbacks.

So Jack Bauer is not Big Brother, and he is not the establishment. Jack Bauer was expelled from CTU and he disobeys orders. He does what needs to be done and he does it in his own way. (Jack Bauer once played Russian roulette with a fully loaded gun, and won.) He is the fitting heir to Rambo and Maverick.

And like Rambo and Maverick, Bauer’s inhuman excellence (Jack Bauer, for example, could strangle you with a cordless phone) still doesn’t keep us from identifying with him. “Jack Bauer is an everyman,” Writer and Executive Producer Howard Gordon said on Friday, “he is the guy who stands for that American, can-do thing.”
Let's leave Rambo out of it, shall we? That dude is just messed up.

Jack Bauer is a contemporary version of an Old West hero but not the ordinary cowboy hero who fights to defend himself and what's his as best he can. No, Bauer is too expert a killer to be a modern version of the cowboy, an Everyman.

Instead Bauer is the gunslinger who fights for the good guys. Like the gunslinger before him Bauer is a professional who fights with expert skills to protect other people who are less able to protect themselves.

We mortals may admire Bauer and be inspired by him to fight as well, but we can never be him. He's too professional, and he's too much an outsider for the ordinary person to be like him.

As we put it before, Jack Bauer is Shane. (Here.) Like Shane Bauer is a professional killer who operates outside the law to protect civilization because sometimes that's what civilization needs to protect itself. The problem for heroes like that is they have no place in civilization when the fighting stops. That's why Shane has to ride away at the end of his movie, and that's why Jack Bauer's personal life is always in such turmoil. In fact, some say that Shane is dying from his wounds as he rides away. Bauer probably has a bullet waiting for him in his future too.

Sorry, Audrey. When all this is over, Jack won't be hanging up his guns and settling down to a lifetime of domestic bliss. No, he'll be getting the hell out of Dodge. Maybe not because he wants to, but because he has to.


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