Himmlers of Hollywood

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I link to this Guardian article by everyone’s favorite Slovenian lit. critic Slavoj Zizek. He here criticizes the representation of torture on 24., with a particular focus on Season 4. Now I have all sorts of problems with the representation of torture on the show, for any number of reasons, but Zizek does a disservice to these arguments in what amounts to a really pretty confused account. It’s for me a paradigmatic example of what’s bad about the humanities right now; no one seems to be able to marshall a coherent argument to save his or her life. In this piece, for example, Zizek first says that 24 is ideological (and therefore bad) because it shows that people can live normal lives after torturing people; then he says well ok, maybe people can actually really live normal lives even after they torture people, but in that case 24 is even worse because its characters are able to detach themselves from the suffering they inflict; then finally he says, well, all this torture stuff used to be secrative, but what does it say about us that we’re no longer being secretive about the fact that we’re torturing people. It says that we’re all pretty bad, which is perhaps arguable (although I don’t know that open torture is worse than secret torture to the torture victim), but really has nothing to do with 24 as such. A shame.