August 6, 2008
‘24’ producer Howard Gordon : Our only politics is to have an exciting show
Howard Gordon, 47, is an Emmy Award winner and executive producer of the hit action series, "24," which portrays the life of Jack Bauer, an agent in the Los Angeles branch of the U.S. Counter Terrorist Unit. |
Later this year, the American Jewish Congress, Western Region will give Gordon the Stephen S. Wise Award for his contributions in helping the American public understand the threat of terrorism.
Jewish Journal: '24' has been praised for fast-paced and complex plots. On the other hand, some critics have objected to the excessive number of torture scenes and the show's "ticking-time-bomb" premise that if you don't beat the information out of the suspect quickly, America will suffer irreparable damage.
Howard Gordon: The charge that we may be promoting Islamophobia is not entirely specious. You referred earlier to a giant billboard for our show along the 405 Freeway, which showed a recognizable Muslim family with the warning: 'They Could Be Next Door.' This was put up by the Fox promotion department without our knowledge, but I can see why it caused a fair amount of disgruntlement among Muslim advocacy groups.
On the other hand, we have also been accused of being pro-Obama, because we once featured an African American actor as a presidential candidate. We also hear that the show has a right-wing agenda, which is absurd. The only politics is to have an exciting show.
JJ: So how do you draw the line between putting on an exciting show and your responsibility as a citizen and human being?
HG: That's a question we weigh very carefully. The old excuse, 'It's only a TV show, so it doesn't matter,' doesn't hold water anymore. Yet our ticking-time-bomb narrative, the constant sense of urgency, that's an unreal conceit. You get an unreal picture of the real world, by and large.
HG: We had a visit from a high-ranking West Point officer, who said that his cadets were not only great fans of our show but were actually taking their cues from Jack Bauer. That was very disconcerting. We subsequently put out a public service announcement that our show presented a very hyped-up version of reality.
HG: Well, I've had to confront my own sensitivities and proclivities. I am very pro-Israel, I love Israel, I consider it the Jewish homeland, but I am also not just a rubber stamp for Israeli policies. I am an advocate for a strong Israel, but I am also an advocate for peace.
HG: I take the Gallup figures at face value. There is widespread ignorance and contempt of Muslims and a streak of that in the United States, as well.
Unfortunately, we know so little about each other and, with the stakes so high, that's not a good thing.