PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.


Keifer Sutherland defends the politics of '24'

Roger Catlin
The Hartford Courant (MCT)

PASADENA, Calif. — Another season of '24' is upon us, and once more Keifer Sutherland is fielding questions about its politics, which he thinks has been right down the middle.

"We had the first African-American on television playing a president. We indicted a conservative president for criminal behavior," Sutherland told the TV critics press tour. "Jack Bauer, to me, has always been the most apolitical character, very much like the Secret Service. You don't protect a president because of your political beliefs. That's your job, and you serve that president, regardless," he says.

"One of the things that I was always so unbelievably proud of our show is that you could have it being discussed by former President Bill Clinton and Rush Limbaugh at the same time, both using it and citing it to justify their points of view," Sutherland says. "That, to me, was incredibly balanced."

And so, he says, "it was balanced from the very beginning. And I believe it is still balanced today."

But there was one exception, he said.

There was a dialog in season seven between Bauer and the by-the-book FBI agent about one of the shows most controversial strains: torture.

"I thought that was an unbelievably clever and brave thing to do. And I would have to say that's the only time we consciously addressed a specific political issue in the context of the show," Sutherland says.

"Whenever you describe politics as informing the drama of something, it's, by definition, propaganda or uninteresting," says producer Howard Gordon. "You want to take characters that would have credibility — Cherry (Jones)'s character last year, for example, (President) Allison Taylor, has a very, very specific stand and a very thoughtful and very well-considered and very deeply felt stand about this. And she defends it, I think, remarkably."

And though the drama reflects the world's political powder keg, sometimes it's not too specific about the countries, such as the Middle Eastern country that is of immediate interest this season. Through the first four episodes, though negotiations go on with its president at the United Nations, it's scarcely named.

"When you begin to name countries other than, of course, the United States or China or Russia, you start getting into some very tricky territory. And by definition, you're going to say things that you don't necessarily want to say because this is, after all, a fantasy adventure show. And so really simply, not even out of political correctness, but out of sensitivity to the real world, which is so much more complex, we just would rather not step into that thicket."

(It's the Islamic Republic of Kamistan),

Sometimes, Sutherland says his Bauer persona precedes him in the complex world, though sometimes it surprises him.

"I've always been shocked that people that actually I'm flying with say, 'Oh, I feel safer on the plane,'" he said. "I'm thinking: 'You must not watch the show because everybody around me gets killed.'"

"24" returns with a two-hour premiere Sunday.


Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.





The Power of Restraint in Sophie Yanow, Paco Roca, and Elisa Macellari's New Graphic Novels

The magical quality that makes or breaks a graphic novel lies somewhere in that liminal space in which art and literature intersect.


'People of the City' Is an Unrelenting Critique of Colonial Ideology and Praxis

Cyprian Ekwensi's People of the City is a vivid tale of class struggle and identity reclamation in the shadows of colonialism's reign.


1979's 'This Heat' Remains a Lodestone for Avant-Rock Adventure

On their self-titled debut, available for the first time on digital formats, This Heat delivered an all-time classic stitched together from several years of experiments.


'The Edge of Democracy' and Parallels of Political Crises

Academy Award-nominated documentary The Edge of Democracy, now streaming on Netflix, lays bare the political parallels of the rise of Bolsonaro's Brazil with Trump's America.


The Pogues' 'The BBC Sessions 1984-1986' Honors Working-Class Heroes

The Pogues' BBC Sessions 1984-1986 is a welcome chapter in the musical story of these working-class heroes, who reminded listeners of the beauty and dignity of the strong, sooty backs upon which our industrialized world was built.


Mary Halvorson Creates Cacophony to Aestheticize on 'Artlessly Falling'

Mary Halvorson's Artlessly Falling is a challenging album with tracks comprised of improvisational fragments more than based on compositional theory. Halvorson uses the various elements to aestheticize the confusing world around her.


15 Overlooked and Underrated Albums of the 1990s

With every "Best of the '90s" retrospective comes a predictable list of entries. Here are 15 albums that are often overlooked as worthy of placing in these lists, and are too often underrated as some of the best records from the decade.


'A Peculiar Indifference' Takes on Violence in Black America

Pulitzer Prize finalist Elliott Currie's scrupulous investigation of the impacts of violence on Black Americans, A Peculiar Indifference, shows the damaging effect of widespread suffering and identifies an achievable solution.


20 Songs From the 1990s That Time Forgot

Rather than listening to Spotify's latest playlist, give the tunes from this reminiscence of lost '90s singles a spin.


Delightful 'Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day' Is Good Escapism

Now streaming on Amazon Prime, Bharat Nalluri's 2008 romantic comedy, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, provides pleasant respite in these times of doom and gloom.


The 10 Best Horror Movie Remakes

The horror genre has produced some remake junk. In the case of these ten treats, the update delivers something definitive.


Flirting with Demons at Home, or, When TV Movies Were Evil

Just in time for Halloween, a new Blu-ray from Kino Lorber presents sparkling 2K digital restorations of TV movies that have been missing for decades: Fear No Evil (1969) and its sequel, Ritual of Evil (1970).


Magick Mountain Are Having a Party But Is the Audience Invited?

Garage rockers Magick Mountain debut with Weird Feelings, an album big on fuzz but light on hooks.


Aalok Bala Revels in Nature and Contradiction on EP 'Sacred Mirror'

Electronic musician Aalok Bala knows the night is not a simple mirror, "silver and exact"; it phases and echoes back, alive, sacred.


Clipping Take a Stab at Horrorcore with the Fiery 'Visions of Bodies Being Burned'

Clipping's latest album, Visions of Bodies Being Burned, is a terrifying, razor-sharp sequel to their previous ode to the horror film genre.


Call Super's New LP Is a Digital Biosphere of Insectoid and Otherworldly Sounds

Call Super's Every Mouth Teeth Missing is like its own digital biosphere, rife with the sounds of the forest and the sounds of the studio alike.


Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.


15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.