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“24” going off the air, and it’s about time

I may be a peace-loving, diplomacy advocating, human rights junky, but nothing gets me more excited than fictional terrorist killing.
The first half hour of “Predator” is cinematic gold (the rest is hit or miss for totally different, mostly Carl Weathers-related reasons). I’ve seen “True Lies” at least a dozen times.
I’ve played through enough Tom Clancy-inspired video games to feel like I’ve stopped at least a score of terrorist attacks.
Still, I can’t get enough of the crossover of high crime and international espionage. It’s the near-perfect combination of pseudo-intellectualism and itchy trigger-fingers.
The entertainment industry has been happy to spit out products like this for more than two decades, and over time, they’ve gotten better and matured into something more consumable.
Whether it be the cinematic bliss of the Russian car chase scene in “The Bourne Supremacy” or the immersive fun of Sam Fisher’s bullet time in “Splinter Cell: Conviction,” the fist pounding machismo of the fictional counter-intelligence world has become a fun place to waste a few hours or a few days.
And that’s why it’s so sad to watch one of the kings of the genre die.
Fans have known that FOX’s former dynamo “24” was going off the air, and most had resigned themselves to knowing that the show’s quality had lowered dramatically.
No longer was Jack Bauer a rage-filled secret agent that would do anything for his country. Instead he was a mostly incoherent madman, running down city blocks, screaming and waving firearms like a junky on a bender.
Much of Jack Bauer and, by extension, the show’s appeal, came from tapping into the cultural zeitgeist.
“24” was popular at the start of the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq War patriotism. By the time Bauer was first electrocuting detainees and savagely beating people in locked rooms, the U.S. government was doing considerably worse at Abu Gharib and Guantanamo Bay. Bauer made it look necessary, right and justified and sold it to a packed American audience as the right thing to do.
I came late to “24” and mostly saw it through the lens of anti-Bush sentiments. It didn’t take long for audiences and critics to find ethical problems with the stance the show took toward torture and counterterrorism.
By 2008, the show took drastic turns to satisfy audiences by having the characters deal with new ethical guidelines. It was hard to imagine “24” would be successful in Obama’s America.
And it wasn’t.
Even before he was elected, “24” had become old and grizzled in all the wrong ways.
Certainly, one can blame it on the show being on for seven seasons, but the times had also changed. What was once riotously entertaining was now sleazy and pandering. “24” was a product of the times, and its time had run out.
But, of course, the writing had become terrible too.
The president is blackmailing a country to go through with a weird peace agreement because she has longstanding family and trust issues.
I mean, c’mon.
Jackson Adams is sophomore journalism major from Springfield. He is the Scout managing editor.
Direct comments, questions and other responses to jadams@mail.bradley.edu.