Like many of my peers, I'm a fan of the Fox show 24. I blame my roommate, Angry Block - I initially had no intention of ever watching the show (although I did end up getting involved in the show Alias for the sake of a now ex-girlfriend), but he insisted that our whole apartment watch the first season, which he had purchased on DVD. We obliged, and were immediately sucked in. The other three of us resolved that we wouldn't watch any more of it, as it took up so much time. Watching a whole season of 24 in a month takes a lot more time than if you watch it over five months (five times as much, as it turns out).
Season five started this January. Angry Block parked in front of the TV that first night, absolutely riveted. Remembering how much time I had lost during the month of November, I stayed as far away as I could. However, the next evening (it was a special two-day event for the premiere), Uffish Thought invited Angry Block and I over to watch it with her. This put me in a bit of a bind; I don't mind saying no to Angry Block, since he's a really good friend, but I feel a bit worse turning down someone I'm not quite as close to. Begrudgingly, I said yes. I brought my Soviet history textbook with me and went to go watch the episode.
Predictably, I was hooked. The show just felt so real to me. The episode in question showed an airport being held hostage, and Jack Bauer had to sneak in and save the day by shooting all kinds of people. It was pretty cool. I was so involved with the show that I came home and pulled up CNN.com, fully expecting to see updates on the terrorist situation at Ontario Aiport. It gets inside my head. It's amazing.
Let me be clear, though. I don't think I'm quite as into the show as I'm making myself sound here. I like the show, of course - I think it's interesting, otherwise I wouldn't watch it - but it doesn't have the power over me that it does over other people I know. I watch it mostly so I can fit into my society. I know lots of other people that watch the show, and thus watching it myself gives me a sense of connection to them. It's strange, because I generally end up watching the show alone. It's an interesting society we live in where we can feel connected as we grow further apart. Go figure. An author years ago wrote about the "culture of sight and sound" created in America. We have a shared identity because we have all seen and heard the same things. The example he used in the book was that of Life magazine, but I think it applies just as readily to television. I have the same reactions to a show like 24 that anyone else in the country would. I haven't met these people, but I can connect with them through the show. The U.S. Army unwittingly made use of this idea during WWII. Sometimes German soldiers would sneak into American ranks unknown to others. To weed them out, sometimes commanding officers would ask soldiers questions like, "Who is Mickey Mouse's girlfriend?" Any American would know the answer without any hesitation. Germans, by and large, would not. The image of Mickey Mouse unifies us as a country - perhaps as much as, or even more than, images like the flag and the bald eagle.
Maybe I'm just doing my patriotic duty by watching 24, then. I can't hardly be considered an American if I don't know everything Jack Bauer did last week and if I don't consider Miles to be a complete idiot (and don't worry, I do; I was shouting and screaming at the TV when he called President Logan and said he would intervene with the recording).
In other, unrelated news, I changed the title of the blog. I'd been meaning to use the word "Optimystique" for some time now. The blog title just seemed appropriate. Also, this week's installation of Indie Movie Night will take place tomorrow (5/10) night at 9:15. Come and see Lost in Translation with us. Email me if you need directions.