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Surf Report

24 took some hits earlier this year over its portrayal of a Muslim-American family as a terrorist cell, but for a show dependent on stoking viewers’ fears about the world we live in, it was a natural debate to have. Then in last week’s episode, we discovered that the liberal, mealy-mouthed hippie son of William Devane’s hawkish Defense Secretary had inadvertently aided the terrorists’ grand scheme through a gay one-night stand. It was frankly appalling to see the homosexual-as-unwitting-traitor label rear its ugly head, even on so resolutely conservative a show as 24. “You made a profound mistake today,” Devane intones, supposedly referring to the fact that his son didn’t impart the information about the terrorists earlier, but the subtext is unmistakable. Of course, this drama’s valiant counter-terrorism operatives are routinely finding their hetero interoffice romances getting in the way of their jobs, but these conflicts are presented as noble, tortured and heroic, even when they end badly as evil is vanquished. I guess straight love means the terrorists don’t win.


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