Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Juan Cole Talks "Heroes" & American Politics




Nothing goes better together than sci fi and politics. Whether it's the philosophical dystopian Matrix Trilogy, or Marvel's foray into bigotry through the X-Men. So it was a treat to see one of my favorite analysts of Mid East affairs Juan Cole, who blogs at Informed Comment, talk politics about NBC's hit series "Heroes." Looking at the obvious inspirations of the show, namely the obsession with security in post-9/11 America, Cole points out how the worldview of "Heroes" clashes with the Bush White House's "1 percent doctrine" on terrorism.



Heroes- Dick Cheney's least favorite TV show?

Why the worldview of "Heroes" clashes with the vice president's "1 percent doctrine" on terrorism.

By Juan Cole

http://www.salon.com/opinion/feature/2007/05/30/heroes/

May. 30, 2007 NBC's hit series "Heroes" was the most-watched new show on network television this year despite its demanding plot lines and stretches of subtitled Japanese. Its season finale, which aired May 21, dominated the 9 p.m. time slot. What explains the show's popularity, especially with younger viewers? I think it is that, like the Fox thriller "24," "Heroes" is a response to Sept. 11 and the rise of international terrorism. But while "24" skews to the right politically, "Heroes" seems like a left-wing response to those events. In fact, it functions as a thoughtful critique of Vice President Dick Cheney's doctrine on counterterrorism.

In Bush and Cheney's "war on terror," the evildoers are external and are clearly discernible. In "Heroes," each person agonizes over the evil within, a point of view more common on the political left than on the right. Each of the flawed characters is capable of both nobility and iniquity. In Bush's vision, the main threat remains rival states (Saddam's Iraq, Ahmadinejad's Iran). States are absent from "Heroes," as though irrelevant. "Heroes" makes terrorism a universal and psychological issue rather than one attached to a clash of civilizations or to a particular race.

In its commentary on terror, "Heroes" thus avoids the caffeinated Islamophobia of "24." And at a time when "24," a favorite of older Republicans, is fading in the ratings, "Heroes" may also be a better guide to where the thinking of the young, post-Bush generation is heading when it comes to terror. It's certainly where their eyes are going. NBC's "Heroes" runs opposite Fox's "24" on Monday nights and snags a higher total of younger viewers, while the median age of "24" viewers keeps rising. As "Heroes" star Adrian Pasdar, who plays politician Nathan Petrelli, explained in an interview before this season's finale, "On Monday nights we own the demographics." He was referring to winning the ratings battle among the all-important 18-49 age group that advertisers love.

"Heroes" posits a world in which a small number of persons have been born with extraordinary powers drawn from the standard science fiction repertory. The powers include levitating objects, mind reading, flying, miraculous healing, bursting into flames and, as with the painter Isaac Mendez (Santiago Cabrera), prophesying the future. The plot that drives the first season has to do with a prophetic painting by Mendez that shows New York City being blown up. The bomb is not mechanical but is a human being, a mutant, who cannot control his powers and will ultimately explode in the midst of the city if not stopped. For much of the season the mutants do not know exactly who will explode or when, but they know it will happen unless they prevent it.

For full article:

Heroes- Dick Cheney's Least Favorite TV show?

10 comments:

'kina said...

I did not know Heroes was that popular...or acute. I wished I had DVR so that I could watch the old episodes

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