Was “24” Prescient? (Part 2)

Several weeks ago I blogged on the notion that the TV series “24” may have made Barack Obama a more acceptable candidate by acclimating America to President David Palmer, a character played by actor Dennis Haysbert. (I might note that my blog entry appeared several weeks before TV Guide offered the same analysis. You heard it here first folks!)

After deeper consideration, sadly, I have to revise my view. In “24” race was never mentioned. The only reason we knew Palmer was African-American was by looking at him. No one ever brought up racial issues with him. He never self-identified. It was treated as a simple matter of fact. In that way, “24” was not prescient. The Obama/Clinton contest is immersed in race. On every primary and caucus night we analyze for whom whites voted and for whom blacks voted. We project what the black community will do should Obama not get the nomination. We obsess on his name and what garb he is wearing in various photographs.

I once thought that Barack’s success reflected that America was at last transcending race. We had finally put it aside. But the truth is that only a deeply racist country could spend as much time focusing on race in this campaign as we have.



3 thoughts on “Was “24” Prescient? (Part 2)

  1. I don’t know, Mr. Rutherford. It is true, the campaign is immersed in race – but it is equally immersed in gender. The shocking issue of women feeling like gender traitors by voting for Obama, the questions of whether a woman will be president – it is the other version of the same story. We are no more racist than sexist.

    I do also wonder to what extent this is a manifestation of our underlying beliefs – or some lens pulled out by the media and pollsters. Even in an ‘all white man’ election, the media reports on racial and gender affinities for candidates. It isn’t at all surprising that the same measuring stick is pulled out for this election.

    At the end of the day, I would like to think most people see race and gender as a part of their candidate’s person – no more than their intellect or experience, but no less, either. It is part of who they are, part of what we vote for. And for my part, I will vote for Obama because of everything he represents.

  2. I remember watching “24” those first two seasons and thinking “I want a president like that – decent, honorable, thoughtful, level-headed, and intelligent”. I didn’t care what he looked like, but I felt such a hunger to have someone decent to vote for. “24” may have reminded more people than just me that it was possible to feel something other than cynicism. Even if the skin color was underplayed on tv and overplayed in real life, I still think the show played a role is showing us something we may not have thought was possible and making us think, well, why not?

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