Jack Bauer wants you to join him in fighting global warming - or else. At the end of last week's episode of 24, the terror-fighting Fox TV series, star Kiefer Sutherland popped up just minutes after Tasering a suspect he was questioning to urge viewers to join him and the Fox network in "helping solve the climate problem."
This week, his co-star Cherry Jones, who plays the President, made a similar appeal after a harrowing hour in which she narrowly survived an invasion of the White House by a squad of terrorists.
I shouldn't have been surprised. The 24 PSAs are just the latest manifestation of media mogul Rupert Murdoch's sweeping campaign to instill green messages into his newspapers, TV shows, movies and online entities. Two years ago, he announced his intent to raise climate action in all his outlets and make parent News Corp. carbon neutral by 2010.
By many accounts, it seems he's been following through. Fox announced just before last week's episode aired that 24 had reduced the carbon emissions of filming the series by 43 percent. The show was on the way to becoming the first TV production to achieve carbon neutrality, the network said.
Environmental activists, who've been highly critical of Fox News and the network's conservative talk show hosts for casting doubt on climate science, nevertheless praise Murdoch for what he's done in other provinces of his media empire. Climate Progress blogger Joseph Romm says 24 has "done carbon neutral right" and the steps the series crew have taken show they are "clearly very serious about going green."
I enjoy watching the show, though I'm drawn in part just to see how far out it will go. Still, I can't help but agree with Romm that I find it a tad jarring to have actors in a series that sympathetically portrays torture step out of character at the end of the fictional mayhem and appeal to everyone to come together to green the planet.
Does anyone else think the effectiveness of Fox's climate campaign is undermined by 24's violent action and political subtext? Or is it a savvy use of the series' popularity to reach an audience who might not otherwise hear the message?