Monday, April 28, 2008

The Lost Ethics of Pop Culture

Jack Bauer is in a tough situation. If he doesn't act quickly, thousands of innocent people will die. With little time to sort through the implications of his actions, Jack decides that the best thing to do is torture someone. It seems the most expedient way to provide the greatest good to the greatest number. Such is life every Monday night on Fox's intense drama, "24."

Meanwhile, on another television network — ABC — the survivors of a downed commercial airliner find themselves on a tropical island full of intrigue and danger. The program, "Lost," features a con man named Sawyer who often does what needs to be done out of self interest, a sentiment that is echoed in his words, "every man for himself."

Popular culture sometimes mirrors the sentiments of culture in general. Both "24" and "Lost" are no exceptions. In the examples above, "24" presents a particular theory of ethics, while "Lost" presents another. While many watch television uncritically, simply for entertainment value, it is important to understand the underpinnings of entertainment when it comes to worldview questions such as ethics.

Read the rest of my article on "The Lost Ethics of Pop Culture."

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