Heroic torture

Apparently the show 24 was controversial because it showed the main character torturing information out of suspects, with apparent approval.

However, I recently realized that torture is normal behavior for TV heroes.

Specifically, when I watched Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes torture information out of a dying serial killer, soon after seeing Angel lock another serial killer in a magical device which prevented him moving, speaking or seeing anything, apparently forever. The latter wasn’t to get anything, but purely as punishment.

OK, that version of Sherlock Holmes is supposed to be a terrible person. Angel, however, is supposed to be a good man trying to make up for a bad past. And Buffy isn’t any kind of anti-hero, and she regularly beats information out of people.

There was no bad effect in any case: no one ever had the wrong suspect, the suspect gave correct information even when they had a reason not to, and the torturers never suffer any guilt or stress.

It’s particularly noticeable in the two Joss Whedon shows, because generally speaking their assumptions are more left-wing than right-wing: for example wealthy, powerful people are likely to be the villains, and authority is likely to be arbitrary and/or hypocritical.

Torture seems to be what heroes do.

The Madoona

The Madoona is the goddess of sound sleep. Her high priests are living pillows, known as the Seven Pillows of Wisdom. Other living pillows form a group of fighting knights called Pillowdins. There is a separate priesthood of living bed-linen, called Holy Sheets.

Four good things about Lin Carter

Author Lin Carter often gets criticized, especially for his “marked tendency for self-promotion” and “the hollowed out derivativeness of the setting and action“. However, there are several good things about him:

  1. He always acknowledged when he was trying to write in someone else’s style.
  2. I don’t think he ever tried to write a pastiche of Lord of the Rings (and presumably not because he didn’t like it: he wrote a book about it).
  3. The Man Who Loved Mars is actually pretty good.
  4. He might have had an influence on the plot of Avatar. I’ve already posted about how that film is partly similar to Carter’s Under the Green Star. I later found out that The Man Who Loved Mars, like Avatar, has a man who rejects near-future Earth society and leads a rebellion against it by tribal aliens. Of course, it could be a matter of them both using the same set of stock plots.

PS I haven’t included his editing the ‘Flashing Swords’ series. I read a couple and didn’t think they were that great.