Gelf Magazine - Looking over the overlooked

Ad Watch

February 8, 2005

Fox Is Pro-People

Kiefer Sutherland preaches tolerance in public-service ads.

Carl Bialik

The current season of "24" has been the best yet, taut and thrilling. It has also angered American Muslims because the bad guys are Islamic terrorists, as noted in an AP article from a few weeks ago. At the time, Fox offered its stations counterbalancing public-service ads with positive statements about American Muslims: " "Muslims are part of the fabric of this great country and are working to build a better America."

On Monday night, the show went further, running a spot with its star Kiefer Sutherland conveying the same message. All well and good, but if the network is going to start singling out groups of people, it might want to consider a PSA avowing the positive contributions of black American women. Some of the show's most distasteful villains have been black women, and they've been depicted as greedy and ruthless. With 16 hours of plot twists remaining, perhaps the producers will find a counterbalancing positive black female character—or just run a disclaimer.

Of course, viewers don't need Fox to tell them all this. Every villain and hero must belong to a group, but they don't represent that group. There are better places to learn this kind of tolerance than on network TV.

Carl Bialik

Carl Bialik, a co-founder of Gelf, is a writer for FiveThirtyEight.







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Article by Carl Bialik

Carl Bialik, a co-founder of Gelf, is a writer for FiveThirtyEight.

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