Friday, September 21, 2007

Jack Bauer’s Man Purse and Other Accoutrements of World Savers.

If you have watched the TV series 24, you have noticed, no doubt, Jack Bauer’s cloth carry-all slung across his shoulder, kind of “Johnny Appleseed” style. . . . . I don't like it. . . . . Frankly, the addition of the man purse to the Pantheon of Batmanish tool belts is a bit discomfiting to me. It is hip, but too hip for one so adept at killing. It does carry the tools necessary for the trade and in that way is in the tradition of other world savers like James Bond, Jack Ryan, and even in some ways John Wayne (notice any similarity in the names?).

Bauer, Bonds and Ryan have other things in common,
  • The world’s survival is always in-balance in their mission.
  • Their bosses reluctantly tolerate them and their methods.
  • The bad guys are either heads of state or counter heads of state.
  • The good guys are either heads of state or counter heads of state.
  • They all work for an intelligence branch of government.
  • They are all left to die in some alligator infested way in stead of being forthrightly shot.
  • They escape through their wits and a few handy tools hidden from sight.

And they have differences. Ryan, is the bookish analyst forced into hand combat by bad luck, not unlike Chloe in 24. Also, he is a reluctant hero, unlike Bond and Bauer who relish in their vocations and its perquisites. Ryan yearns to return home to make pancakes for his daughter on Saturday morning. Bond is never seen anywhere near something we might call home, unless you consider the Baccarat table in Monte Carlo home. Bauer's Odyssean hope is reunion with daughter Kim, a hope no sensible watcher can understand. Self-consumed she is, Penelope she isn’t. Ryan, good looks notwithstanding, is a family man. We know Bond's habituations with femme-fatales and femmes-not-so-fatale. Jack is more sensitive, he falls in love before consummating his love affairs. An annoying and disingenuous quality.

But to the Bauer method of carrying his tools of trade. Unlike Bond's uber gadgets, brief cases, watches, pens and cars, Bauer’s tools of the trade are more subtle, a utility knife, lock smith picks, the all seeing eyes and brains of the CTU computers, a "unocular", and the occasional, visiting tool, the last one I recall was a infrared device that countered the motion detector of an alarm system. It was pulled out of the purse.

Come to think of it the Kung Fu guy slung the soft travelbag. But he wore sandles and karate garb and projected the softer tough guy image. A kind of feminine quality consistent with his style. And John Wayne? The morning star of world savers. He saved towns not worlds -- but instead of a man purse, he carried rawhide saddle bags, pulled off the horses back and thrown over his own. I always liked that part.

1 comment:

Andrew said...

What about Walker, Texas Ranger? He never used anything but his fists of fury and legs of thunder.