The second week of February 2017, Fox Broadcasting Network’s new action series, 24: Legacy, took the phrase ‘based on actual events’ to new, and rather disrespectful, levels. Using the hashtag, #SomeoneTellFox, Kenyans showed their rage on the utter disregard and callous actions of the TV show’s use of actual footage of the devastating 2013 Westgate Shopping Mall terror attack.
24 Legacy, a spin off of the popular Jack Bauer (played by Keifer Sutherland) series ’24’, premiered on February 5th 2017, and stars Corey Hawkings as Eric Carter, a war hero. Sticking to the original concept of 24, the new series is based on a Counter Terrorist Unit’s operations in the United States, where an entire season occurs over a period of 24 hours.
IMDB rates the show at 6.4/10. However, controversy struck when episode 4 aired this past Monday, used actual CCTV footage of the Westgate attack in Nairobi. The episode titled “3:00pm – 4:00pm” follows Carter searching for a stolen list of sleeper cells. Former head of the CTU, Rebecca Ingram makes a video presentation during a briefing with the Director of National Intelligence. The Nairobi Westgate attack video is used to show a terrorist attack in a market in what is purported to be Alexandria in Egypt.
Controversy lies in using the video where 68 people lost their lives. Adding salt to the injury is claiming that the footage was in Egypt. Here are some reactions on Twitter on the same:
The use of the Westgate CCTV footage to depict a fictional attack in 24’s latest episode is shameful IMO.
— John-Allan Namu (@johnallannamu) February 22, 2017
— Al Kags (@alkags) February 23, 2017
and there were those of a contrary opinion:
I don’t understand why people are mad about the Westgate footage on 24:Legacy. Live footage has been used in fictional shows for long.
— Philip Etemesi (@Etemessy) February 23, 2017
Other American drama series such as: Law & Order: SVU and Criminal Minds are fond of ripping stories from the headlines and adding them into their scripts for credibility. The method has worked in their favor making the show relevant for years. The detail in the story telling is what makes the episodes so thrilling, yet informative and sensitive at the same time.
Basing stories on current news however, can also lead to negative reviews if not approached in the right angle. In 2015 for example, when the Black Lives Matter movement was gaining momentum, The Good Wife tackled the matter in what critics called ‘a distasteful manner’. The episode season 6 episode 12; titled “The Debate” based their plot on the ongoing Fergusson protests at the time. The injustice was that police weren’t indicted for shooting Michael Brown. Karen Fratti reviewed the episode for the Huffington Post .
“Yuck, I don’t know if anyone was feeling this week’s episode of the Good Wife.”
There have been plenty of cases of Hollywood going too far in the name of Art. For the 1972 movie The Last Tango in Paris, actress Maria Schneider confessed in a later interview that she felt a little raped by co-star while shooting ‘the Butter scene’ for the movie.
QZ media reports that Fox Studios producers Manny Koto and Evan Katz have issued an apologetic statement admitting that the footage is indeed of the Westgate Shopping Mall terror attack, and that they regret it, saying subsequent versions and broadcasts will omit the footage. OYGK Magazine has been unable to legitimize this statement at the moment.*
Do you think 24: Legacy went too far?
*Unrelated to this incident, the show was cancelled on June 7th 2017 by FOX Network, after Deadline reports that the channel was not willing to renew the show for a second season, despite strong ratings of 6.3 million viewers for its final episode in the US. Producers Howard Gordon and Brian Grazer are however in talks for another reboot.
*Editor’s Note: This content has been updated to include:
1. The QZ Media report of an apology from Fox Studios producers, as iterated in the link above. 2. The cancellation of the show by FOX Networks in June 2017.