So, it may have been a bit of a leap when I declared Jersey Shore of the vacation canon defined by Pride and Prejudice, The Rivals and Charles Atlas. But when it comes to masterful recontextualization, I am but a padawan learner, and James Parker is my master. Read him on 24 and the tradition of nonsense literature:
And he had to do it all in 24 hours — the hook of 24, its gimmick, its gotcha. Indifferent to Aristotle’s first two unities (unity of action and unity of place), the show’s writers are raving absolutists when it comes to his third: unity of time. Each season covers a single 24-hour period, and is divided into 24 parts — 8:00 to 9:00 a.m., 9:00 to 10:00 a.m., etc. Before and after the commercial break, a yellow digital readout counts down the seconds. Bleep! … Bleep! …This existential brusquerie, this despotism of the present tense, is a hallmark of great nonsense, from the White Rabbit’s watch (“Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be too late!”) to the clock in Ionesco’s The Bald Soprano that strikes now 17, now seven, now three, now not at all. “Events,” we are hoarsely advised at the beginning of each season of 24, “occur in real time.” But of course, real time is the very last thing it is. If an hour as crazily piled with incident, as racked by good/bad choices, and as saturated with geopolitical import were actually to occur, anywhere within the solar system, the approximate effect would be that of a donut dropped into the Large Hadron Collider: the whole operation would just spark out.
To paraphrase N.W.A., goddamn he’s ruthless.