Cheers for Torture Scenes? ‘Zero Dark Thirty’

WIRED.COM‘s Spencer Ackerman offers a justification for the inclusion of torture scenes in Zero Dark Thirty, a Katherine Bigelow-helmed film about the hunt for Osama Bin Laden:

“It’s a movie, not a documentary,” screenwriter Mark Boal told The New Yorker. “We’re trying to make the point that waterboarding and other harsh tactics were part of the C.I.A. program.” That quote has electrified the internet as a statement of intent to gussy up the importance of torture. But the fact is torture was part of the CIA’s post-9/11 agenda: dispassionate journalists like Mark Bowden presents it as such in his excellent recent book.

Zero Dark Thirty does not present torture as a silver bullet that led to bin Laden; it presents torture as the ignorant alternative to that silver bullet. Were a documentarian making the film, there would surely be less torture in the movie: CNN’s Peter Bergen considered an early cut of those scenes overwrought in their gruesomeness and reminds that senators who have investigated the CIA torture program reject the idea that torture led to bin Laden.

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What do you think, disinfonauts?

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  • BuzzCoastin

    Zero Dark Thirty is an elite propaganda piece
    the torture helps sell the film to the sheeple
    thereby insuring a good ROI on the film

    it probably has a few more sinister purposes as well
    but those are only known by the creators of this tripe

    • http://twitter.com/RayButlers Ray Butlers

      you’ve seen the film?

      • BuzzCoastin

        I saw the Osama psyop unfold
        but I haven’t watch the psyop reenactment
        I guess to be fair
        I ought to subject myself to some jingoistic propaganda

        • steve button

          I never thought it necessary to indulge professional liars, myself…

  • Simiantongue

    Screenwriter mark Boal says it’s a movie not a documentary. But Kathryn Bigelow, who wrote the film says that it’s a “hybrid of the filmic and the journalistic”.

    It doesn’t really matter if the filmmakers themselves claim that they were endorsing, condemning, or forgoing judgment about torture. What matters is the message given to audiences, the audience has as much to do with the Hollywood formula as any screenwriter. What do people think leaving the theater?

    According to this piece of “filmic journalism” torture is an important part of the narrative. Audiences will make of that what they will. So the question is, what will they? In the US for the last decade the country has a somewhat vitriolic anti-muslim fever. To expect any other reaction in the US at this time, other than a feeling of self righteous collective punishment, is not a rational expectation. The filmmakers know precisely what the reaction will be to depicting Muslims being tortured and how it will be received. Weak professions of plausible deniability that this movie could be taken in any number of ways is disingenuous. They know torture will be a seller, and how that torture will be received.

    If propaganda is to work effectively, the ones making it have to be true believers.

  • Tchoutoye

    Nothing up the sleeve!” The golden rule of film viewing is: Trust the tale, not its teller.

    21st century propaganda is sophisticated enough to embed the message, and its framing (The Staged Killing of the Manufactured Bogeyman) inside controversy (Torture is the Dark Side of What We Do). Not only to get more attention, but to get those who are critical of the War on Terror on board, since they already have the gullible.

    As long as everyone is talking about the torture aspect, the killing of Bin Laden is taken for granted, both in terms of its veracity and morality. So it matters not whether the film condones or criticizes torture because that aspect is not the true message of the film. The torture controversy is merely the lure to distract from the hook.

    • http://2012diaries.blogspot.com/ tristan eldritch

      “As long as everyone is talking about the torture aspect, the killing of
      Bin Laden is taken for granted, both in terms of its veracity and
      morality. So it matters not whether the film condones or criticizes
      torture because that aspect is not the true message of the film. The
      torture controversy is merely the lure to distract from the hook.”

      Well said. This film seemed profoundly problematic to me before the issue of torture was ever brought up.

  • steve button

    They didn’t catch or kill OBL…that’s obvious to those of us not on Jewish life-support…

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