Kathryn Bigelow Trolls Zero Dark Thirty Critics


Ethan Gach

I write about comics, video games and American politics. I fear death above all things. Just below that is waking up in the morning to go to work. You can follow me on Twitter at @ethangach or at my blog, gamingvulture.tumblr.com. And though my opinions aren’t for hire, my virtue is.

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17 Responses

  1. Avatar Pyre says:

    This isn’t a phenomenon of the upper echelons/politicians. It is something that everyone does in every debate. The Sandy Hook shooting. Election 2012. Any discussion in our culture or even our history has this phenomenon where both sides mischaracterize the other and set up strawman arguments to knock down. In fact, I would argue that intellectual honesty is far more of a rare trait to see in any argument.

    I can’t really fault Kathryn Bigelow for being as intellectually dishonest as everyone else.Report

    • Avatar Ethan Gach says:

      I’ll give somewhat on your first point, though I think what’s significant about this and similar instances is that there are three groups: interlocuter 1, interlocuter 2, and general audience.

      This is a case of 1 ingorning 2 and going straight for 3. Yes, that’s quite common, but still unique from normal one to one exchanges, and also, I think, no less troubling because of how common it is.

      Part of the point of the Internet as a digital technology (per its advocates) is to democratize discourse. This is hardly the case.

      And yes, I do fault Bigelow, just like I’d fault anyone for doing something unethical. Especially when they are someone generally regarded as worthy of cultural and social praise.Report

  2. Avatar BlaiseP says:

    There was a day when American troops and intel operators were taught of George Washington, who did not torture, or of his shaming of the British who did. If what I have been able to learn is true, CIA torture made things worse. FBI refused. Bigelow predicates the hunt for Bin Laden on torture. This was not true. Her shrill remonstrance now is a bit precious.

    Bigelow, shut up. You wanted to take artistic licence. Take your lumps now.Report

  3. Avatar Damon says:

    Not relevant to the topic at hand, much, but I figured ZDT was a propaganda piece anyway and didn’t plan on seeing it.Report

  4. Avatar Roger says:

    Sounds like Hollywood marketing 101. Create controversy and fan the flames for publicity. I am just surprised you are playing along.Report

  5. Avatar sonmi451 says:

    Obviously this is all for Oscar campaigning. The backlash has probably cost the movie several nominations, she’s trying to get back in the good graces of the Academy. I mean, she didn’t bother addressing any of the criticism before the nominations were announced.Report

  6. Avatar CK MacLeod says:

    Haven’t seen the film, not sure when I’ll get around to it, but the discussion follows a decidedly familiar path.

    Bigelow has a different and, I think it must be said, likely much more sophisticated concept of artistic “truth” and the role of art and its reception than do most of her critics. She and they therefore talk past each other, while, if tried to say all that she thinks, she might end up both ruining her chances to pursue her art and also ruin the reception of her art. The difference extends to the fact that, for Bigelow and arguably for the audience she is both addressing and seeking to implicate, “brave men and women [giving] their all to keep the country safe and find UBL” is not a morally unambiguous sentiment. Not just Bigelow’s film or op-ed but any honest consideration of the last decade or the last 250 years or the last 500 years or the last 5 – 10,000 years will tend to confirm the vast ambiguities in such a sentiment.

    Bigelow is quite likely aware, however, that the statement will be taken as “unambiguous,” and that her offering it will help to pre-empt charges from the other side of effective treason in her connected acknowledgment that “moral lines” were crossed. How can an assertion that moral lines were crossed be taken as a “morally unambiguous” affirmation? This assertion is obviously self-contradictory. At the same time, it may be the notion that morally very highly ambiguous or simply wrong actions might be converted by patriotic sacrifice into something “morally unambiguous” that produces the morally deeply troubling actions depicted.

    To crib from Paul W Kahn, who has written extensively on this problematic over the last ten years, we love our countries, like our children or our parents or our husbands and wives or our fellow fill-in-the-blanks, because they are ours, not because they are better than someone else’s. This fact seems to be what the pacifist Bigelow addresses, in a manner that re-frames the role of torture and its near variations in the hunt for OBL (& co.) as a question rather than an answer.Report

  7. Avatar miguel cervantes says:

    ‘You really can’t handle the truth’ the fact is the first ring of the long chain that led us to Bin Laden, came from aggressive interrogation, of several figures, Quahtani, Slahi, et al, now the reference to Syriana, as a methodology is somewhat amusing, Rubicon had certain similarities
    as with that BBC produced ‘the Grid’. I was initially doubtful of this production, because of the role of FAZ Imagenation, in distributing and funding the film, and their are certain inflammatory
    elements therein, the film it more closely resembles, is the Kingdom, aka CSI Riyadh, about a FBI time, investigating an incident like the 2003-2004 wave, that gave birth to AQAP.Report