Docudrama or Propaganda?
At Hullabaloo, Dennis Hartley states his “dilemma regarding Kathryn Bigelow’s film recounting the 10-year hunt for the 9-11 mastermind and events surrounding his takedown, (he) can’t decide if it’s ‘like the Army’ or a glorified mob movie.” Hartley goes on to say:
“And indeed, Bigelow has nearly succeeded in making an objective, apolitical docudrama. Notice that I say nearly. Here’s how she cheats. After opening with a powerfully affecting collage of now sadly familiar audio clips of horrified air traffic controllers, poignant answering machine adieus and heartbreaking exchanges between frustrated 911 operators and hapless World Trade Center office workers, Bigelow segues into those torture scenes you have undoubtedly heard about. Tugging at our heartstrings to incite us to vengeful thoughts? That’s not playing fair. ‘Remember how terrible that day was?’ she seems to be saying,’“…so the ends justify the means, right? Anyone? Bueller?’..”
Dennis Hartley notes that Bigelow is saying, in respect to torture, that the ends "do" justify the means. This is where Zero Dark Thirty moves to the dark side of America’s understanding of the legal and humane limits of “enhanced interrogation.” Bigelow’s film is correct in portraying the US torture events that took place leading up to the killing of Osama bin Laden, because they actually did occur. However, her film crosses the line when it implies, in fact emphatically states, that these techniques were not only effective - but justified.
Many US military and intelligence experts have stated that “torture does not work,” and that, if anything, it only creates wasted effort following leads that were spoken simply to “make the torture stop.” Ms. Bigelow may have been privy to supposedly successful torture leads during her classified CIA briefings while making the film. But, (1) very high-level intelligence officials who were part of the OBL program have already denied that torture provided any leads to finding bin Laden, and (2) even if a torture-induced lead was correct, experts have proven that the same information could have (should have) been obtained through other legal and humane interrogation procedures.
The United States has the most advanced intelligence gathering capabilities of any nation in the history of mankind. They have proven to be effective. Why should we regress to using primitive torture techniques? Torture has been deemed to be immoral, inhumane, unnecessary and illegal by every civilized nation in the world.
Zero Dark Thirty fails to make this point. In fact, it glorifies the opposite of this point, i.e., torture not only works, it is necessary in order to maintain American exceptionalism.
In all honesty, I do have a great deal of appreciation and respect for Kathryn Bigelow’s film-making talent. As with her award-winning efforts with Hurt Locker, Ms. Bigelow has provided us with excellent plot and character development in Zero Dark Thirty, and has presented a passionate (though lengthy) story-line. The film was meant to be a docudrama. However, it has become a propaganda film in regard to its false representation of the US torture program established during the Bush/Cheney administration.
In 1935 Leni Riefenstahl released her classic Nazi propaganda film Triumph of the Will. She received numerous awards in many countries for her creative combination of music and cinematography as well as her revolutionary use of moving cameras and aerial photography.
Ms. Riefenstahl will always be remembered by film critics as having directed one of the best-made movies of all time. However, she will always be remembered by the public as having directed the most infamous propaganda film ever made.
Likewise, Kathryn Bigelow will rightfully receive many awards for her creative work in Zero Dark Thirty. But, in the future, people will always remember her for her propaganda film justifying the US torture program.
I originally posted this article on Monday morning, January 7th.
Following are the comments from the original post:
JANUARY 7, 2013 10:54AM
I loved Point Break and if Bigelow wants to do her testosterone worship in that kind of format that's fine with me. But when she applies it something like this it's sickening.
If she wants to do a dissertation on torture why not show the more likely scenario where time and effort were wasted following a false lead given? And why just show the 9/11 tragedy and not include our baseless invasion of Iraq as part of the over-reaction for context? It's a twisted film for twisted times. Should do well!
cheshyre grin January 07, 2013 02:06 PM
Steven Rockford January 07, 2013 02:43 PM
american 'progressives' imagine they are the voice of the nation. but a comprehensive survey of american history reveals the real character of the nation, red in tooth and claw. this movie may have been made to make money, as was '24.' it may be subsidized propaganda from the plutocrats who profit from militarism. it is certainly violence porn.
nothing new here, folks, this is the real america.
al loomis January 07, 2013 02:45 PM
Margaret Feike January 07, 2013 04:03 PM
Al and Margaret,
I appreciate your comments. As you said Margaret, it is easy to get “turned off by the subject.” But, unfortunately, as Al said, “this is the real America.”
It seems that we have reached a point where “Anything Goes!” in regard to protecting The American Empire, with no concern about the effect on innocent people or the impact of future blowback. According to ZDT's message:
“But Hey, It Works!”
Following this same logic, any neighborhood having problems with rat infestation should not consider hiring a professional exterminator. Even though exterminators are very effective, their work normally takes a long time to eliminate the problem, and you’re never sure that their work is complete. By detonating a small nuclear device in the center of the neighborhood, however, you can be certain that 100% of the rodents will be exterminated immediately. This would be messy.
“But Hey, It Works!”
Steven Rockford January 08, 2013 11:44 AM
Danni Rowe January 08, 2013 12:04 PM