Sunday, 13 January 2013

Zero Dark Thirty Review: Where were you at Zero Dark Thirty?

Funny thing, I actually don't remember where I was when the announcement was made. I remember hearing the news, and the emotions that came along with it. It was after all one of the biggest events of the 21st century, overshadowed only the World Trade Center attack of September 11th, 2001. You might even say that this was a defining moment of my generation. A watershed moment that was 10 years in the making that could end up defining how we govern and/or deal with the world when our time comes. And it is coming soon. Yet as I was watching the movie detailing how it happened, I was struck by the thought that I couldn't recall the moment I had heard.

There has been a lot of talk about the film and controversy surrounding it, most notably regarding the torture and detainment of prisoners as a way of finding him and the representation of it in the film. I have to say, that the scenes in the film were hard to watch. Anyone who can watch this type of thing and not cringe should be examined by a psychiatrist. Which is not to say necessarily that the scenes were overly gory or violent. By the standards of some films out there in the torture porn genre, these scenes are pretty tame. They don't really push the envelope in any serious way of cinema.

I would say that the reason why there is so much controversy around this film is because we know that where in most films the characters being tortured or killed are entirely fictional. Given that this is based on a true story, it is harder to imagine that these people aren't real. It is more than possible that the characters in these films really existed. Their names and physical attributes might be different but there really could be someone out there in the world who was on the receiving end of this type of treatment, and that rubs people the wrong way. Very much rightfully so in fact.

Despite that though, I think that the scenes are necessary exactly for that reason. As much as Seal Team 6 should be commended for what they did, the people who were hurt along the way deserve to be allowed their place in history. As disturbing as it might be and uncomfortable as it is to watch they played a part in what happened and the ultimate result. If we are going to be outraged at the prospect of torture let's make sure we actually understand what it is that means. A lot of people in the Western world talk about having standards and only doing things which are morally right but they don't really understand the true extent to which people go through.

More to the point, if it was used in the process of finding and killing Bin Laden then let's not sugar coat things and gloss over it. Put it out there where people can see it and decide for themselves. Let's present ourselves as who we are rather than who we want to be. I may not like torture being used and I certainly wouldn't want it used on myself, but I don't presume to be morally righeous about whether we should use it or not. I'll leave that up to the people in a position to decide whether to use it. Voicing my opinion is one thing, but I will neither condemn or support those who I voice it to. Nor will I do that to Kathryn Bigelow for putting it in her movie.

Where were you at Zero Dark Thirty? I may not remember where I was, but this movie should be remembered and for more than just the torture being used.

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