Posted by: quiscus | January 14, 2013

January 14, 2012

1. “Hawaii: 120 Years of US Occupation: Militarism and “America’s Pacific Century”

2. ““Zero Dark Thirty”: Protest against the CIA’s Hollywood Thriller. Opposition within the Film Industry

Voices of protest have been raised in Hollywood against Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty, an account of the hunt for Osama bin Laden, which endorses the actions of the Central Intelligence Agency, the US military and the systematic use of torture.

In a statement published January 9 in Truthout (“And the Academy Award for the Promotion of Torture Goes to …”), actor David Clennon explains, “I’m a member of Hollywood’s Motion Picture Academy. At the risk of being expelled for disclosing my intentions, I will not be voting for Zero Dark Thirty—in any Academy Awards category.”

Clennon goes on, “Everyone who contributes skill and energy to a motion picture—including actors—shares responsibility for the impressions the picture makes and the ideas it expresses. … So Jessica Chastain won’t get my vote for Best Actress. With her beauty and her tough-but-vulnerable posturing, she almost succeeds in making extreme brutality look weirdly heroic.”

The Emmy-award winning actor (best known for his role on television’s thirtysomething) writes, “If, in fact, torture is a crime (a mortal sin, if you will)—a signal of a nation’s descent into depravity—then it doesn’t matter whether it ‘works’ or not. Zero Dark Thirty condones torture. … If the deeply racist Birth of a Nation was released today, would we vote to honor it? Would we give an award to [German filmmaker] Leni Riefenstahl’s brilliant pro-Nazi documentary, Triumph of the Will?”

It is entirely to his credit that Clennon has made this statement, and spoken out against Bigelow’s film, which has received almost universal, shameful praise from the US media and its so-called “film critics.”

Bigelow, supported by Moore and others, claims Zero Dark Thirty is neutral in relation to the events it depicts. “The film doesn’t have an agenda and it doesn’t judge,” she told the media. “I wanted a boots-on-the-ground experience.”

This is spurious. Zero Dark Thirty tells its “great story” from the point of view of the CIA and its torturers. Its supposed objectivity is a self-conscious aesthetic stance. Bigelow has long been fascinated with violence and brutality and those bold enough to carry it out, without regard for commonplace concerns. (For example, this bit of sophomoric dialogue from anti-hero Bodhi [Patrick Swayze] in Bigelow’s 1991 Point Break: “See, we exist on a higher plane, you and I. We make our own rules. Why be a servant of the law … when you can be its master?”)

We noted in regard to The Hurt Locker that the film “glories in and glamorizes violence, which the filmmaker associates with ‘heightened emotional responses.’ All of this, including its element of half-baked Nietzscheanism, is quite unhealthy and even sinister, but corresponds to definite moods within sections of what passes for a ‘radical’ intelligentsia in the US.” The Hurt Locker, we pointed out, “merely pauses now and then to meditate on the heavy price American soldiers pay for slaughtering Iraqi insurgents and citizens. As long as they pull long faces and show signs of fatigue and stress, US forces, as far as Bigelow is apparently concerned, can go right on killing and wreaking havoc.”


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