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Sunday, January 13, 2013

Coll, Clennon, Sheen vs. 'Zero Dark Thirty'

UPDATE #5 Sunday  Ed Asner and Martin Sheen, two longtime liberal activists, throwing their weight behind Clennon--and going further by asking fellow actors to not vote for ZDT for Best Picture.  Asner added in the memo:  "One of the brightest female directors in the business is in danger of becoming part of the system."...  Not official yet but film likely will take #1 slot at box office for this weekend with more than $20 million despite (or perhaps because of) uproar, beating "Gangster Squad"--which, come to think of it, would be fitting title for the torturers and torture defenders in "ZDT."

UPDATE #4  Deadline Hollywood rules that David Clennon broke no Academy rules in speaking out (see below).  Also, ZDT writer Mark Boal warns that he's finally mad enough about criticism that he's finally going to respond at length!  This ought to be fun.... Transcript of Glenn Greenwald-Mark Bowden debate on the film.... Box office numbers show the film surprisingly won the first half of the weekend.  

UPDATE #3  Saturday New collection of a couple dozen (negative) blurbs for Zero Dark Thirty--including one from yours truly--that you won't see in any ad. 

UPDATE  #2 And tonight a new controversy rages, as Academy voting member, actor David Clennon, announces he will not  vote for Zero Dark Thirty in any category.  This prompts response from Sony.  I once had dinner with Clennon--among other roles, he played the evil boss Miles on thirtysomething-- in Hollywood years ago and found him to be, as described, a strong and intense liberal activist.   “At the risk of being expelled for disclosing my intentions,” Clennon wrote, “I will not be voting for ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ — in any Academy Awards category.” 

He also released this statement: "The Motion Picture Academy clearly warns its members not to disclose their votes for Academy Awards. Nevertheless, I firmly believe that the film Zero Dark Thirty promotes the acceptance of the crime of torture, as a legitimate weapon in America’s so-called War on Terror. In that belief, following my conscience, I will not vote for Zero Dark Thirty in any category. I cannot vote for a film that makes heroes of Americans who commit the crime of torture.”

My post this week on Kathryn Bigelow still not getting it.

UPDATE #1 Mother Jones report on D.C. premiere last night, with Bigelow ducking out--after saying she is "awed" by the debate over the film -- and Boal getting very friendly questions from Martha Raddatz before being whisked away himself.  Former Sen. Chris Dodd, now movie industry flack, asks, what's all the fuss about? 

Earlier:  Not surprisingly, some of the most effective assaults on Zero Dark Thirty's portrayal of the efficacy of torture have come from many writers who are true experts in this area.  To date, Jane Mayer's attack in The New Yorker has perhaps been most convincing, and now we have the great Steve Coll in The New York Review of Books.  His devastating portrait benefits from a balanced, understated tone, but also reminds us that it was the director and screenwriter who insisted, at the outset (but not so much since) that there work was based on true events and was meant to be journalistic.   Coll (author of the award-winning Ghost Wars on Afghanistan and bin Laden)  today:
As with discourse about climate change policy, the persistence of on-the-one-hand, on-the-other forms of argument about the value of officially sanctioned torture represents a victory for those who would justify such abuse. Zero Dark Thirty has performed no public service by enlarging the acceptability of that form of debate.
Greg Mitchell writes daily for The Nation and has written over a dozen books on subjects including influential political campaigns, atomic cover-ups, WikiLeaks and Bradley Manning,  the death penatly in America, and more--see rail at right on this blog. 


Stuart Newman said...

Isn't the real problem with the film not so much its historical inaccuracies, or its ambivalence concerning the morality of torture, but its valorization of the murder of Osama bin Ladin as a justified mission of vengeance? This objective, unquestioned by fans (obviously), but virtually all critics of the movie as well, contravened international law pertaining to the means of bringing OBL to justice.

Neil Kitson said...

I am writing only to support Mr.Newman's comment. I vehemently agree with him.

Anonymous said...

The US is clearly a law unto itself. Illegal wars, torture, war crimes, assassinations - no legal consequences.

Anonymous said...

Yes-- to Newman's comment!