Torture, Utility, and Morality: Quote of the Day


“The question should not be whether torture works, but instead, what kind of country do you want to be a part of.”

Related: PBS News’ Jeffrey Brown talks Zero Dark Thirty and torture with The New Yorker’s Jane Mayer and the Atlantic’s Mark Bowden:

Also, what Paul Schrodt said: Way too much has been said about the depiction of torture in Zero Dark Thirty, in particular by people who haven’t seen the movie.

PreviouslyKathryn Bigelow Responds to ZDT’s Critics; Still Doesn’t Get It; Victors write history

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"I don't fuck much with the past but I fuck plenty with the future."

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  • “Also, what Paul Schrodt said….”

    Paul Schrodt:

    ” If you talk to anyone who has seen Zero Dark Thirty, they will tell you the same thing: The torture in the movie doesn’t titillate. It makes you feel awful. It makes you feel more awful to know that it happened, and that the people who did it were by and large decent people who wanted to get a job done. Where should our outrage really be directed?”

    Yeah, too bad the film didn’t ask that question. I guess it was too busy asking viewers to look and see what ugly and terrible things all these by and large decent people had to do to find the man who murdered 3,000 innocent Americans. Why then would the audience be feeling outrage at all about the torture when what Kathryn Bigelow asked them to feel was admiration?

    • Why then would the audience be feeling outrage at all about the torture when what Kathryn Bigelow asked them to feel was admiration?

      How would you even know what KB is (or isn’t) asking of her audience, when you steadfastly refuse to watch the movie before passing judgment on it (and her)? 😉

      • I’m assuming that when she speaks and writes about the movie she made, she is saying what she means and means what she says. And I assume additionally that when others, like Paul Schrodt, and like you, describe and comment on what the film shows and says (and what it does not show, say, describe) they are speaking truthfully. If Kathryn Bigelow, and folks like Paul Schrodt, cannot be trusted on these points, then I can see I may be getting an incorrect impression of what’s in and what’s not in, the movie.

        • Whatever her ultimate intent, it’s best to keep in mind that Bigelow comes from a post-structuralist visual art background that heavily informs her subsequent genre film work (especially Strange Days) far more than any latent polemical/political agenda.

          Bigelow was profiled by the NYT in 1995 — I think the follow quote re: Strange Days is also apt re: ZDT:

          “When you watch from a distance, there’s a safety involved… . When the distance is eclipsed, you create a huge tension because there’s a potential for participation.”

          • Matt, I’m sorry, but I have no idea what a post-structuralist visual arts background is, and I don’t understand her meaning in that quote.

            Regardless of whether she *intended* a specific political polemic, the choices she makes about what and how her film is going to portray this real-life event will have political meaning. It cannot be otherwise. The hunt for bin Laden and all of the things that were done in the name of getting bin Laden are inherently political. It’s like when people say they’re not voting. There’s no such thing. Not voting IS voting.

  • Mondoweiss: The reviews are in: ‘Zero Dark Thirty makes me hate muslims’

    The film Zero Dark Thirty is now showing in theaters nationwide and reactions are starting to appear on social networks.

    Collected comments here

    For anyone who has seen the movie when do the torture scenes appear and how long do they last?

        • Oh believe me, I know why you asked. I will not see the movie because of those first 45 minutes. I already live with clinical depression; I don’t need to feed that when there’s nothing I can learn I don’t already know.

          I would only suggest that you put your hands over your ears as well as closing your eyes.

  • From Mat’s link:

    “That scene is not the only thing the movie’s about,” Ms. Bigelow insists. She views “Strange Days,” which many viewers are finding to be very disturbing, primarily as a love story, and she doesn’t feel that she’s done her sex a disservice. On the contrary. “Lenny’s clients are bottom feeders, men who need to be fed this kind of intense voyeuristic experience,” she says. “By inference, I’d have to say, aren’t we lucky, us women, that these voyeuristic fantasies are not usually fantasies shared by women?”

    Obviously, Ms Bigelow accepts our culture as is and knows nothing and doesn’t care to know anyting about the lived experiences and true sexual desires and fantasies of women.

    FYI Ms Bigelow, women are not a homogeneous group – some of us do have voyeuristic fantasies.

    • Plus, what does the question of whether women have voyeuristic fantasies, or not, have to do with whether the film does a disservice to women? As I understand it, the “disservice” referred to has to do with the voyeuristic quality of the violence against women in the film. How does Bigelow’s comment address that? To me, her answer seems like a total non sequitur.

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