Kathryn Bigelow has decided to address the torture criticism surrounding Zero Dark Thirty in a personally written response to her critics in the LA Times.
And it’s a must read.
Bigelow makes it abundantly clear that she is anti-torture, but tells critics to look at the institutions that commit these acts instead of the artists that depict them.
But I do wonder if some of the sentiments alternately expressed about the film might be more appropriately directed at those who instituted and ordered these U.S. policies, as opposed to a motion picture that brings the story to the screen.
Those of us who work in the arts know that depiction is not endorsement. If it was, no artist would be able to paint inhumane practices, no author could write about them, and no filmmaker could delve into the thorny subjects of our time.
She also presses upon the importance of freedom of expression, noting that many of the films that have been made about war could not have been if they had shied away from controversial material.
This is an important principle to stand up for, and it bears repeating. For confusing depiction with endorsement is the first step toward chilling any American artist's ability and right to shine a light on dark deeds, especially when those deeds are cloaked in layers of secrecy and government obfuscation.
Indeed, I'm very proud to be part of a Hollywood community that has made searing war films part of its cinematic tradition. Clearly, none of those films would have been possible if directors from other eras had shied away from depicting the harsh realities of combat.
Above all else, Bigelow makes sure to note that these weren’t superheroes that killed Bin Laden, that have defended our country. These are everyday people that unequivocally deserve our respect and gratitude.
In that vein, we should never discount and never forget the thousands of innocent lives lost on 9/11 and subsequent terrorist attacks. We should never forget the brave work of those professionals in the military and intelligence communities who paid the ultimate price in the effort to combat a grave threat to this nation's safety and security.
Bin Laden wasn't defeated by superheroes zooming down from the sky; he was defeated by ordinary Americans who fought bravely even as they sometimes crossed moral lines, who labored greatly and intently, who gave all of themselves in both victory and defeat, in life and in death, for the defense of this nation.
Kathryn Bigelow addresses 'Zero Dark Thirty' torture criticism (Los Angeles Times)