I finally saw both Zero Dark Thirty
and The Hobbit
yesterday. The Boy and I agreed The Hobbit
was too long. Twelve dwarves is about five too many.
Saw Zero Dark Thirty
by myself. I’d been wanting to see it for forever, but just chalk that up to
one more reason I hate the holidays. Now after all the hullabaloo in the press, all I could think about was the 45
minutes of torture I’d heard begin the movie.
I still remember this Oprah Winfrey movie from some number
of years ago. The first scene was the onscreen killing of a dog. I don’t
remember fuck-all else about the movie except leaving the theater hating it
because of that first scene. Not the character who killed the dog, the whole
movie. Beloved, I think it was called.
I was afraid this was going to be a repeat of that, or the
first 20 minutes of Saving Private Ryan—dude,
if I had wanted to get that close to combat, I’d have signed up—but was happily
Violence-wise, from the standpoint of, say, basic cable’s The
Walking Dead, this episode would be considered
a snoozer. The controversy about torture is way overblown.
But the controversy isn’t about the explicitness of the
scenes—which as I say, are tame compared to basic cable or the average Saw installment—it’s that the filmmakers purport to
represent an accurate portrayal of American behavior in wartime. And
we don’t want to believe what this movie shows us about ourselves.
Because of course Americans
don’t torture, not even in time of war, that sort of thing is repellent to us.
And of course we wouldn’t quarantine and relocate an entire sector of our
citizenry, based solely on race, certainly not as recently as the 20th
century. Nor would we test experimental medicines on Black soldiers, nor would
we reduce a second enemy city to atomic rubble after witnessing the horror of
the consequences of the first. And so forth.
There are so many things that we, as exceptionally
exceptional Americans, would never stoop to because we’re better than that. I swear,
there has got to be a black-ops dept. somewhere in charge of convincing us
we’re much better than everybody else on earth who is made of the same stuff
and battling the same inner demons.
Americans aren’t necessarily any better or worse than
anybody else, and we’re not any more gullible than anyone else to believing that we are. In drama, the
secret to creating a compelling villain is to write/play the character as someone who sees
himself as The Good Guy. The same is true for a running a sweet-smelling
And Zero Dark Thirty
rubs our face in the fact that, even as Americans, we’re still just human after