Tuesday, December 11, 2012

THUMBS DOWN. I hate to get on Glenn Greenwald's bad side but his claim that he isn't really reviewing-without-having-seen Zero Dark Thirty, when his hostile non-review contains phrases like this --
That this film would depict CIA interrogation programs as crucial in capturing America's most hated public enemy, and uncritically herald CIA officials as dramatic heroes, is anything but surprising.
--and--
...the film's glorifying claims about torture are demonstrably, factually false.
--and--
What this film does, then, is uncritically presents as fact the highly self-serving, and factually false, claims by the CIA...
-- is extremely disingenuous. Greenwald's points about some of the journalism surrounding the film are valid, but his characterizations of the film itself are ridiculous. Zero Dark Thirty isn't a shadowy political figure whose hidden movements you track by eyewitness reports. It's a fucking movie. Have your editor buy you a ticket.

This is still more proof -- as if more were needed -- that you shouldn't bring your political obsessions to the temple of art. It is both more personally edifying and more pleasing to the Muses to approach a work of art as a work of art, however obnoxious it may be to you on other grounds, than to approach it as a political phenomenon. Because when you do the latter, you get into company you really don't want to be keeping.

If the thing you've actually seen, heard, or read is a piece of shit, then fire away.

I would explain further, yet again, why this is so, but I'm busy and I assume adults already know this.

UPDATE. Lotta pushback in comments. Like I said, what people are saying about the movie may be stupid, but the movie itself will make or not make its own case. Right now the whole thing's reminding me that once upon a time the big issue with Citizen Kane was supposed to be whether or not Welles had been fair to William Randolph Hearst.

103 comments:

  1. glennisw9:41 AM

    Been following this story this morning. It's a fucking movie. Have your editor buy you a ticket. Thank you , Roy, for the most sensible thing anyone has said so far.


    Kevin Drum added an "update" to his review, allowing as how he maybe should have seen the movie before writing his article. Do you have to go to J-school to learn that?



    I think I'm going to crank out a bunch of new book and restaurant reviews now, while sitting here at my desk. Maybe I'll get published, too.

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  2. there's a difference between politicking and ideology. cultural products are not created in a vacuum, and the latter girds not only our collective imaginations, but our personal artistic ones as well. you front a little aw-shucksy anti-intellectualism in posts like these when it's convenient for you roy, and it's a cop out considering that you're probably one of the better writers on the progressive net.

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  3. Duncan10:13 AM

    Wait, a minute -- a propaganda film made with the active collaboration of the Obama administration has something to do with the "Temple of Art"? Art Who?

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  4. This is still more proof -- as if more were needed -- that you shouldn't bring your political obsessions to the temple of art. It is both more personally edifying and more pleasing to the Muses to approach a work of art as a work of art, however obnoxious it may be to you on other grounds, than to approach it as a political phenomenon

    Not 100% sure I agree. I mean, to some extent, sure. Iron Man and The Dark Knight both espouse some shitty politics if you read them politically, but there's really no reason you need to*. They're enjoyable action movies. But I feel like some movies are demanding you read them politically.

    Take the Red Dawn remake, for example. Would it really be unreasonable of me to bring my politics with me into the theater and conclude that it's a movie designed specifically to stoke the racist sentiments of simpleminded jingoes? Or to object to the fact that it only really works as a movie if you accept the premise that what America routinely does to other countries is inherently more tragic when it's the other way around?

    If it's trying to stoke racist and imperialist sentiment, it's remarkable effective at it. And if it's not, are we supposed to give it a pass because it's "just a movie"?

    I dunno.

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  5. Yeah this is basically what I was trying to say in my post only you said it a lot more clearly.

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  6. scottdedalus10:18 AM

    Hmmmmm. So art is art and politics is politics, and how a popular film that'll be seen by millions of people portrays torture is just an aesthetic abstraction that none of us need to worry about? Who's being naive here, Kay?

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  7. The Dark Avenger10:24 AM

    A film based on real-life events should adhere to the facts somewhat, and given that the Obama Administration has been telling us that torture wasn't used to get the info that was used to track down bin Laden...........................

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  8. L. Art Vivant. You wouldn't know him.

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  9. Halloween_Jack10:27 AM

    I wouldn't put some notional unbreachable wall between politics and art, especially with regards to the depiction of torture as being considered necessary to prevent terrorism; take the example of 24. But Glenn isn't really helping his case by linking to Andrew Sullivan, for a number of reasons.

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  10. PulletSurprise10:29 AM

    [I have not seen this film and thus am obviously not purporting to review it; I am, instead, writing about the reaction to the film: the way in which its fabrications about the benefits of torture seem to be no impediment to its being adored and celebrated.]



    And it doesn't take him long before he's comparing Kathryn Bigelow to Leni Riefenstahl, which is somehow a responsible means to invoke Godwin's Law mid-conversation.



    "I am obviously not purporting to be critical of Greenwald's claims about torture; I am, instead, writing about how his facile journalistic claims about a movie he has never seen are better suited to the likes of Matt Drudge."

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  11. I am aw-shucksy in earnest; I embrace multitudes. It's not a matter of convenience, but a reaction to specific circumstances. For example, you may be all toffee-nosed and hyper-articulate most of the time, and then you step in dogshit and you're all "fucking cock" or whatever.



    And I've been making this point over and over again in many tones of voice for years: I know propagandists sometimes create something that looks like art to further their own ends. To the extent that it's art -- and believe it or not, some of us can identify it, they used to teach this in schools -- it has value, usually very different from what the propaganists intend; and to the extent that it's not art, it's crap.


    Criticizing works of art from a political point of view has a long, extremely negative history I would ask you to consider before adopting it.

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  12. Why people care what Greenwald/Sullivan think/say continues to be beyond me.

    "Haha, he's occasionally somewhat reasonable for a privileged douche" doesn't cut it for me.

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  13. The dirty secret is: Riefenstahl isn't that good. As a director, she's a great art director.

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  14. Also, I'm stuck on something called the "progressive net"? No wonder my ads don't make any money.

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  15. Well okay, you've got a good point there. But from that perspective one could argue that Zero Dark Thirty is essentially a propaganda piece. Here in Amurica those don't come exclusively from government sources.


    (Having not seen Zero Dark Thirty, I'm not actually arguing this.)

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  16. Criticizing works of art from a political point of view has a long,
    extremely negative history I would ask you to consider before adopting it.


    thanks for responding, roy.

    i agree with the above point, totally. but rather than critiquing a piece strictly from a political point a view - ala j. goldberg, "battlestar galaticia is conservative, doctor who is liberal" - my point is that questions we can use culture to ask are, what does a piece tell us about us? how can a piece illustrate the limits of our political and cultural values? what does it tell us about where we've been and how far we've come?

    does bigelow's new pic have merit as an action flick, as a piece of filmmaking? i'm sure it does - you may disagree, but i think there are myriad ways to view a piece (i've been interested in kathryn bigelow since she did 'near dark.'), just like there are a number of ways to view the 'dark knight' films.

    but i believe that glenn's point, and it's a point that's been made about kathryn's stuff , is that the film is ultimately a comfort to us - "we are there, with our boys, identifying with their fear and anguish instead of questioning what they are doing there." and, again, not in a surface level sort of way, that can be reduced to just democrats-dance-like-this-but-republicans-dance-like-this, but in such a way that never questions the zero-level assumptions about how we look at ourselves and the world, that, something like rudyard kipling's stuff, it's part of a canon of ideology-as-entertainment.

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  17. I've often considered starting an "Overrated Liberals" blog. Just for funsies, you understand, not because I actually have any desire to cleanse the party or anything stupid like that. Anyway, if I did, Greenwald would certainly be on the list (maybe Sullivan, but it's hard to tell if he counts as liberal) along with Hugo Schwyzer, who also falls into the "occasionally reasonable for a privileged douche" category, which is why you made me think of him.

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  18. Call me crazy but somehow I'm fairly sure that even if I were shown evidence that torturing people had produced real evidence used in a successful criminal investigation - hardly unlikely just by random chance, given the sheer amount of awful shit being done in the world - I would remain unconditionally against doing so, because that's what "unconditionally" means.


    It would also seem fairly simple to point out to people who are less unconditional about it, but who still aren't wingnuts, that on the way to getting that real evidence out of that one bad guy it's almost certain that you inflicted unforgivable pain and terror on 5 or 50 or 500 random people for whom there will be no justice.


    But I realize there are people who don't think you can stand up for a principle unless you deny to your last breath that anything your opponents might be pleased about ever could have happened.

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  19. If you click the link to Roy's review of Atlas Shrugged: The Perpetual Motion Picture in the 3rd-to-last paragraph, it provides some evidence that one can review a propaganda piece by looking at its actual content and commenting on the various ingredients present in it, which may include political statements, art, actors, random bullshit, etc.

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  20. PulletSurprise11:17 AM

    I'm taking it on faith that Greenwald has seen Triumph des Willens but perhaps he's relying upon reactions to the film in drawing these conclusions.

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  21. blondie11:20 AM

    Like a fly on a web.

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  22. Yeah that's about the size of it. Torture apologists like to invoke the "ticking time bomb" scenario, saying that torture is justifiable if you absolutely NEED that information right away to save lives. This also happens a lot on 24.

    Besides the fact that this is a bit of a misdirection designed to leave undisturbed the assumption that torture will necessarily render essential and accurate information any more quickly than other methods, it also ignores the fact that it took us ten years to find bin Laden, and America didn't blow up in the meantime.

    It's funny, but when you look at interrogation methods used by people who aren't either insanely racist, insanely corrupt, and/or powertripping on testosterone, you generally find that they have no use for torture. Torture is a tool by which to obtain false confessions or just to humiliate. When you look at cops trying to get actual information from suspects (again, the cops who aren't corrupt/racist/assholes), you see that their favored method is to get all buddy-buddy with the suspect.

    But as you said, even if it works, that is not in itself sufficient justification. It stands to reason that executing people for any crime whatsoever would reduce the repeat offender rate, but that doesn't make it okay.

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  23. mortimer11:33 AM

    I haven't read Greenwald's piece (and, to be honest, I barely skimmed this post) but I have to say that it's utterly indefensible for Glenn to claim that bin Laden shouldn't have been killed because he was a nice guy. Mind you, I'm not attacking him for what he said, but for what I think he said, so I'm not actually criticizing him or what he wrote (whatever that was), just that I imagine him writing it, and that's enough for me. If it turns out, when I finally get around to reading his piece, that he actually didn't say what I think he said then my dudgeon will be totally justified anyway, because he should never have allowed himself to be accused of it in the first place.

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  24. Yes. The makers of the film are going around claiming this was a somewhat "journalistic" endeavor so the public will think this basically the true story. We tortured and it produced results! Torture is a war crime. It's grossly immoral and vile in any situation. Not to mention the fact it's unreliable and counterproductive. But here the movie inserts the myth that torture helped us find OBL. Dick Cheney couldn't ask for more. Now we get these two bit, wanna be professional film critics scolding a writer for discussing the reviews, and the movie makers own statements on the movie? Just typical insular, egotistical BS coming from these little brats who think only they are only ones open minded enough, and nuanced enough to know "you must see the movie first" before commenting on a simple, well sourced aspect of the plot. Man was tortured. He gave up name. Name helped find OBL.

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  25. Don't blame Roy for playing the game fair. If you're going to call out the other side for politicizing art, or movie reviews, you gotta call out your side, too. (This assumes "Zero" is art, mind you. I haven't seen it, either.) But I insist on my right to dig Sinatra more than Baez while preferring the latter's politics.

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  26. Glenn has never claimed OBL shouldn't have been killed. He's argued you don't murder people. Greenwald is standing up for fair trials, and not committing war crimes. When you shoot a defenseless captive who is no threat to you. That's a war crime.

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  27. He sounds like a douchebag.

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  28. Art Vandelay, obviously.

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  29. "...questions we can use culture to ask are, what does a piece tell us about us?"

    Oh yeah, absolutely. Characterizing a film you haven't seen is dicey, though. I mean, for all I know maybe ZD40 is more like Starship Troopers than 24.

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  30. And irony continues to decompose.

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  31. BigHank5312:32 PM

    Greenwald would be having an easier time of it if he could pick out a single target for his rage: Obama, propoganda, Bigelow, Bush, torture apologists, the CIA, misrepresentations of truth, or Leni Reifenstahl. Indiscriminate fury just looks like wingnut, regardless of the political flavor.

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  32. yeah. that's a thing.



    okay - no gulag for you. just six months at a re-education camp.

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  33. That's really not Greenwald's style. His view of the world is strictly Manichean - everyone is an immoral monster, save him and his friends who form the sole bulwark against tyranny. It's a popular refrain, and he's not going to change it.

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  34. I dunno, if you went solely by Richard Kelly's statements about Donnie Darko, you'd get a pretty misleading impression of the movie. And not by intent. I think he's actually forgotten what that movie is about. Assuming he ever knew. I'm unconvinced.

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  35. Steve1:06 PM

    The temple of art? My god, it's a fucking movie theater.

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  36. Leeds man1:16 PM

    I'm still pissed off at Surat Khan for causing the Charge of the Light Brigade.

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  37. beez in the trapp1:28 PM

    "It would also seem fairly simple to point out to people who are less unconditional about it, but who still aren't wingnuts, that on the way to getting that real evidence out of that one bad guy it's almost certain that you inflicted unforgivable pain and terror on 5 or 50 or 500 random people for whom there will be no justice."


    It's not cuz they don't give a shit

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  38. Formerly_Nom_De_Plume1:36 PM

    Greenwald isn't cut out to be a movie reviewer. When he is confronted with actual propoganda, he seems confused about what he's watching.

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  39. I hate it when people fall into the trap of believing that depicting something is the same as exulting in it. Just because a thing happens in a movie doesn't mean the director and screenwriter are promoting it.

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  40. BigHank531:50 PM

    For $5 I'll let you whack the corpse with a mallet. $20 and I'll go on a coffee break for fifteen minutes.

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  41. Very funny. Alright, a Palace then.

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  42. Waingro2:45 PM

    "maybe Sullivan, but it's hard to tell if he counts as liberal"

    He doesn't. See his Rainman-esque bleating about Simpson-Bowles for proof.

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  43. Spaghetti Lee2:54 PM

    Good points all around. I tend to side with Roy on the get-your-politics-out-of-my-art argument, but I can also see why one would judge a movie that purports to be a realistic interpretation of a real event that we all remember more similar to 'politics' than 'art'.


    Also, because the word 'propaganda' is getting thrown around so much, I wonder how relevant it is when not only is the government's official interpretation of anything not the only one people can find, but dozens of other interpretations are available to anyone with an internet connection. Doesn't 'propaganda' imply some base level of audience capture in order for it to actually work?

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  44. ThatFuzzyBastard3:35 PM

    Well, Triumph of the Will isn't that good, but Olympiad is a stone-cold classic.

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  45. Halloween_Jack3:42 PM

    A follow-up to my previous comment: in the LGM thread on this (which name-checks this post, BTW), someone links to an article which says pretty clearly that the movie does not promote torture or say that it's at all effective in finding terrorists or gathering info. (Yes, it's from the Daily Beast, but blind squirrels and stopped clocks and whatnot. Also worth noting that, of course, the DB is also the home of one Andrew Sullivan, who relies on miscellaneous criticisms of the film rather than the word of his own co-worker. But he's promised to give it a fair shake once he's seen it since Sony sent him a free pass. Can't wait!)

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  46. Anyway, if I did, Greenwald would certainly be on the list


    Since all I really have going for me are pedantry and profanity, I feel obligated to point out that Greenwald is something of a focused civil libertarian who IIRC was largely apolitical before the Patriot Act and suchlike. I'm not entirely sure if he'd fit the conventional definition of "liberal." Uh, dammit.

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  47. Roger Ebert has written a classic of the genre in his "Great Movies" review of Birth of a Nation. He manages to critique it both as a piece of filmmaking -- one that advanced the art, in fact, since many of the techniques Griffith pioneered in the film are in use today -- as well as a piece of racist propaganda. http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20030330/REVIEWS08/303300301/1023

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  48. redoubt3:58 PM

    Art Howe. Who doesn't like how he is portrayed either.

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  49. Roy, you are the best, and Greenwald often comes across as a humorless, holier-than-thou scold, but I think he's got a point here. This purports to be a history, and people are going to treat it as such:

    http://www.mediaite.com/tv/joe-scarborough-claims-zero-dark-thirty-torture-scene-true-screenwriter-and-facts-disagree/

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  50. Leeds man4:16 PM

    Curious; what does "overrated" mean? Not just that you disagree with him, I hope.

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  51. Leeds man4:22 PM

    "A film based on real-life events should adhere to the facts somewhat"

    Sorry mate, but doesn't that "somewhat" render the phrase somewhat meaningless?

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  52. yenwoda4:51 PM

    Greenwald also seems to mislead when he says that "...Leon Panetta, made clear that those techniques played no role in finding bin Laden". Follow the link and you get to Panetta's letter to John McCain in which he writes that "Some of the detainees who provided useful information about the
    facilitator/courier’s role had been subjected to enhanced interrogation
    techniques." I'm 100% against torture and I think the "enhanced interrogation" regime was a great evil that should have let to major prosecutions, but here Greenwald is misleading his readers in a piece that is meant to rip a film that he hasn't seen... for being misleading.

    We tortured most of the people that we captured who had any links to Bin Laden's outfit. It kind of stands to reason that *some* portion of the intelligence that led to his capture would have come from tortured detainees, even if the same result could have been achieved with humane techniques. For my part I won't comment on whether the film glorifies torture until I've seen it.

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  53. Hugo Schwyzer, who also falls into the "occasionally reasonable for a privileged douche" category


    Guess you missed the mishegoss in the feminist blogosphere about him several months ago.

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  54. The Dark Avenger5:24 PM

    Nobody expects a mainstream Hollywood movie to be as scrupulous to all the facts, but this is a major difference that isn't a matter of time compression or making up scenes to help the narrative along. This is a major problem for this film, IMHO.

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  55. Leeds man6:52 PM

    It's a movie, not a documentary. I don't get why this is even an issue when politicians are lying about life and death issues every fucking day. What exactly is the problem? That some idiot will think the film proves that torture is good?

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  56. Since all I really have going for me are pedantry and profanity, I feel obligated to point out that it's "mishegas." A wavy red line appears under it otherwise ... at least if you're using Firelox as your browser. Bupkes!

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  57. Leeds man7:46 PM

    Still waiting for the profanity, mds. Fucking put up or fucking shut up, as my granny used to say.

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  58. aimai7:48 PM

    I love you, BigHank. You and your big mallet.

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  59. MikeJ8:16 PM

    Take the Red Dawn remake, for example. Would it really be unreasonable
    of me to bring my politics with me into the theater and conclude that
    it's a movie designed specifically to stoke the racist sentiments of
    simpleminded jingoes? Or to object to the fact that it only really works
    as a movie if you accept the premise that what America routinely does
    to other countries is inherently more tragic when it's the other way
    around?

    Maybe you should see it before you decide what it's about. I thought the original was a laff riot. I still watch it when it comes on TV. It is fucking hilarious.

    There are other works of art that may show "what America routinely does to other countries" and do it for the purpose of showing that it is bad when it happens to anyone. Until you've seen the movie, you don't know which one this is.

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  60. MikeJ8:19 PM

    I thought that made him not a Scotsman.

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  61. when i've done the occasional cultural history class for undergrads before, i tell them that culture is important because we use it the same way the ancients used the stars, to navigate our lives. culture, and the metaphors and imagery they give us, creates our reality, and gives us touchstones for our moral and political imaginations. so yeah, it's critical because it helps us think about our world and who we are and what's possible and what's not.

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  62. It's a view that gained a lot of credibility after we watched Obama do things we all rightly criticized Bush and Cheney for doing.

    And listened to "shush, because the Lesser Evil!" over and over ever since.
    ~

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  63. The Dark Avenger8:56 PM

    It lends an air of authenticity to claims that torture 'works'.



    As the child of a woman who as a child herself witnessed someone tortured by Japanese troops, I have a perspective that perhaps many people in this discussion lack.

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  64. Unless you've seen the movie, you're about in the same position as the rest of us.

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  65. Leeds man9:19 PM

    My life has been a privileged white man's dream, but my father's guts, and both parents' lives and families were torn apart by WW2. My paternal grandfather, and several maternal relatives, spent years in gulags, so please skip the perspective crap.

    It's a fucking movie, that none of us has even seen.

    More importantly, 90+ percent of climate scientists should lend an "air of authenticity", right? How's that working out?

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  66. Spaghetti Lee9:36 PM

    I don't disagree with that idea on it merits, dex, but I think it's very difficult to square that with the actual creation of art (as someone who hopes to actually do that for a living one day, I may be biased), and how I think it's generally good for society if artists can talk about what they want, how they want, without being blackballed for it (not implying that Bigelow is being blackballed in anyway, just speaking in the hypothetical.) And, I dunno, we all laugh when James Dobson says Sesame Street is dangerous because it turns kids gay or whatever. To suddenly wring our hands about a movie introducing Bad Ideas to people who could potentially be brainwashed by them seems a mite hypocritical. (Not to mention useless, unless one really does advocate censorship of dangerous ideas as an acceptable solution.)


    I also think it's one of those paradoxical things. Yes, art and pop culture as an aggregate shape people's opinions on things, but piling on one individual piece of art doesn't help: it doesn't help the public, it doesn't help the cause of the people piling on, and it sure as shit doesn't help the artist, who was just trying something new or different rather than actively trying to subtly increase political support for whatever the thorny issue at hand is.

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  67. Spaghetti Lee9:45 PM

    Authenticity for who, exactly? How many people out there are uninformed enough to not know what they think about torture already, but informed enough to be swayed by an objective argument one way or the other, but impressionable enough that the only argument that will convince them will come from a movie?

    I don't know exactly how to put it into words, but I just don't like this assumption that political fiction you disagree with is self-evidently a stalking horse for real-world agenda-pushing.

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  68. here's the thing, though - glenn's saying that the film is hewing towards a basic ideological template, and that is that at bottom, our actions are untethered from moral values. the notion that it's "merely art" is obfuscatory. it's not a question of they're being "bad thoughts" - it's that they're not thoughts about anything at all. it's like that zizek quote up above - we never at any point question the entire proceedings, we're just there, with our boys, feeling their anguish and terror, and don't you know that war is hell? etc.

    and yes, as i stated way up above to roy, a piece can be read myriad ways. and again, i'm not talking about political agendas, politicking for this issue or that - i mean, ideology, how we view the world and ourselves.

    (dobson's actually on to something. it's not he said that sesame street or spongebob turns
    kids gay - i'm not gonna bother with a google search, but i'm fairly
    certain that that's not the concern - but turns them tolerant. when we provide children early
    in their lives with symbols and figures embracing diverse lives and decency
    to people who are different from them, it's that they're lost to his
    ilk forever)

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  69. Spaghetti Lee10:21 PM

    Well, not to go back to the same well that Roy started with, but I don't know how Greenwald came to that conclusion about our actions not being tied to moral values seeing as how he hasn't seen the film. I haven't seen the film either, so I'm on the same ground, but is it too much to propose that someone who made The Hurt Locker is, at least, unlikely to have made a movie with the message "War is awesome and torture solves all our problems"? And that maybe Greenwald and others are piling on the movie prematurely and that there will be more to it if they actually see it.


    But on the larger point, my personal opinion is that by default, art is a vacation from the normal restrictions and morals of reality that can, on occasion, hold a mirror up to reality, but shouldn't be obligated to. Now, I'm not saying that people should just turn off their consciences whenever they go to a movie: talking about whether a certain character or their actions were 'right' or not can be fascinating. What I don't like is the accusation that I, the actual person in real life, am morally compromised for seeing and enjoying a movie that has a questionable moral compass, or that it's somehow hypocritical to 'support' something in a movie that I wouldn't support in real life, because I think that the moral standards, if you will, of fiction and reality are so different that directly comparing them in such a way doesn't really make sense.

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  70. AGoodQuestion10:25 PM

    It's not just that a piece can be read myriad ways. It's that if it's done with any kind of artistry it will be. Straining to say one thing and one thing only usually results in the maker shooting themselves in the foot. Yes, David Zucker can make an anti-liberal movie with the same throw-shit-at-the-wall approach he used for slapstick comedy, but even a lot of conservatives were embarrassed by An American Carol.

    I of course haven't seen ZD40 either. I do know that Kathryn Bigelow isn't a total hack, though. It can be fairly predicted that some people will see it as an Obama propaganda film or Special Forces recruitment poster, and that other people will argue against those readings. The meaning won't settle for years, if ever, and that's a good thing.

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  71. I have seen it (what's with the weird assumptions?) and I assure you I didn't detect a trace of irony or self-awareness in the RD remake. Your mileage may vary.

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  72. AGoodQuestion10:32 PM

    Are you sure you got the right link? The article that comes up was written by Andrew O'Hehir.

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  73. Just for clarity, here's a review by someone who did see it

    http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2012/12/zero-dark-thirty/

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  74. Gosh darn it all to heck, what do you think bupkes actually means? Give me some frelling credit, ya kneebiter.

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  75. whetstone12:14 AM

    1. It's better, if you are writing about a film, to have seen it than not. However, it falls below the standards of journalism, if you have not, to rely on the judgement of Frank Bruni in place of having seen it, because Frank Bruni is a giant dumbass.

    2. I'm okay with people bringing their politics to bear on art: feminism to rom-coms, class to sitcoms, etc. It's brought texture and dimensions to art I wouldn't have noticed. But it's better when it opens something up instead of shutting it down.

    3. Glenn Greenwald is a blunt instrument. This is extremely helpful in many respects; a lot of great people are graceless blunt instruments who cannot achieve things that those of us who are more equivocal or abstract. They can be infuriating on some subjects; art is usually one of them. He's kind of an extreme example when it comes to applying politics to art.

    4. Really, the important lesson here is not to outsource any judgement, ever, to Frank Bruni.

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  76. The Dark Avenger2:19 AM

    And until you talk to someone who has witnessed someone being tortured, you're in no position to judge my views on the matter.

    ReplyDelete
  77. The Dark Avenger2:32 AM

    My paternal grandfather, and several maternal relatives, spent years in gulags, so please skip the perspective crap.

    Wow, touched a nerve, have we? Wouldn't have been faster to write something wittier, like, "Shut up, you git!"?

    It's a fucking movie, that none of us has even seen.

    Thanks for reminding me, you squalid heap of parrot droppings.

    How's that working out?


    I do love people who twist what I say, especially when don't by a professional twit.

    ReplyDelete
  78. The Dark Avenger2:36 AM

    Many people are uninformed these days, think of all the people who thought Romney was going to win the election.

    ReplyDelete
  79. satch7:03 AM

    Hmm... Donnie Darko was that movie about the need for more stringent mechanical inspections of airline engine mounts, right?

    ReplyDelete
  80. Halloween_Jack8:31 AM

    No need to apologize--you said all the things I would have said if I weren't lazydistracted by other things.

    ReplyDelete
  81. Leeds man9:03 AM

    "squalid heap of parrot droppings"

    I like that. A cut above the usual boring insult. Bravo, sir/madam.

    "a professional twit"


    If only.

    ReplyDelete
  82. i would direct you to this debate that corey robinson is blogging inre: lincoln. my take on this whole thing is probably a little more lefty-culture-studies (as my thesis advisor would say, "bullshitty"), but i think it sort of highlights my concerns about the public mind, ideology, and sourcing (which battachio does a masterful job above of talking about).


    thank you both for taking time to engage on this.

    ReplyDelete
  83. The Dark Avenger9:24 AM

    Then you're a talented amateur, now you need a top professional to partner with............

    ReplyDelete
  84. Leeds man10:10 AM

    I'd just like to thank everyone for a dam'd interesting discussion.

    ReplyDelete
  85. Leaving aside the fact that you have no idea who I've talked to in my life, that still doesn't mean you've seen the damn movie.

    ReplyDelete
  86. The Dark Avenger3:23 PM

    Leaving aside the fact that you have no idea who I've talked to in my life,


    Most people have never and probably will never talk to someone who has witnessed torture first-hand, so the odds for you being one of those who have are slim to none.

    So I can't take torture seriously because I haven't seen the godamned mother-fucking, cock-sucking, father-killing movie?


    OK.

    ReplyDelete
  87. Again: you don't know who I've talked to, or worked with, or know, though it is truly precious that you are so quick to dismiss any experience I may have had. I would also point out that your own claim to experience is at a remove.

    In any event, you can take torture seriously without having seen the movie (nice goalpost moving!). What you can't do is judge the content of the movie or its treatment of torture without having seen the movie. Particularly given that two different reviews by people who have seen the movie have not borne out your firm conviction that it glorifies torture.

    ReplyDelete
  88. The Dark Avenger2:22 AM

    though it is truly precious that you are so quick to dismiss any experience I may have had.

    Nope, you haven't offered anything from your experience that is relevant, and you're quick to tell me my opinion about torture is irrelevant if I haven't seen the film.

    "In any event, you can take torture seriously without having seen the movie (nice goalpost moving!)"

    b>Particularly given that two different reviews by people who have seen the movie have not borne out your firm conviction that it glorifies torture

    Is that what I said, or are you engaging in moving goalposts on your ownsome?

    It lends an air of authenticity to claims that torture 'works'.

    ReplyDelete
  89. It's especially rich for a guy who, by his own admission, had no political worldview to speak of, other than a general impression that our leaders would do the right thing, until about 8 years ago.

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