Roll ‘Em!

torture-rack1I know dick about movies, and even less about teevee: these so-called entertainment models leave me totally cold.  There’s something about the medium that prevents me from accepting it as art, let alone truth.   I don’t see the character, I see some dumbfuck actor reciting lines written for him in a language I barely recognize, making grossly exaggerated faces and body movements I see nowhere in the real world, and behaving like no genuine human beings I’ve ever experienced.

From what I understand, these entertainment media are created for the exclusive purpose of making lots of money.  And data reveal that when movies feature car chases, senseless violence, and big naked tits, they do better at the box office.  This crap isn’t to be taken any more seriously than a wrestling match.

So this little news item boggles my brain:

Even before its official release, “Zero Dark Thirty,” the new movie about the hunt for Osama bin Laden, has become a national Rorschach test on the divisive subject of torture….. What has already divided the critics, journalists and activists who have watched early screenings is a more subtle issue: the suggestion that the calculated infliction of pain and fear, graphically shown in the first 45 minutes of the film, may have produced useful early clues in the quest to find the terrorist leader, who was killed in May 2011.  — NYTimes

There’s a real issue here, one that roiled politicians, academicians, human rights advocates, military brass, the media etc., for quite a few years.  That issue was the deplorable (or not) role Americans played in the alleged torture of prisoners to extract information.  Among the evidence: a 6,000 page report that reviewed 6 million pages of agency documents  to determine if torture occurred at all, and if so how often and under what circumstances, how effective, and how justified.

I didn’t read it.  I bet virtually nobody who goes to see this movie did, either.  And further, I bet nobody involved in making the movie bothered to review so much as a a summary.  After all, what would real facts add to the bottom line?

But thanks to this execrable chunk of visual entertainment, here’s the issue out on the town once again.

Mark Boal, the screenwriter of “Zero Dark Thirty,” which is directed by Kathryn Bigelow, said in an interview Wednesday that the movie was no documentary, though it is based on extensive research….“I’m trying to compress a program that lasted for years into a few short scenes,” he said. The film, he said, attempts “to reflect a very complex debate about torture that is still going on” and shows brutal treatment producing both true and false information.

I call bullshit.  The movie’s mission is to generate ticket sales.  Find just the right degree of graphic torture to depict and you’ve got a winner.  Screaming and gurgling, good?  Blood and entrails, bad?  Convene a focus group!!  We’ll figure it out and get sponsors, too.  When we’re all done, Americans will feel better about themselves — when we torture dots, wogs, and ragheads, we make the world a safer, better place!

That the American public would use this to re-open the debate about its effectiveness and morality is appalling,  That it would impact their thinking is morally and intellectually horrifying.  This isn’t real, folks.  It’s the calculated vision of some dipshit Hollywood director making money off your emotions and impulses.

Richard Nixon, fiend incarnate, once noted that “Americans don’t believe anything until they see it on teevee.”  He was almost right: Americans don’t believe anything UNLESS they see it on teevee, and even worse, WHEN they see it on teevee, whatever it is, they believe it.  Thus we have FAUX News.  Thus we have reality shows.  Hence we believe hollow-eyed blonde women and short photogenic male trolls when they recite “news” reports written by hacks and edited by marketing people off TelePrompTers.

The portrayal of torture in television shows like “24” — which makes no pretense of reflecting real events — may already have contributed to a notable shift in American public opinion toward the idea that brutal interrogations are necessary and effective, said Amy B. Zegart, who studies intelligence at Stanford University.

She commissioned a study in August that showed a switch since 2005 in views on the torture of terrorists who might know about new plots. There was a sharp a decline, for instance, in disapproval of waterboarding and of chaining naked prisoners in uncomfortable positions in the cold. The more spy shows people have watched, she said, the more enthusiastic they are about torture.

“I think the evidence is that television is shifting views,” said Ms. Zegart. “Entertainment has an alarming impact.”

“Alarming.”  Amen.

This entry was posted in Gen. Snark, Maj. Snafu, Corp. Punishment. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Roll ‘Em!

  1. Hose B says:

    Ms. Zegart is master of the obvious. Television has been shifting views for more than half a century. But if anything, its role has shrunken over the last few years thanks to the internet and social media, That’s pretty alarming, too.

  2. Frank of Oregon says:

    Wasn’t it Reagan who confused plots in his own movies with real historical events? And look how popular he was! Get with the program, man. Reality is for chumps.

  3. Beardsley says:

    It’s a genuine concern for the state of our knowledge when people confuse moviemakers like Oliver Stone with historians, and accept what they see on a screen as researched and reliable as that which appears in theses and textbooks.

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