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Saturday, January 12, 2013

Protesters Try to Convince Moviegoers to Skip Zero Dark Thirty

Posted by on Sat, Jan 12, 2013 at 12:00 AM

  • Kelly O

Tonight, ten activists from human rights group The World Can't Wait gathered in front of the Regal Meridian 16 downtown to protest the 7:30 showing of Zero Dark Thirty. Spokesperson Emma Kaplan explained that the group came out to try to convince potential Zero Dark Thirty viewers to skip the movie because ZDT "is a film that is justifying torture." Several protesters were wearing bright orange Guantanamo-style jumpsuits as a reminder that today is the 11th anniversary of the opening of Guantanamo.

Like any downtown protest, there were some challenges from pedestrians. An older couple walked by and started shouting Teabagger slogans at the protesters—"Impeach Obama first," the man said. Another man walked past the protesters, then turned and shouted "Waterboarding was successful!" He ran across the street and ducked inside the Cheesecake Factory, rather than engaging the protesters in conversation. A young man with some sincere questions about the War on Terror wound up having a long conversation about the current crop of movies with one of the protesters. (He announced that Django Unchained was "awesome.")

Here's (very shaky) video of Kaplan's speech:

Kaplan and other protesters I spoke with admitted that they hadn't seen the film, although Kaplan said she was considering watching a later showing, so she could speak with authority about it. I attended the 4 pm showing of Zero Dark Thirty, which let out just as the protesters were arriving at the theater. My review—as well as more of Kelly O's photos from the protest—is after the jump.

  • Kelly O

  • Kelly O

  • Kelly O

In response to Kaplan's argument that Zero Dark Thirty "justifies" torture: I don't think that's true. This certainly isn't a 24-style glorification of Bush's War on Terror. In fact, the best of Zero Dark Thirty feels like reportage to me—the movie opens with a few extended torture scenes, and they're not comfortable to watch. Maya, the protagonist played by Jessica Chastain, winces and averts her eyes through the waterboarding and humiliation of one captive. The men being tortured aren't portrayed as sneering movie bad guys; they're helpless, mortal men, feeling a great deal of pain. And we're not shown that the torture directly results in the killing of Osama bin Laden, either; the movie leaves the connection ambiguous enough that viewers can come to their own conclusion. The closest thing to hero worship you get in ZDT is the harrowing depiction of the Navy SEAL mission into the bin Laden compound at the climax of the film. It's no John Wayne movie—the SEALs shoot parents in front of their children—but director Kathryn Bigelow definitely can't seem to hide her admiration of their skill and icy get-the-job-done bravado.

(Stepping away from the politics for a moment and addressing the movie as a movie reviewer: When Zero Dark Thirty departs from the documentary-style filmmaking is when it stumbles. The score feels confused about what it's supposed to be; at times it flutters like a Christopher Nolan Batman soundtrack, and occasionally it lurches into something heroic, which is a bad fit for the tone of the film. And the characterization is subpar; Chastain never manages to completely convince us that Maya is as haunted as she should be. Because of her inability to sell Maya to us, the final scene, which Bigelow seems to desperately want to imbue with meaning, just kind of...sits there, instead. The narrative desperately wants to believe it's Moby Dick with Osama bin Laden cast in the role of the white whale, when really it's just a movie-ish plot that's been stapled into a very technically impressive dramatization of recent events.)

Zero Dark Thirty is not a cause of the problems that World Can't Wait was trying to protest tonight. If anything, it's doing those protesters a service by bringing all these War on Terror issues back into the national spotlight. The movie didn't cause the torture; the movie is throwing the torture back into the faces of the people who are trying to ignore it. I can't help but think that Zero Dark Thirty is inspiring more fruitful conversations about America's War on Terror than the protesters are.


Comments (45) RSS

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thelyamhound 44
@42 -
It is also incorrect, if we are to believe the CIA.
I've yet to see the film, so I'll refrain from commenting on what it does or doesn't say about torture; Bigelow's been a reliable enough cinematic presence that she'll get my money, in any case. I'm wondering, though, if you might agree that "if we are to believe the CIA" constitutes a mighty big "if."
Posted by thelyamhound on January 15, 2013 at 11:55 AM · Report this
43 Comment Pulled (Spam) Comment Policy
runswithnailclippers 42
The film clearly shows torture leading to information that leads to the assassination of UBL. That is justifying torture. It is also incorrect, if we are to believe the CIA.

And from a movie standpoint, Jessica Chastain was horrible in the lead role. Much of her dialogue was forced, at times to an almost comic degree.
Posted by runswithnailclippers on January 13, 2013 at 7:37 PM · Report this
sirkowski 41
What a bunch of useless morons.
Posted by sirkowski on January 12, 2013 at 8:12 PM · Report this
Liz Cheney loved it! Her tweet:
Just saw Zero Dark Thirty. Excellent film about years of heroism, including in the enhanced interrogation program, that led to bin Laden.
Posted by simianarmy on January 12, 2013 at 7:03 PM · Report this
I hope they protest Peter Jackson’s depiction of violence in The Hobbit, which represents a radical misunderstanding of JRR Tolkien’s “non-violent ethos.” The film undercuts some of the book’s most significant beliefs, such as Gandalf’s words to Bilbo that courage consists of knowing when to spare a life. Peter Jackson masked Tolkien’s pacifism by deciding to shoot the battle scenes as, essentially, Zach Snyder’s 300 set in Middle Earth.

A protest is in order.
Posted by These people will protest a letter opening on January 12, 2013 at 5:18 PM · Report this
This title of this article is an actual distortion of .the point of our protest. Nowhere in our flyer or did I at anytime say that the point of our protest was to prevent people from seeing the film.

The actual flyer we handed out can be seen here:…

Our point was to bring out the context this film is taken in, that torture is never justifiable, acceptable or moral and that Guantanamo most be closed. This is a message anybody can and should bring to the general public whether they have seen the film or not. This is what we have taken responsibility for doing.

On your point that torture is not justified in this film, after having seen the film, I am more than willing to debate anybody about this and our responsibility to the people of the world to not go along with torture or the illegitimate war on terror. I am all for having one of those fruitful conversation your refer to about about this film and the war on terror. Let's have it.
Posted by EmmaK on January 12, 2013 at 4:56 PM · Report this
@13, mattluby, ...

"You're an educated guy...." [Referring to Paul Constant]

You make some excellent comments, matt, but that comment on Constant is but an assumption, which doesn't stand up to close scrutiny: work experience at Barnes & Noble and that other place didn't necessarily equip Constant with any special background, which he certainly hasn't demonstrated --- but then he was probably being compared to Frizzelle!
Posted by sgt_doom on January 12, 2013 at 4:07 PM · Report this
@15, gloomy guttersnipe:

"That usually intelligent people (Paul is an example).."

What the hell are you smoking, dood? While it is true that Americans appear to now exist in a state of rapid devolution, even among the Ameritards, Constant stands out as far below substandard!
Posted by sgt_doom on January 12, 2013 at 4:03 PM · Report this
@17, SeMe,

"The film clearly says that torture as awful as it is, allowed the US to ultimately kill Bin Laden."

Good point and followup --- and I seem to recall that Robert Young Pelton said for quite a number of years that, if Osama was still alive, they would find him in Pakistan, near a Pakistani military facility of some sort --- which indeed was the case.

And Pelton tortured no one, that I'm aware of .....
Posted by sgt_doom on January 12, 2013 at 4:01 PM · Report this
@26, RP makes some other unique and outstanding points,

Many eons ago, in USAF/ARRS we went through an extended form of SERS training at commando school (Eglin at that time), along similar lines.

Again, RP's point makes clear the historical --- up to the very present --- reason for torture, whether done in Syria (recall the first high-value high-ranking target, the medical officer/general, was also heavily involved with military torture projects), or Egypt, or Myanmar, or China, or Saudia Arabia (where they are supposed to put on torture show for select royals) or the US of A: to torture a false confession from an innocent party, or someone possibly tangetially connected, but bearing no responsibility, etc., in order to misdirect and hide the true guilty parties.

Posted by sgt_doom on January 12, 2013 at 3:57 PM · Report this
@4, David Thompson, makes the best point --- and, as much as galls me to admit it, @8, Fnarf's followup points are intelligent (admittedly an infrequent occurrence!).

@ Paulie Constant: "..feels like reportage to me.."

What a shocker, a douchtard fictionalized movie rendition feels like reportage to f**kwit Constant; to be expected!

Now Paulie, try and focus those two or three active neurons you still possess, and attempt to grasp the following:

Historically, and up to the present day today, rulers, royals and regimes pick up innocent paupers or bystanders then torture a "confession" out of them for the purpose of covering up the actual culprits.

Anyone can be tortured to admit to anything. They once taught the Spanish Inquisition in high school history classes --- hope they are still doing it, especially as it is most necessary today.

The blank screen opening of that douchetard film should have featured the following two clips:

the Pentagon's comptroller, on the day before, 9/10/01, at the news conference where he explains that their auditing team (DIA's Financial Management staff) uncovered the unaccounted for sum of $2.3 trillion (let me repeat that for the lowbrows, halfwits and fellow f**kwits, that was $2.3 trillion), and the next clip would feature the announcing of the deaths of the majority of that auditing team the very next day, when an airliner crashed into the Pentagon's west wall. (We all should know by this time, thanks to a commercial satellite picture taken 24 hours afterwards of the roof of the Pentagon, that by the burn marks it was obviously a dead center crash by the airliner, a most incredibly aviation maneuver, when to do the most damage it would have been far easier for the airliner to come in for a roof strike above, or if they wanted to take out the upper echelon of command, to crash into the opposite side of the Pentagon.

Note the primary outcome: the deaths of almost all the auditing ream responsible for uncovering that unaccounted for sum of $2.3 trillion, with the few remaining ones severely injured --- only one member, a lady officer (if I recall correctly), who worked off-site, but thankfully overslept that morning, and therefore viewed the last-minute email (sent sometime around 2:00am on 9/11/01) requesting an emergency meeting that morning of the Financial Management staff at their conference room by the Pentagon's west wall --- said lady officer arrived just in time to view from a distance the airliner flying dead center into the west wall.

Now, add to that the destruction of Building 7 at the WTC, which housed the source documents of approximately 3,000 ongoing SEC investigations -- no source docs, no trial possiblity.

Further add to that the invoking by the SEC of an emergency clause in the Securities Act (or Securities Exchange Act, it has been many years since I read it) which allowed for the transfer, etc., of hundreds of billions of securities without the normal oversight processes in place.

There were other financial manipulations and machinations which took place concurrently, but these are the really important ones to take notice of.

And those who were to be tortured --- whether cutouts or innocent paupers or bystanders --- would confess to anything! ! !
Posted by sgt_doom on January 12, 2013 at 3:50 PM · Report this
This title of this article is an actual distortion of .the point of our protest. Nowhere in our flier or did I personally say that the point of our protest was to prevent people from seeing the film.

Our point was to bring out the context this film is taken in, that torture is never justifiable, acceptable or moral and that Guantanamo most be closed. This is a message anybody can bring out to the public whether they have seen the film or not. This is the message that needs to be brought out to the public and this is what we have taken responsibility for doing.

On your point that torture is not justified in this film, after having seen the film, I would like to challenge to you to a public debate around this question and our responsibility to the people of the world to not go along with torture or the illegitimate war on terror. You name the date and time and we will have one of those fruitful conversation your refer to about about this film and the war on terror.

(1) -Emma Kaplan
Seattle Chapter of World Can't Wait
Posted by EmmaK on January 12, 2013 at 3:35 PM · Report this
Cato the Younger Younger 31
What's sad is that we have to discuss if torture works or is moral in the first place. We're going backwards in our evolution gang.
Posted by Cato the Younger Younger on January 12, 2013 at 3:25 PM · Report this
Just Jeff 30
fnarf's a fdick. I haven't seen the movie, so I can't comment on it. I have read a few reviews though, and so far Paul's is the best, least biased and most in-context that I've seen. Well done, PC.
Posted by Just Jeff on January 12, 2013 at 1:38 PM · Report this
Her screechy voice is torture.

A million dead? Do they just pull these numbers from their asses?
Posted by Tampon on January 12, 2013 at 12:36 PM · Report this
Michael of the Green 28
There's no question that the movie is deceptive in its depiction of the efficacy of torture. This has been noted by some who know. And while Maya might "wince and avert her eyes", she is playing the part of the naive innocent (Bigelow's decision to make the character female is unfortunately key, and it's a telling shorthand), while her partner doing the torture is depicted as the one who is willing to get his hands dirty in order to do what is necessary to save the world.

It's the standard story: those of us who oppose torture (played by wincing Maya) just don't have what it takes to understand what grownups do. We are to "avert our eyes" while the real men do the work. The protesters are right.

That said, it's a pretty good movie if you don't mind a little wincing and eye-averting at Bigelow's indulgences. At its best, it comes close to achieving the tone and urgency of "Syriana".
Posted by Michael of the Green on January 12, 2013 at 12:22 PM · Report this
@1 Inconceivable? Every time a movie cop roughs up a suspect for information, or puts a gun to his head, or squeezes an existing wound, etc., that's a form of torture. Not as systemic as the CIA's waterboarding program, but nevertheless, it's sending the message that stepping over the lines of humanity is acceptable, even necessary sometimes. We've been primed for this for decades.

This is what I loved about the scene in Dark Knight when Batman slams the Joker's head on the interrogation room table— not only was it ineffective, but the Joker went on to explain exactly what he did wrong. Instead of demonstrating his power over his enemy, Batman only proved his impotence. (Similarly, in the sequel, Aiden Gillen's CIA character's false executions in the opening scene have no effect.)

I hope the extended cut of Zero Dark Thirty shows FBI agents chasing geese in Central Park from all that 'valuable intel' that was extracted by the Guantanamo Inquisition.
Posted by madcap on January 12, 2013 at 11:40 AM · Report this
Reverse Polarity 26
The entire conversation about whether or not torture is moral is a moot point. It doesn't matter whether it is moral or immoral. It doesn't work.

When I was in the military about 25 years or so ago, all flight crews had to go through a short course on what to do if their plane went down and they were captured and tortured. There was no pretext of holding back. Everyone knew that under torture, you will say anything to make the torture stop. Anything, regardless of whether it is true or not. Truth doesn't matter. Only stopping the pain matters. So the entire point of the training course was to learn to make shit up that will get them to stop torturing you, yet still deflect the truth or keep critical information secret.

Any information derived from torture is completely unreliable. The CIA knows this. The military knows this. They've known it for decades. Torture is useless as a means of gathering intelligence.

I haven't seen the movie, and have no opinion of it. But if it promotes the idea that torture can result in useful information (even if it is morally repugnant), then it is full of shit.
Posted by Reverse Polarity on January 12, 2013 at 11:34 AM · Report this
How about the Regal 16? Watching a movie in that theater is torture enough.

Posted by six shooter on January 12, 2013 at 11:05 AM · Report this
this guy I know in Spokane 24
So people are protesting because a movie isn't true?
Posted by this guy I know in Spokane on January 12, 2013 at 10:58 AM · Report this
See also:

Posted by Phil M http:// on January 12, 2013 at 10:52 AM · Report this
to suggest torture works, glorifies torture beyond belief.

you do not need to see a movie to criticize it. you don't need to visit USSR to criticize stalin, and I don't need to see usa torture before i criticize it; it is acceptable to gain knowledge through third party reports.

we, the progressives, have completely fallen down on the torture issue; our president, broke international and american law in not prosecuting the torturers nad putting fucking cheny in jail for fucking 100 years and allowing civil rights suits for 100 million dollars by the victims. it was all illegal. illegal, violent, torture. these protestors deserve applause.
Posted by we have fallen down on January 12, 2013 at 10:42 AM · Report this
Phoebe in Wallingford 21
@8: Since when does art damage conversation?
Posted by Phoebe in Wallingford on January 12, 2013 at 10:32 AM · Report this
DOUG. 20
Dubya could've killed or captured bin Laden at Tora Bora in 2001, but didn't want to—there was a Middle East to "conquer" and a 2004 election to steal.

Obama may be flawed, but Bush is your real war criminal. That he walks around today as a free man is an American tragedy.
Posted by DOUG. on January 12, 2013 at 9:59 AM · Report this
"Unfortunately, in the end, the film makes a mockery of all those who protested America’s regime of secret prisons and abuse. "
Posted by simianarmy on January 12, 2013 at 9:57 AM · Report this
If you want a less morally dubious take on the film, this review nails it…
Posted by simianarmy on January 12, 2013 at 9:53 AM · Report this
The review here gets a lot of points correctly. But...The film does say clearly that torture works. It doesn't glorify torture, but it tells you that it works. And that its irresponsible. I think the protesters have a valid point, but I disagree with them that its a propaganda film. They should see it. As far as my own conclusions. The film clearly says that torture as awful as it is, allowed the US to ultimately kill Bin Laden. Which is clearly not true and an irresponsible thing to say. It portrays the main torturer a curly hair white guy as an everyday guy, which makes a subtle statement about evil and the banality of evil and the sociopaths who torture on behalf of governments. Its not a Pro war film but it is also not turthful in many areas.
Posted by SeMe on January 12, 2013 at 9:48 AM · Report this
I see Fnarf hasn't seen the movie yet either.
Posted by treehugger on January 12, 2013 at 9:22 AM · Report this
@8, yes yes yes. That usually intelligent people (Paul is an example) are missing this is the most horrifying thing about the movie. It's showing us exactly how little attention we are paying. Damn.
Posted by gloomy gus on January 12, 2013 at 9:22 AM · Report this
Rotten666 14
Ok I see what @4 is getting at.

Posted by Rotten666 on January 12, 2013 at 9:03 AM · Report this
mattluby 13
I have never agreed this much with Fnarf. Well said, Fnarf!

Paul, it seems like you went into this movie already convinced of how you needed to come out of it because that is how the chattering classes have deemed we must come out of it: able to interpret it your own way, not overtly pro-torture but a little off. I've heard the script before.

You're an educated guy who has probably already read a couple of longform pieces about the bin Laden raid. You also know a lot about the "war on Terror." And yet even you came away from it saying, "Well, it's not exactly anti-torture, but it probably isn't pro, either."

Now what do you think a high school boy thinking about joining the military is going to think when he sees waterboarding (A) followed by killing bin Laden (B)?

Get real. It is uncomfortable to admit it, but you are on board with this. You voted for tough guy Obama and now you're endorsing this movie while simultaneously dissing people who actually care. Caring is so not Seattle, after all. Who would waste a night dressing up in a jump suit to protest something when there is good media to consume?
Posted by mattluby on January 12, 2013 at 8:55 AM · Report this
@3 Sorry you misinterpreted the point about truth being more interesting than government/corporate lies but let me clarify. Novelty is not a criteria to determine veracity but in this particular case the objective facts about 9/11 are quite a bit more complex and interesting than Hollywood-style narratives the government feeds the public to give it a false sense of closure during such crisis. Unfortunately most people blindly accept statements from authorities without critical thought or hard evidence and dismiss those skeptical of the official story as crazy conspiracy theorists.
Posted by obp on January 12, 2013 at 8:52 AM · Report this
The Hobbit was torture..... look, Muslim!
Posted by Fandangos on January 12, 2013 at 8:31 AM · Report this
1. it's awesome they are protesting. torture is bad. the movie lies and is pro torture.. for shame!
2. yes, perhaps we should impeach obama. I nice, I donated to him re voted for him, yet I know, he willingly and knowingly and deliberately broke international law and his oath of office in not prosecuting our nation's list of torturers, this is both contrary to his oath and is a human rights violation. you could call it that. yes. a violation of human rights. here I am protestesting the cia in guatemala, protesting salvadoran rights violations, being active on that, yet we all just sit around letting obama, our dude obama, get away with acquiescing in torture, when his oath mandated him to fucking prosecute it.
3. don't quibble with me; this is one area where we do not have prosecutorial discretion as the torture treaty -- approved by bush and reagan no less btw, and two thirds of the fucking senate -- specifically says we will prosecute not doing it is a international law violation, a human rights violation, and since international law is by our law part of our law, he broke his oath of office.
4. while he did other shit that's problematic to me this torture approving seems the worst as it was clearly illegal, vicious and despicable, i just don't feel that drones are as clearly illegal, and while the patriot act surveillance stuff perhaps is unconstitutional to me actual physical torture is so wrong it's physical and violent it's not just listening in .....
5. don't worry, no one is going to prosecute obama nor sue him i'd be surprised if we can even brin gourselves to not mock these protestors into submission.
6. yes the lie that it works is the most insidious part of this propaganda movie. but fnarf is wron a bout django. there is no excessive violence in django; given the crimes committed there, it was just and proportional. just watching it doesn't mean you're conversing many buffoons and cretins may watch it, true, but the movie itself is not a lie in the way the torture validating movie is. and the idea of damaging to conversation? oh puhleeze. "we need a conversation about this!" "oh wait I don't like you, you're damaging the conversation" how typically wussyliberal.
Posted by obama acquiesced in torturers on January 12, 2013 at 7:34 AM · Report this
Rotten666 9
These protesters are so brave, protesting a movie they haven't even seen. Also, what's with the random pick of the east african woman?

And, what the wholly fucking hell is @4 talking about?
Posted by Rotten666 on January 12, 2013 at 7:31 AM · Report this
Fnarf 8
@7, I believe @4's point was that government torture is now enthusiastically supported by people whose central religious figure was tortured by the government, which is indeed a rather sick irony.

The movie's point isn't just torture, but that torture was specifically invaluable in finding Bin Laden, which is a lie. As such, the movie makes the claim that torture, while horrible, is a successful tactic for making us safer, which is also a lie.

"Come your own conclusion" is just bullshit; the movie is not history, and history actually exists. If you "come to your own conclusion" here, you are being lied to. The movie is pro-torture, and that is message being heard (as the waterboard champion in the second paragraph demonstrates).

The conversation being promoted by this movie is "torture is awful, but it works, so we should do it" vs. "torture is awful, we shouldn't do it even though it works". That is a lie. The KEY FACT about torture is that it does not work.

I think it's the most offensive thing that's happened in a mainstream American movie since "Birth of a Nation".

People who think that "Django Unchained" is awesome or watch this movie think they're participating in a discussion about history but they are not. It is damaging to the national conversation.
Posted by Fnarf on January 12, 2013 at 7:18 AM · Report this
Actually @4, Christ's torture and death has not been discarded, it is in fact the entire basis for Christianity! I'm not too clear on the details, but I think the dogma goes something like this: "Christ died for your sins, so don't have sex or eat meat on Fridays." Also @4, congratulations on making this thread about religion in just four posts.
Posted by Brandon J. on January 12, 2013 at 6:39 AM · Report this
@1 That was just because we didn't know we were doing it. Latin America especially might disagree that we found it inconceivable.
Posted by giffy on January 12, 2013 at 6:34 AM · Report this
I would like to take this moment to remind everyone that the Nation Defense Authorization Act still exists, it allows the government to treat you like the people in this movie, without a lawyer or trial. President Obama voted for it after saying he wouldn't, and has since said he will veto any bill that seeks to reign in the law.
Posted by Brandon J. on January 12, 2013 at 6:30 AM · Report this
David Thompson 4
wasn't Christ tortured and put to death by the government with popular support? It blows my mind but I guess it's just another portion of the Bible conveniently discarded when it gets in the way.
Posted by David Thompson on January 12, 2013 at 6:17 AM · Report this
JensR 3
@2 I don't want to burst your aliens-are-coming-bubble but "interesting" is not a relevant factor when looking for "truth".
Posted by JensR on January 12, 2013 at 3:00 AM · Report this
Zero Dark Thirty is pointless because it's based solely on government hearsay and allegation. Just like Osama's connection to 9/11, his supposed murder by SEALs is not supported by any evidence other than photos and videos proven to be hoaxes and announcements from government officials. Think for yourself, do your own research. You wiill find the truth to be far more interesting than rehashed government/corporate propaganda.
Posted by Osama Bin Photoshopped on January 12, 2013 at 12:58 AM · Report this
We've become more sadly accepting of the idea of torture, I think, but it's easy to forget how it used to be inconceivable to us, unenlightened and undemocratic, a blatant violation of civil rights (remember those?), something the Bad Guys did, not the Good Guys.
Posted by floater on January 12, 2013 at 12:49 AM · Report this

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