WASHINGTON, DC, December 26, 2012 - Kathryn Bigelow’s film about the pursuit of Osama bin Laden titled Zero Dark Thirty has yet to be widely released and it’s already causing fear and trembling. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz) has denounced the movie for suggesting that torture did the trick in getting the world’s Most Wanted terrorist.
Bigelow says she never meant to suggest that “enhanced interrogation” is okay. She’s asking multi-plexers to judge the film for themselves.
The cave-dwellers will also have their say.
The film is being shown selectively in the East and West Coast and won’t go nation-wide until January 11.
So we have the beginning of a dispute, but where will it end?
There’s fear of uprisings here and around the globe.
Bigelow is a masterful director. She won an Oscar in 2010 for The Hurt Locker, and in a strange coincidence, that same year she beat out her ex-husband James Cameron for the same Hollywood tribute. She did not win over Hollywood or the movie-going public for her film K-19: The Widowmaker, however, which is a fabulous movie.
Reviewers are already naming her Oscar-worthy for Zero Dark Thirty, but it comes with the price of damnation and revolt from forces inside and outside Hollywood.
Did the White House provide classified info to Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal? Only the Shadow knows. Is this movie faithful to the facts? Yes and no.
This much we can say: Kathryn Bigelow is unafraid and she may be Hollywood’s last man standing.
People on “both sides of the aisle” are afraid that the movie may stir uprisings. In this un-brave new world, artistic freedom is being tested up against the cry to suppress. Can writers and filmmakers exercise their freedom to speak up? Can they say what they want no matter how controversial? Or must they bend to the mobs?
Somewhere in America a man, an amateur, sits in jail for producing a video that was stupidly insulting but seen by nobody. He was arrested to make a point, which is that we had better start learning to muzzle ourselves. We have critics out there who are terribly sensitive and touchy. Our First Amendment now comes with an asterisk.
America, yes, the land of the free, home of the brave — but we are afraid. The United Nations is afraid so it is designing plans to curb our speech over the Internet.
The late great journalist Oriana Fallaci was hounded and sued time again for her books The Rage and the Pride, and The Force of Reason. People were afraid of her courage and honesty and so they tried to silence her, but she would not be silenced. Even Christopher Hitchens thought she was too bold.
The Ayn Rand Institute, under the byline David Holcberg, came to her defense in the pages of the Washington Times.
But already people are afraid of the world’s reaction come January 11 when Bigelow’s film will be open for all eyes to see.
People remember what happened to Theo van Gogh and his documentary Submission and they are afraid. They remember what happened to the Wall Street Journal’s Daniel Pearl and they are afraid. They think of Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard, a man still in hiding, and they are afraid.
They think of Salman Rushdie and about books that may not be written and thoughts that may not be shared. Silence is cowardly but safe.
After terrorist bombings in London the UK’s leading writer Martin Amis spoke out and was quickly warned to hush up. At The New York Times, reviewer Michiko Kakutani blasted his books because he was so insensitive against the darlings who’ve introduced fear and chaos to the world.
We will never know how many books never got published and how many movies never got produced for fear of whipping up a medieval whirlwind.
President John F Kennedy said that artists best serve their country when they speak openly and courageously “and let the chips fall where they may.” That is easier said than done. Our First Amendment is stalked by fear. The streets are watching and listening and waiting to erupt.
Sony Pictures will be releasing Zero Dark Thirty within the United States and its producers don’t know what to expect, but they are braced for the worst, as are the producers at NBC Universal Pictures. They will be sending Zero Dark Thirty out to the world, and along with it Kathryn Bigelow.
The lady’s got talent, and she has guts and valor in a world that falls pathetically too short of such virtues.Our First Amendment now comes with an asterisk.
Jack Engelhard is a novelist for such moral dilemma bestsellers as The Bathsheba Deadline, The Girls of Cincinnati, and the classic Indecent Proposal, his memoir Escape From Mount Moriah, and Slot Attendant – A Novel About A Novelist is Engelhard’s partly autobiographical expose about the trials of making it as a writer, bring his words to the Communities page covering all topics, with special focus on the absurdity of human behavior, and reaches around the globe.
This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ WashingtonTimes.com. Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING TWTC CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.