Zero Dark Thirty and the value of ambiguity

Josh Larsen

January 28, 2013

Great column. I could have used these eloquent words when I was stumbling over my own just last night on this topic with friends.
In the end I think it's a good thing that we are talking about it, and if it takes a movie to get us to do that, at the conversation is happening.

January 28, 2013

Very well said. Thank you!

Joshua Pease
January 28, 2013

I completely agree with this, and would add that moral ambiguity - in a deeply broken world - doesn't have to be the relativist "there is no truth" hallmark Christians sometimes make it out to be.

Zero Dark Thirty is a great example of this - yes, an evil man was killed, but the world that necessitated that killing in the first place is broken and flawed and barely better off with bin Laden dead. Whatever hope there is in life, doesn't come through military victories or "enemies" being punished.

This is a message we as followers of Jesus should resonate with, I think.

Mike P
January 29, 2013

I think this review oversimplifies the concerns and objections of the various objections to the film. For example, Greenwald doesn't believe that the effectiveness of torture counts as an endorsement of it, he worries about the practical effects of presenting as fact (Bigelow proclaimed an "almost journalistic approach") something that is not true. But setting all that aside, the review irks me because it lashes out at its critics in the same erroneous way that Bigelow did in her own defense in the LA Times, i.e., by accusing critics of wanting to deny Bigelow her first amendment rights. Larsen argues "Otherwise, in our rush to demand that a picture says the right thing about a topic in the right way, we come perilously close to something not nearly as troublesome as torture, but still worrisome: the shadow of artistic censorship."

There's all the difference in the world between strong disagreement and even condemnation and censorship.

Josh Larsen
TC Staff
January 30, 2013

Thanks for your comment, Mike. I understand your concern over my raising the issue of censorship; indeed, that’s why I hedge my bets a bit by using the phrase “shadow of artistic censorship.” Certainly Bigelow’s freedom of speech has not been restricted in any way. Yet I would argue that the response by some to Zero Dark Thirty has gone far beyond “strong disagreement” and, indeed, taken the tone of “condemnation,” to use your words. Part of this has been the phenomenon of denouncing the film before seeing it (something others besides Greenwald have felt comfortable doing). That casts a shadow to me.

Michael Snow
February 24, 2013

And the beat goes on while churches remain silent on such issues. There was a day when that was not so.

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