The first review in Rolling Stone Magazine raises some VERY important questions for the reader to ponder, stimulates some reflection about the director’s motivations and what happens amongst theatre audiences when it’s viewed — says a lot about America and it’s violence-prone “kick-ass” culture right now! The movie depicts in detail the use of “enhanced interrogation” (torture) without much judgement and without a doubt will put a broad grin on Dick Cheney’s face!
Just one quote: “Bin Laden was maybe the most humorless person who ever lived, but he has to be laughing from the afterlife. We make an incredible movie that celebrates his death – a movie so good it’ll be seen everywhere in the world – and all it does is prove him right about us.”
The second review – found online at “Spirituality & Practice” – titled “Amorality in the War on Terrorism: A Commentary on Zero Dark Thirty” raises some other significant points to ponder. For example: ‘What Zero Dark Thirty does show us is the value of good “technique.” It’s a movie about how good technique was used to find and kill Osama bin Laden. And we’ve been warned about elevating technique above morality before. Child psychologist and writer Bruno Bettelheim wrote about “technique” in action during the Holocaust:
“It is this price in professional skill and knowledge, irrespective of moral implications, that is so dangerous. As a feature of modern society oriented toward technological competence it is still with us, though the concentration camps and the crematoria are no longer there. Auschwitz is gone, but as long as this attitude remains with us, we shall not be safe from the indifference to life at its core.”
In this passage Bettelheim is talking specifically about German doctors who worked in the concentration camps. But what he says also applies to any situation where the end is used to justify the means, the end is not questioned, and how we get to it is not subject to moral constraints. The lamentable attitude that remains with us to this day is a prioritizing of technique over compassion and life itself.
It closes with this: “Here’s our take-away from seeing Zero Dark Thirty and our attempt to understand its popular acceptance. We challenge its basic assumption that the war on terror is outside the realm of morality. The film endorses any techniques that work to eliminate the enemy. No alternative except killing Osama bin Laden is given any screen time. Surely during this ten-year manhunt, some voices spoke up against a violent solution, even suggesting that the search for Osama be abandoned, but Zero Dark Thirty does not include them in its so-called history. With its single-minded clinical focus on technique, this biased film is making a very strong statement. It is saying that the only response to terrorism is more terrorism because, after all, violence is the American way.
We live in a sacred universe. The choices we make — from the respect we show each other, to how we respond when we are threatened, to how we treat our animals, to what we eat and buy, and what movies we see and support — are moral choices and spiritual acts. May we make the right ones.”
I encourage posting links to reviews like this using social media, or simply send a link to this commentary around by email — because the implications are certainly worth discussing!