When critics first accused Zero Dark Thirty of being pro-torture back in early December, director Kathryn Bigelow was quick to clarify that she did not personally endorse the interrogation methods depicted in the film. When three U.S. senators claimed that Zero Dark Thirty was pro-torture a few weeks later, Bigelow again clarified that she did not personally endorse the interrogation methods depicted in the film. Now that Zero Dark Thirty is finally in wide release and the accusations that the movie is pro-torture are being levelled by a new, more diverse demographic, Bigelow has again clarified her stance on the issue. This time, her clarification has taken the form of an essay written for the L.A. Times.
“I’m not sure I have anything new to add, but I can try to be concise and clear,” Bigelow begins. “First of all: I support every American’s 1st Amendment right to create works of art and speak their conscience without government interference or harassment. As a lifelong pacifist, I support all protests against the use of torture, and, quite simply, inhumane treatment of any kind. But I do wonder if some of the sentiments alternately expressed about the film might be more appropriately directed at those who instituted and ordered these U.S. policies, as opposed to a motion picture that brings the story to the screen.”
She could have ended the essay right there, but Bigelow continues: “Those of us who work in the arts know that depiction is not endorsement. If it was, no artist would be able to paint inhumane practices, no author could write about them, and no filmmaker could delve into the thorny subjects of our time. This is an important principle to stand up for, and it bears repeating. For confusing depiction with endorsement is the first step toward chilling any American artist’s ability and right to shine a light on dark deeds, especially when those deeds are cloaked in layers of secrecy and government obfuscation.”
For the complete essay, click here.