We considered going to see Kathryn Bigelow's latest film Zero Dark Thirty this past weekend but were deterred by reports of graphic scenes of violence in the form of torture. I like the line from the Golden Globes that Bigelow should know about torture after being married to James Cameron for three years, but this is no laughing matter.
The United States went through the public embarrassment of Abu Ghraib in Iraq and there are many other grim examples of torture, including Guantanamo. In addition, Zero Dark Thirty is being criticized as inaccurate in suggesting that torture helped find Osama Bin Laden.
Canada has its own controversies about torture in the Mahar Arar case and others, although we seem to prefer having others inflict the violence for us.
Christian groups have been protesting at various openings for the film:
"Hundreds of thousands of people will see Zero Dark Thirty, and many of them will walk out of the theater believing they saw the truth," said the Rev. Richard Killmer, Executive Director of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. "But the film is not based on the facts about torture. It is a work of fiction that depicts graphic acts of torture; it is neither investigative journalism nor congressional oversight. The movie’s inappropriate -– and dangerous –- implication that the use of torture by U.S. authorities produced critical intelligence, including finding Osama bin Laden, is inaccurate."
What do you think about the depiction of torture in films as a dramatic device not based in fact? What about governments using torture as a tactic, ostensibly to save lives? Is is ever acceptable?