First Kathryn Bigelow was attacked by douchebag maximus Bret Easton Ellis who tweeted, with his signature nuance and misogyny, "Kathryn Bigelow would be considered a mildly interesting film-maker if she was a man but since she's a very hot woman she's really overrated." Then, on a more substantive level, senators wrote a letter expressing their "deep disappointment" with the film, which they called a "grossly inaccurate and misleading in its suggestion that torture resulted in information" that led to bin Laden's capture. The Center for Constitutional Rights and Human Rights Watch also criticized the film. At the New York Times Frank Bruni called the film "the political conundrum of the year, a far, far cry from the rousing piece of pro-Obama propaganda that some conservatives feared it would be." And the film's Washington DC premiere was met with a political protest.
Wednesday, Bigelow penned an op-ed in her own defense, in which she made clear her stance on torture:
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.
and then made the extremely important point that should be obvious to people, but sadly isn't:
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....
On a practical and political level, it does seem illogical to me to make a case against torture by ignoring or denying the role it played in U.S. counter-terrorism policy and practices.
I saw the film last night. And, full disclosure, I'm a Nation-reading, Upper-West-Side, lefty. And I agree while the film depicts torture, it does not endorse it. It shows it as something disgusting instead of sanitizing it. It's true that the film does not vilify the torturers. But, it is also true that the film refuses to vilify the torture victims, and even portrays them in a sympathetic light. It's not clear whether torture played a direct role in finding Osama bin Laden. But torture was rampant and systemic for a period following 9/11. And to pretend it wasn't would have been dishonest and trivializing. Bigelow wanted to show the ugly side of the war on terror. And she certainly did.