PRINT March 2013



I wish to respond to Artforum’s coverage of Kathryn Bigelow’s recent work [“1000 Words,” introduction by Amy Taubin, January 2013].

Zero Dark Thirty represents torture as a path to truth. Its director questions whether these truths are worth it. She thereby sidesteps a more pressing question. Why does the movie suspend the audience’s sense of disbelief—by way of aggressively naturalistic directing and a rhetoric of “real events”—to establish a causal relationship between torture and fact? According to Bigelow’s chain of “real events,” bribery leads to deceit, but waterboarding leads to reality. There may be some dead ends here and there. But ultimately, it’s as clear-cut as a crossword puzzle.

Within the moral syntax of the contemporary mainstream, including even the famously bellophilic New York Times, Zero Dark Thirty stands out. Obama’s preference for assassinations over torture

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