Saturday, January 12, 2013

Boycotting "Zero Dark Thirty"

The Hollywood film Zero Dark Thirty, which portrays the hunt for Osama bin Laden, received a 'thumbs down' from politicians Dianne Feinstein, John McCain, and Carl Levin. McCain, a victim of torture in Vietnam, was 'sickened' by the movie's positive depiction of waterboarding. Zero Dark Thirty makes entertainment out of a serious and complex subject, fulfilling Americans' gladiatorial lust for violence and unquenchable thirst for revenge. For this reason, I will be boycotting the movie, and encourage others to do the same.

After bin Laden's death in 2011, the media aired Americans' immediate reactions. The triumphalist scenes of jingoistic celebration reflect a dark reality of the American psyche: an 'eye for an eye' instead of law, order, and justice. I am glad that the terrorist leader is dead and cannot hurt innocents anymore, but this is no cause for celebration. A solemn reflection is what is called for, not partying. At any rate, Americans' base reaction to bin Laden's death was exploited by Hollywood.

Zero Dark Thirty depends on this primitive reaction to make box office income. Instead of extolling the United States' finer virtues, Hollywood filmmakers decided to earn a quick buck. A more nuanced movie about the war on terror would highlight the role of U.S. foreign policy in perpetuating the cycle of violence. A watered down revenge flick is what Americans will get instead - propaganda on a cinematic scale.

It is for these reasons that I will be boycotting this movie. I do not want the filmmakers to receive a single red penny from me, lest it signal that appealing to barbaric human impulses works. Let us communicate to film producers that we are civilised people who want subtlety and truth in motion pictures. Not revenge and bloodlust.

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