The movie, which expanded on Friday and topped the weekend box office, has faced a storm of controversy since even before its limited release at the end of last year. Critics of “Zero Dark Thirty” claim that the depictions of torture not only imply that the enhanced interrogation techniques led to the capture of Osama bin Laden, but that the filmmakers endorse the practices.
Bigelow’s op-ed focuses on the same rebuttal both she and her screenwriter, Mark Boal, have used throughout the controversy. “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,” she wrote. “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.”
One of the main arguments leveled against “Zero Dark Thirty,” and the one singled out by Senators Dianne Feinstein, Carl Levin and John McCain, is that torture led to key information involving the whereabouts of bin Laden. Bigelow countered by saying that while those tactics were used, they were never portrayed as essential to the hunt.
“As for what I personally believe, which has been the subject of inquiries, accusations and speculation, I think Osama bin Laden was found due to ingenious detective work,” Bigelow wrote. “Torture was, however, as we all know, employed in the early years of the hunt. That doesn’t mean it was the key to finding Bin Laden. It means it is a part of the story we couldn’t ignore.”
Check out everything we’ve got on “Zero Dark Thirty.”