You’ve got to admit that it’s awfully precious that there was a huge controversy about “Zero Dark Thirty” because Kathryn Bigelow’s film suggested that enhanced interrogation techniques helped intelligence officials find Osama bin Laden but no controversy about the final mission in the movie — to kill, but not capture, the al-Qaida leader.
Some of the film’s defenders believe that the controversy robbed “Zero Dark Thirty,” Bigelow, actress Jessica Chastain and screenwriter Mark Boal of well-deserved Oscars. Maybe so but maybe not; a number of fine films were up for best picture this year.
But it cannot have helped that Ed Asner and other Hollywood lefties urged Academy members not to vote for the film, because they believed that it glorified “torture.” And it probably didn’t help that author Naomi Wolf called Bigelow a “Leni Riefenstahl-like propagandist of torture.”
It also cannot have helped that the family of Sept. 11 flight attendant Betty Ann Ong — who alerted American Airlines that her plane was being hijacked –was demanding that filmmakers apologize for using Ong’s voice, list her name among the credits and include a disclaimer that the Ong family does not endorse torture.
Other critics have acknowledged that Bigelow and Boal depicted the ugly side of intelligence extraction, but they expressed dismay that the film did not depict more hand-wringing on the part of CIA interrogators and decision-makers.