Zero Dark Thirty Director Takes On Critics

'Depiction is not endorsement,' director writes in LAT op-ed

January 16, 2013

A group of left-wing actors has thrown its weight behind an effort to shut out Zero Dark Thirty from the Academy Awards. The Hollywood Reporter notes:

Martin Sheen and Ed Asner are joining the protest against the hotly debated torture scenes in Zero Dark Thirty, Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal's Oscar-nominated nail-biter about the hunt for Osama bin Laden. …

Both Sheen and Asner have issued an appeal to fellow actors to let their conscience guide them in deciding whether to cast a best-picture Oscar vote for the movie, reports CBS' Los Angeles affiliate station.

The two are siding with David Clennon, an actor who is also a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science, in his campaign urging other members to "sign on to the letter," according to the Los Angeles Times.

Huffington Post writer G. Roger Denson criticized the trio for their outspoken attacks on a fellow artist:

The saddest effect of the anti-ZDT camp is its swerve toward a new McCarthyism. … The advocates of artist's rights to free and fair expression -- especially those attuned to such widespread principles as irony, catharsis, and sublimation, and so adeptly applied by Kathryn Bigelow in ZDT -- aren't likely to follow you into summoning to mind the blacklisting of the 1950s.

Bigelow herself has largely ducked the controversy, saying she prefers to let the work speak for itself. She broke that silence in an op-ed Wednesday for the Los Angeles Times:

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. …

Bin Laden wasn't defeated by superheroes zooming down from the sky; he was defeated by ordinary Americans who fought bravely even as they sometimes crossed moral lines, who labored greatly and intently, who gave all of themselves in both victory and defeat, in life and in death, for the defense of this nation.

Additionally, former State Department official Liz Cheney, board member of Keep America Safe, is defending the film: