The critical commentary about the Bigelow-Boal movie “Zero Dark Thirty,” about the search for and killing of Osama bin Laden, is wrong. The chief criticism is that the movie condones torture. I think its portrayal of torture is likely to repel most viewers, to force them to look away from it. How is that condonation? As director Bigelow remarked, a movie’s showing something is not necessarily endorsing it. Exposure in drama is often, in the best cases, the best argument against it. Think of “Gentleman’s Agreement” or “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.” Portraying cultural anti-Semitism or racism did more to condemn it than condone it. The brilliance of “Dead Man Walking” was that it even-handedly dramatized both sides of the death penalty issue. It isn’t clear in this movie, or in any accepted historical evidence, that torture led to Osama bin Laden’s assassination. The issue of the morality, legality, efficacy of torture is an important and fair issue for public debate. I’m on record deploring the practice, and I would guess so are Bigelow and Boal. So I think this criticism of their movie showing the revolting picture of torture is incorrect and unfair.
Sports & Entertainment
There has been much media attention focus on the murder/suicide involving Kansas City Chiefs defensive player Jovan Belcher. Although it is tragic when any two people lose their lives to violence, it should be remembered that what occurred was cold-blooded murder. That would be the case if it were committed by a bum on the street, a political figure or a well-paid athlete.
The United States of America did itself proud in the 2012 Olympics, winning more medals than anyone else, including gold medals. Almost two-thirds of America's gold medals were won by women, who outnumbered men on the American team for the first time.
This is a wonderful tribute and inspiration to the power of women in our society; however, it doesn't stop there. There are now more women than men in American medical and law schools, and they are making rapid progress in business and engineering schools. Sixty percent of bachelor’s degrees this year will be presented to women in this country. All of this has significant implications regarding the future makeup of leadership in this nation.
On Friday Mitt Romney was asked whether American Olympic athletes should wear Made in America uniforms, or whether American Olympic athletes should wear Made in China uniforms. Romney's answer: No comment.
Mitt Romney is bound to be a great president because the world is falling apart. Possibly any of the past presidents except Franklin Pierce would have been great if the world had fallen apart on their watch. Those sent to preside over petty tasks like the Clintons and Obama will be destined for scorn: It is not the measure of the candidate which makes the great president. It is the depth and velocity of the breakage he faces in his tenure and his ability to survive it standing. Romney will be in that category if the world falls apart on his watch. It looks like it will and it looks like he can handle it.
But there is a disquieting rumor of revolution in the air. It could mean a return to character and honor, but anything can happen. Hollywood producer and Friend of Obama J.J. Abrams sees “Revolution” ahead; it is the name of his new TV series.
Somewhere in the quest to believe, special agent Fox Mulder, aka David Duchovny, ad-libbed a line on "The X Files" about what they called The Elders. Interestingly enough there is since a group of globalists who have actually crowned themselves “The Elders,” but maybe they were busy running for president and missed "The X Files." Duchovny’s line creatively subverted Eisenhower’s great parting shot at the treacherous world he was leaving behind. Duchovny’s phrase was something like “the military-industrial-ENTERTAINMENT” complex.
It pretty much hit the nail on the head, and he might have added “military-industrial-entertainment-educational” complex. In a word, it is not just the newspapers and TV reporters who are embedded with the invading army. It is the entire professional culture of entertainment. The cooperation of secondary or sub-institutions with industry and military has long guided the geist and life force of America and the world. But ever since I saw Suzanne Collins’s great work, "The Hunger Games," on the big screen last weekend, I see it everywhere; the new set for "The Voice," whatever that is; Lou Dobbs's commentary on Fox; the purely partisan Supreme Court. (And could we see their Law Boards, please? Especially the one who doesn’t talk.) Our fate — the fate of my children — is in their hands.
The instinct to imperial conquest has long passed into the universe, but Captain Kirk is still with us, appearing on Broadway today as William Shatner. This outward movement was most poignantly observed by Walt Whitman in his poem of 1871, “Passage to India.” And was this not God’s plan from the first, asked Whitman, that we would travel across the seas to India and beyond; to Sirius, to Jupiter?
“A lot of people are reading political themes into it,” said Stuart Varney on his morning Fox Business show. Reviews are right to feel uncertain about “The Hunger Games.” A new generation identifies with it and rises with it. It is insidious and deep like a changing tide and it reaches in symbol to the deepest anthropological feminine cord; that of Diana, the huntress. Incidentally, so did Sarah Palin. The New York Times’s front-page review in the first line links the picture with the words “teenage survivalist” — the phrase associated with random right militia movements of the 1980s. Others have asked correctly if “The Hunger Games” insinuates “Tea Party” values. No, but yes.
The book was published in 2008 and it was April 2009 when the phrase “Tea Party” came into vogue with the daily rantings of Glenn Beck and Fox and Co. But it does bring to mind the “prehistory” of the Tea Party and the values of Jeffersonian opposition that came to oppose in the George W. Bush era when it appears that Suzanne Collins was writing her trilogy.
The gods hide in low places, they used to say, meaning the simple truths are everywhere apparent and can be told in the simplest tales. One such tale is “The Phantom of the Opera,” best watched with children or grandchildren. Joel Schumacher's 2004 version featuring Emmy Rossum and Gerard Butler is the best. This story has been told a dozen times and will be told again. Possibly nothing tells of the death of Europe like this tale. Worth seeing again because since the fabled fire in the opera house Europe has not recovered. Likely now it never will. It is replaced by varied economic zones which all strive to be the same and which now, with Germany dominant, are required by law and regulation to be the same. And to be more like Germany. Today, instead of Europe we have stylish, modernist economic zones which are heading instead to a nowhereland like that of District 12, the home of Katniss and Prim in the tale of committed love and liberation, “The Hunger Games.” But that which was once Europe no longer really exists.
Before I came to this, the work I did consisted of looking at the world as pictures without words: the Beatles rushing down the stairs together at JFK, Neil Armstrong on the moon, Salvador Dali's 1943 painting of an American messiah climbing out of an egg and another messiah same year in a football helmet, Emanuel Gootlieb Leutze’s painting of Washington crossing the Delaware, Holbein’s full portrait of Henry VIII which signified the beginning of our age. Without words, they form patterns and tell the inner story of our passage. One such photo occurred this week at the Grammy Awards. A sensational iconic photograph taken by AP’s Matt Sayles of Lady Gaga standing alone in the audience, looking mournfully to the left. It has that same quality of James McNeill Whistler’s “Arrangement in Grey and Black No. 1” of an elderly woman who appears to be trying to remember something lost or forgotten. Lady Gaga has dressed herself in mourning and like Whistler’s mother, she appears to be mourning for an age passed. Mourning for herself.