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Imperial Propaganda: Our Highest Achievement

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Bigelow's half-assed response to getting called out by the Senate for putting false torture results into her film, is to say:

"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. War, obviously, isn't pretty, and we were not interested in portraying this military action as free of moral consequences." (emphasis added)

Ignore?  By her reasoning, because the Central Intelligence Agency tortured people, she was required to fit it into the plot somehow, whether it was relevant to the investigation or not.  That's her excuse.  No matter that the scenes are fabrications, and the actual clues about bin Laden's courier came from elsewhere (electronic surveillance, human intelligence, foreign services). 

Bigelow told Charlie Rose, when asked the same question about the torture: "Well I think it's important to tell a true story."  Unfortunately, when confronted with the Senate investigation, truth quickly takes a back seat.

The truth Bigelow now clings to is that, "Experts disagree sharply on the facts and particulars of the intelligence hunt, and doubtlessly that debate will continue."  To Kathryn Bigelow, the fact that the so-called "experts" she has sided with are torturer criminals with a vested interest in her portrayal of their crimes never occurs to her.  She can dismiss the entire matter as a "debate."  Perhaps she no longer finds it "important to tell a true story?"

Kathryn Bigelow, America's Leni Riefenstahl, claims that Zero Dark Thirty tells "a true story," even when confronted by evidence that it is a lie.  She is unapologetic and completely divorced from the real world damage her propaganda encourages.  If this film takes home the Best Picture Oscar, it should serve as the cherry on top of a brutal, deceptive, decrepit and immoral empire, and signal this reality to the rest of the world.  If this is allegedly the "best" of America, then we are truly finished.

As for Ben Affleck's Argo, its sins aren't so readily apparent.  Both films show wonderful Central Intelligence "heroes" acting to further US interests and take care of imperial problems.  The Argo scenario is a rescue, however, instead of a hit.  The problem is that Iran, a country thrown into a bloodthirsty dictatorship after its nascent democracy was murdered by the very same CIA in 1953, is now the bad guy.  There are clearly two sides, and the film takes sides with the people who destroyed democracy in Iran and propped up an illegitimate monarch in order to control its oil and its refineries.  When this despotic monarch whose secret police disappeared, tortured and murdered the political opposition -- with the help and training of the CIA -- is overthrown, we are supposed to overlook all that, because America is always good.  We rescue our people.  We risk our lives, and we come up with elaborate creative plans to help our people.  We are heroic and triumphant vs. the inferior wild-eyed Persians and Arabs of the world.

Now I do believe there's a real story there, and the situation is ripe for telling, but an extreme sensitivity to the political context would be required.

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As Jennifer Epps put it:

""[T]he Iran we see in the [Argo] news clips and the Iran we see dramatized are all on the same superficial level: incomprehensible, out-of-control hordes with nary an individual or rational thought expressed.

" But we never go behind-the-scenes at this revolution. (Instead, Affleck and screenwriter Chris Terrio's tempering historical introduction is soon outweighed by the visceral power of mobs storming walls, chador-clad women  toting rifles, and banshees screaming into news cameras.) 

"The problem is that viewers who don't already know their Chomsky or William Blum aren't going to walk out of [Argo] muttering "gee, it's more complicated than I thought." Instead, they'll leave with their fears and prejudices reaffirmed:  that Middle Easterners create terror, that Americans must be the world's policemen, and that Iranians cannot be trusted because they hate America.

"Argo almost completely ignores individual Iranians; its portrait of an entire culture is neither refined nor sophisticated; and it does reinforce a simplistic, Manichean perspective."

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Enough said? 

So why are Argo and Zero Dark Thirty receiving all these awards?  Are the awarding bodies so full of hyper-patriots who believe pro-American films can deceive and demonize with impunity, that they want to send an unequivocal message of support for these practices?

Is hyper-nationalist propaganda in vogue now?

With the ascendancy of Barack Obama, there is no longer a moral anti-war voice of any significant size in America.  Obama, the smooth talker, has soothed away morality, ethics, law and rights.  The empire is beyond reproach because Obama runs it.  So the liberal center/left says nothing.  Nothing but empty blather and ignorant praise of the Democrats.  Murder is being codified in secret as we speak.  Bush's wars are being publicly scaled down, only to ramp up new covert wars of conquest across Africa.  Nothing substantial has changed since George W., only the style. 

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I think Argo isn't quite as morally despicable as ... by Ross Brummet on Thursday, Feb 21, 2013 at 3:17:53 PM
Your article states that the CIA presently support... by Tracy Goode on Thursday, Feb 21, 2013 at 5:36:59 PM
that Obama engaged in illegal war against Libya, b... by Joe Giambrone on Thursday, Feb 21, 2013 at 8:08:15 PM
You've got to be kidding, or else you just haven't... by Wil Masisak on Thursday, Feb 21, 2013 at 9:50:37 PM
" Comparing the Obama administration to GWB's is ... by Textynn N on Saturday, Feb 23, 2013 at 1:38:03 AM
Obama has ended the war in Iraq as promised, is wi... by Tracy Goode on Thursday, Feb 21, 2013 at 5:39:12 PM
1) Obama didn't end the war on Iraq -- calling it ... by Ross Brummet on Thursday, Feb 21, 2013 at 7:05:29 PM
Not only was the murder or UBL unjustified, it was... by Wil Masisak on Thursday, Feb 21, 2013 at 10:02:00 PM
dead guy without "killing" him.... by Mark Adams JD/MBA on Friday, Feb 22, 2013 at 12:07:00 PM
can only be considered moronic if you accept that ... by David McCorquodale on Monday, Feb 25, 2013 at 7:22:33 AM
Obama Administration Outsources Torture: Can U.S.... by Textynn N on Saturday, Feb 23, 2013 at 1:43:34 AM
"I agree no American should be targeted for execut... by Joe Giambrone on Saturday, Feb 23, 2013 at 2:26:51 AM
There is no evidence that Osama bin Laden was invo... by Michael Anthony on Friday, Feb 22, 2013 at 3:00:21 PM
There is no evidence that bin Laden had anything t... by Michael Anthony on Friday, Feb 22, 2013 at 3:03:08 PM
There are two kinds of people in this world . Ther... by Textynn N on Saturday, Feb 23, 2013 at 1:31:56 AM
Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity take... by Joe Giambrone on Saturday, Feb 23, 2013 at 2:20:14 AM
We should all send this to our senators in DC.... by Lois Gagnon on Saturday, Feb 23, 2013 at 7:54:36 AM
Tracy Goode (and others) don't understand the situ... by Joe Giambrone on Saturday, Feb 23, 2013 at 1:59:07 PM