Originally Posted by DaMovieMan
A NOTE ON THE DEPICTION OF TORTURE
Many-a tweet has been twatted about the use of torture in this film. People have gone on to say that the film advocates the use of torture. The first portion of the film shows Dan doing his thing and interrogating Ammar (Reda Kateb) and I won’t give my opinion here lest I spoil anything but let’s just say, it sparked up a crazy amount of controversy. The New York Review of Books treats the film like the public service announcement that it’s not and concludes that it has “enlarged the acceptability” of the pro-torture side of the fence. Many have come to the film’s defense, including Sony Co-Chairman Amy Pascal. I’ll give my two cents: if you think torture methods are not employed in order to extract information from the enemy during war-time, you’re living in a bubble, probably slept through your high school History classes and dollars to doughnuts you think every single war documentary is debatable. Like it or not, we’re a fucked up species. If the U.S. Military can have an outbreak of a rape epidemic, behind its own doors, you don’t think that they won’t torture the enemy to possibly save American lives? Give me a break. Or maybe you think Oscar-nominated The Invisible War is also debatable. This talk is for the birds. Bigelow and Boal weren’t afraid to depict the ugly truth and they have my utmost respect for that.
I'm not sure what to say except that with all due respect, it seems like you genuinely didn't get what the controversy was about. No one thinks torture wasn't used, that's widely known and public record, I don't think anyone has a problem with the torture that was used being depicted either. The controversy is about the fact that the film purports to be a true story based on firsthand accounts and presents itself as following the facts closely, which it does for the most part. The one huge liberty they took with the truth was to falsely portray the torture as leading to the courier who led to Bin Laden. The movie depicts torture not only as being an effective means of gathering actionable intelligence, which all our actual top interrogators are on record as saying it absolutely didn't, but actually suggests that torture led us to Bin Laden which is in direct conflict with the actual true story the movie is supposed to be telling. The controversy isn't that torture is shown, no one thinks that didn't happen, it's that it's shown as working and leading us to Bin Laden, justifying it in the minds of many, when that didn't happen at all and if anything the false information we got from torture actually led us off Bin Laden's trail for years and set us back. Senators weren't writing angry letters and journalists weren't in a tizzy because they think torture wasn't used, they know it was, they've read all the classified reports detailing exactly what happened, they were pissed off because Bigelow and Boal were apparently afraid to depict the ugly truth and show the futility of the torture we inflicted on people or are just pro-torture themselves for some reason (their darling protagonist was a torturer) because they chose to falsely present torture as helping find Bin Laden when that couldn't be further from the truth and that's about the only significant point at which they stray from the truth. They're not making a documentary, but they've gone on and on about their commitment to the truth and the journalistic nature of the film so making that choice does make the film a piece of ahistoric propaganda, no matter how much you love everything else about it.