Summary: The real story told by “Zero Dark Thirty” is the historic victory of bin Laden, and the price he paid for it. Americans demonstrate this by their ignorant, enthusiastic applause for darkness of The New America, and their eager acceptance of the lies lovingly told by the film.
About the hit by a heavily armed high-tech special ops team on an unarmed old guy and some women living in a suburban house, gloriously dramatized by “Zero Dark Thirty”:
What endures on the screen are scenes that can make a viewer ashamed to be American, in the context of a movie whose ending scene makes viewers very, very proud to be American.
— “Two Cheers for Zero Dark Thirty’s Torture Scenes“, Spencer Ackerman at Wired’s “Danger Room”, 10 December 2012
Bin Laden and al Qaeda accomplished what might be the most effective single military operation in history, especially on a effect per man basis. It cost Bin Laden his life, eventually — a price he probably considered a fair exchange for this historic victory.
9-11 changed the course of a great nation, turning America decisively toward the dark side. Massive internal surveillance, militarization of police, endless war, hatred of Islam., torture, lifetime detention without trial, incessant propaganda, and a stream of fake terror plots (created by the government).
We pay for this with larger deficits, loss of global leadership, and corruption of our people (eg, jingoism, bloodlust). We see celebrate these things, the death of the America-that-once-was, by applauding the film “Zero Dark Thirty”.
Welcome to The New America! Brought to you by al Qaeda and the US government, with the willing assistance of the US people.
For more about bin Laden see:
- Important: Was 9/11 the most effective single military operation in the history of the world?, 11 June 2008
- Bin Laden wins by using the “Tactics of Mistake” against America, 6 February 2011
- Important: About the strategic significance of bin Laden’s execution, and the road not taken, 5 May 2011
Other layers to the film’s significance, showing our true selves
This shows what we’ve become. It’s a tragedy, a sad tale that will be told for hundreds or thousands of years to come. What we don’t know is how the tale will end. We will write that, each of us playing our part.
The critics’ enthusiasm “Zero Dark Thirty” provides yet more evidence that the American people have become domesticated, easily led by propaganda — which we eagerly lap up, as dogs lap up smelly galop on the street.
(a) “Don’t Trust ‘Zero Dark Thirty‘”, Peter Maass, The Atlantic, 13 December 2012 — “The acclaimed thriller about the hunt for Osama bin Laden represents a troubling new frontier of government-embedded filmmaking.”
The fundamental problem is that our government has again gotten away with offering privileged access to carefully selected individuals and getting a flattering story in return. Embeds, officially begun during the invasion of Iraq, are deeply troubling because not every journalist or filmmaker can get these coveted invitations (Seymour Hersh and Matt Taibbi are probably not on the CIA press office’s speed dial), and once you get one, you face the quandary of keeping a critical distance from sympathetic people whom you get to know and who are probably quite convincing.
That’s the reason the embed or special invitation exists; the government does its best to keep journalists, even friendly ones, away from disgruntled officials who have unflattering stories to tell.
(b) Glenn Greenwald in “Zero Dark Thirty: CIA hagiography, pernicious propaganda“, The Guardian, 14 December 2012:
Indeed, from start to finish, this is the CIA’s film: its perspective, its morality, its side of the story, The Agency as the supreme heroes. (That there is ample evidence to suspect that the film’s CIA heroine is, at least in composite part, based on the same female CIA agent responsible for the kidnapping, drugging and torture of Khalid El-Masri in 2003, an innocent man just awarded compensation this week by the European Court of Human Rights, just symbolizes the odious aspects of uncritically venerating the CIA in this manner).
It is a true sign of the times that Liberal Hollywood has produced the ultimate hagiography of the most secretive arm of America’s National Security State, while liberal film critics lead the parade of praise and line up to bestow it with every imaginable accolade. Like the bin Laden killing itself, this is a film that tells Americans to feel good about themselves, to feel gratitude for the violence done in their name, to perceive the War-on-Terror-era CIA not as lawless criminals but as honorable heroes.
Nothing inspires loyalty and gratitude more than making people feel good about themselves. Few films accomplish that as effectively and powerfully as this one does. That’s why critics of the film inspire anger almost as much as critics of the bin Laden killing itself: what is being maligned is a holy chapter in the Gospel of America’s Goodness.
One of the things I realized very early on in the post-9/11 world was how many people wanted to maintain the pose of sophistication and skepticism that was important to their self-conception while still embracing the militaristic, racist propaganda that was the common language of our country at that time. For a brief time, a kind of showy sincerity predominated; even the most sarcasm-drenched plastered their cars with those mini American flags. But the shelf life was short.
So a new method for protecting our national self-image of righteous violence against the subhuman Muslim throngs was developed: not unironic embrace of embarrassing patriotism or gauche militarism, but rather reflexive denial of left-wing criticisms of the same. Rather than making the affirmative case for America as the shining redeemer, fighting against the heathens who had wronged us, many among the culturally liberal elite instead reverted to a purely negative argument to undermine and ridicule left-wing critique of our military adventures. So the typical move was not to endorse Bush administration foreign policy but to deride as cranks and loons those who proposed an alternative.
For More Information
About our openness to propaganda:
- Do we have a broken OODA loop? Or are we just stupid?, 25 November 2012
- We are all Republicans now., 8 December 2012
- Mother Jones sounds the alarm about global warming! This time about the north pole., 10 December 2012
- The ice caps are melting! Only massive government action can save us!, 14 December 2012
- Bloodlust – a natural by-product of a long war?, 11 August 2009
- No longer a danger, but a reality: bloodlust in our minds, an inevitable side-effect of a long war., 25 October 2011
- Bleak news, but vital for us to understand: American Morlocks: Another Civilian Massacre and the Savagery of Our Soldiers, 17 March 2012
- Something every American should read, 25 March 2009
- We close our eyes to torture by our government. The Brits are stronger., 9 April 2009
- So many Americans approve of torture; what does this tell us about America?, 30 April 2009
- The Reverse Nuremberg Defense – “We were just giving orders“, 20 May 2009
- Our government does torture, but it is just like the treatment of young reporters by newspapers, 16 February 2010
- The US government at work, doing dark deeds in our name, 13 March 2010
- Reading about American torturers is a bummer. Let’s close our eyes and pretend it didn’t happen, and will not happen again., 22 March 2010
- An expert speaks to us about torture, May 2010