Shortlink to this page:
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UPDATE: New Campaign Live Online

And a new text message.

Tell the Oscars:

contact@oscars.org

Dear Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences,

Zero Dark Thirty should be disqualified from receiving your awards on the basis that the filmmakers deliberately crafted false propaganda in the service of making illegal torture practices seem acceptable and productive. This deceitful twisting of the facts, coupled with special insider access to CIA sources, ties the filmmakers to the government in an unseemly and dishonest arrangement.

As the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence has set the record straight and pointed out the glaring falsehoods presented in Zero Dark Thirty, and as this issue is of vital and current significance to the nation, the awarding of this deceitful film with your honors would confer on it an unacceptable legitimacy harmful to the rule of law and to justice in the United States. These are not trivial matters and have international significance. The awarding of top honors to propaganda films sends a message to the entire world on where America’s values truly stand.

This is a great responsibility of the Academy, and it should not attempt to divorce the artistry of a film from its ethical, moral and legal implications. Creating false dramatic situations that justify torture, while claiming to be based on true events, is unacceptable. Torture is a war crime punishable by 20 years incarceration or the death penalty if the victims die – as several have already done. Witness your own Award Winning Taxi to the Dark Side.

Original Version:

Dear Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences,

I am writing to inform you of my intention to create a campaign to disqualify the film Zero Dark Thirty from receiving your awards on the basis that the filmmakers deliberately crafted false propaganda in the service of making illegal torture practices seem acceptable and productive.

This deceitful twisting of the facts, coupled with special insider access to CIA sources, ties the filmmakers to the government in an unseemly and dishonest arrangement.  As the Senate Intelligence oversight committee has set the record straight and pointed out the falsehoods presented in the film, and as this issue is of vital and current significance to the nation, the awarding of this deceitful film your honors would confer on it an unacceptable legitimacy that can be harmful to the rule of law and to justice in the United States.  These are not trivial matters and have international significance.  The awarding of top honors to propaganda films sends a message to the entire world on where America’s values truly stand.  This is a great responsibility of the Academy, and it should not attempt to divorce the artistry of a film from its obvious political, ethical, moral and legal implications.  Creating false dramatic situations that justify torture is unacceptable, and torture is a war crime punishable by 20 years incarceration or the death penalty if the victims die — as several have done.

I hope to make an issue out of this disregard for the deceits contained within the film, and the Academy’s apparent condoning of this false historical propaganda.

Joe Giambrone

The Political Film Blog

Comments
  1. Kieran Kelly says:

    Dear Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences,

    I am writing in support of Joe Giambrone’s recent missive informing you of his intent to campaign to have the film Zero Dark Thirty disqualified from receiving awards from the Academy. Having read the email addressed to the Academy, which he posted on the Political Film Blog, I fully support his stance and will be publicising his campaign and taking whatever steps I can to support it. Zero Dark Thirty is not just apologism, it is inflammatory incitement.

    Yours,
    Kieran Kelly.

  2. Editor says:

    Awesome. Now we just need a few million more.

  3. […] ACADEMY: Disqualify Zero Dark … on The Political Film Blog […]

  4. Dennis Loo says:

    Agreed! You may be interested in two articles that I have written about ZDT too: “Zero Dark Thirty: Bigelow’s “Civilized Lunch” and “Zero Dark Thirty: Journalism? Art? Propaganda?” DennisLoo.com.

  5. Dennis Loo says:

    Dear Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences,

    I am writing to express my deep concerns that a film may be honored and celebrated, skillfully presenting itself as “based on first hand accounts of actual events,” that in fact falsely links the identification of bin Laden’s courier to the use of torture. In so doing Zero Dark Thirty creates in the minds of those who do not know the true story the idea that torture is sometimes necessary. Torture is a war crime and crime against humanity and is expressly forbidden under any and all circumstances by international law for a reason.

    The comments since the picture’s release by Kathyrn Bigelow and Marc Boal have been consistently disingenuous, both as to what their film actually shows and what their intent in making the film is. I have specified the particulars of this in two articles of mine: “Zero Dark Thirty: Bigelow’s ‘Civilized Lunch'” and “Zero Dark Thirty: Journalism? Art? Propaganda.” The articles can be found online at my website http://DennisLoo.com and other sites such as OpEd News.

    The filmmakers have been seduced, wittingly or unwittingly, by the CIA, which they worked very closely with in making the film, as they are presenting a highly romanticized and inaccurate picture of the world according to the CIA. In their film and in their public comments they do not even hint at protests within the CIA itself over the use of some of their “war on terror” tactics, including especially the use of torture and the killing of at least one hundred detainees by torture. Bigelow and Boal’s protestations that they have not made a political statement in the film (how would it be possible to not make a political statement about the most political event of our time?) while explicitly saying that they wanted to celebrate the “heroism” of CIA employees, is on its face self-contradictory. It’s not political to indicate that you’re celebrating an agency that tortures and has a history of assassinations and overthrowing democratically elected governments? It’s not political to indicate through your story telling that torture “works”?

    This film, while made in a highly skillful manner, falsifies history in an egregious manner that will have malignant consequences. It should not be honored for that reason.

    Thank you.

    Dennis Loo, Ph.D.

  6. Editor says:

    Kirsten wrote:

    In recognition of the power of film to promote ideas, and of the Academy’s position of influence on this medium, I respectfully recommend that the Academy adopt a policy that films such as “Zero Dark Thirty” are henceforth disqualified from award consideration. Any film that is a) propaganda AND b) substantially false, should be disqualified. To clarify, here is a good definition of propaganda:

    “The objective of a propaganda is to promote the interests of those who contrive it, rather than to benefit those to whom it is addressed; in advertisement to sell an article; in publicity to state a case; in politics to forward a policy; in war to bring victory. This differentiates it from the diffusion of useful knowledge…The differentia of a propaganda is that it is self-seeking, whether the object be worthy or unworthy, intrinsically, or in the minds of its promoters.”

    The preceeding is an excerpt from the 11th Edition of the Encyclopedia Britanica. Regarding the definition of “substantially false,” this should include films that are billed as true stories or based on a true story (and of course documentaries), yet the account clearly changes or distorts facts beyond small details.

  7. […] ACADEMY: Disqualify Zero Dark … on The Political Film Blog […]

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