That’s Entertainment

Jessica Chastain as CIA agent Maya in Zero Dark Thirty

It feels like we are in a golden period of film entertainment that I haven’t experienced in a very long time.

In the last couple of months I have watched the first season of the Showtime serial Homeland, which is absolutely brilliant. Way better than 24, which I loved until it ran out of gas in its later years.

I saw Lincoln, Steven Spielberg’s latest, and it was a terrific flick, even though I admit I slept through some of the first hour.

I also recently saw The Impossible, a film about the aftermath of the Thailand tsunami in 2004, through the eyes of one family desperately hoping to survive and find one another. It’s a “put you through the wringer” masterpiece. The Spanish director, Juan Antonio Bayona should win the Academy Award for best director, but with Hollywood politics, Spielberg probably picks up another.

And finally, Zero Dark Thirty, controversial for a waterboarding scene early in the movie in which American interrogators use torture to acquire an important piece of information which eventually leads to Osama Bin Ladin.

The movie is really not political. It is a brilliant piece of quasi-journalism, fabulous acting, a superb script, and remarkable moviemaking about the finding and killing of Bin Laden. The plot centers on Maya, a fictional CIA agent (likely based on several real agents), who pursues Bin Laden almost maniacally for 10 years and finally finds her man.

Zero Dark Thirty shares some kinship with Homeland, which stars Claire Danes as an obsessed CIA analyst who follows her hunches and U.S. spy data to stop an attack on America she knows is coming. The Danes character in Homeland and Jessica Chastain’s Maya in Zero Dark Thirty are sisters in their single-minded devotion to their similar missions.

These three works are amalgams of journalism and dramatic embellishment. I think we are in a remarkable period of creativity in filmmaking. The proliferation of new platforms to watch drama and reward the artists is working now.

But can somebody please tell me how I can get the second season of Homeland? I cannot wait until it comes out in August. I hear it’s available in Australia.

Question: Is torture justifiable for the defense of the United States?

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18 thoughts on “That’s Entertainment

  1. Mike Richards

    Justifiable in extreme cases. How to decide? Let’s say the torture must be disclosed within a period of time. Let’s say the Supreme Court must sign off on it. Make it as unpleaseant as it should be for all involved.

  2. Greg

    Interesting question. First the reality of the movie depiction re eliminating Bin Laden. I believe both Penetta & Clinton said water-boarding was never used on the individual in question Also I believe the author admitted the same. So it was there to spice up the movie and not a reality.
    As to the question should it be used? First why would you do it if it doesn’t provide results? So since they used it it obviously works. So let me ask a question. Assume this guy is part of a group holding your children, wife, brother and parents and planned to kill all of them? What would you do? I know what I would do.

  3. Josh Weaver

    Absolutely not. The way we treat our enemies is how they will in turn treat us. Unless you want every American soldier to be subject to torture at the hands of their captors and have their captors immune to international justice you simply cannot support state-sponsored torture.

    “First why would you do it if it doesn’t provide results? So since they used it it obviously works.”

    This is circular logic, it is a fallacy. People do a lot of things that don’t work, why would people take homeopathic medicine if it didn’t work? Well I really don’t know, but I know it doesn’t work. Secondly, what you would do in a personal situation is vastly different than how our government should compose itself.

  4. allen

    Yeah, it is justifiable.

    Survival justifies just about any extremity and it’s only the folks who enjoy the luxuries of assuming their moral superiority while dismissing without consideration the possibilty of extinction that can afford to be cavalier about the sorts of threats that can result in extinction.

    The danger of course is that those we might entrust with the sort of power necessary to dealing with those extremities might decide to put the power to their own use. But that’s the danger we face in a world filled with folks who see wholesale slaughter as a step to the attainment of their goals. It’s precisely that threat, the misuse of power, that the Constitution was designed to impede.

    I’d love to hear worthwhile proposals which allow us to deal with the Al Queda’s of the world without resorting to the sort of violence Al Queda uses as a matter of course but I haven’t. I doubt, given human nature, I ever will.

  5. Bob

    “Is torture justifiable for the defense of the United States?” Torture, No, Enhanced Interrogation Techniques, Yes! My opinion of torture is plucking finger nails, removing a finger, shooting some one in the knee or possibly a sharp instrument to the eye…(I think I’ve seen too many Rambo movies)…Medically supervised enhanced interrogation techniques are used in extreme cases and are perfectly justified. Amazing how 1/2 the US population went crazy regarding water boarding (which killed no one), but they are silent when it comes to drones dropping bombs killing their intended target and any innocent people around them. The silent hypocrisy is deafening…and yes, if my family or a loved one was in danger, I wouldn’t think twice to water board anyone with information to remove them from harm…interesting topic Lloyd

  6. Gary

    2nd Season of Homeland is available On Demand. The third season is coming out in the fall on Showtime. It’s on Comcast but I believe you must be a Showtime subscriber to watch the shows.

  7. OldJarHead

    Of course it is justified. Josh, you have obviously never served or live under a rock. Our enemies ruthlessly torture, butcher, and burn or service members when they capture one. The animal only understands itself and must be treated equally. In saving my family, friends, and country, nothing is off the table. Had we fought WWI and WWII with the sissiefied tactics and actions we impose on our fighting forces today, we would all be speaking German or Japanese. Also, if our men from WWII were fighting in the middle east right now, we would have finished the job years ago because all enemy combantants would have been erradicted, we would not have waited for authorization to fire like we do today.

  8. Jim Goerges

    Well it is interesting how we use Hollywierd for good honest discussions regarding national security, even though I believe the show is good, I feel too much of America is subject to the liberalism of Hollywood. For example your former pick for further political office from Chicago has gotten himself into huge problems using the peoples money for his Rolex watches and entertainment. Jesse JR. has admitted problems but interesting this came out after his wife spent $750,000 living a Hollywood lifestyle with her ex-husband. Not funny how this abuser of public funds is so loved by 80 percent of Chicago, not to mention yourself! Remember “ENRON”?,that was evil, I agree! I also agree when the government is so big that it is a MONOPOLY, that is OK for them to do anything they want and what they believe is correct and becomes corrupt, why is that OK. Why is Solarna OK, just because it was an attempt at solar? That was 550 million of the taxpayers money. So, to answer your question on waterboarding for the good of safety for Americans, ya it’s all right.

  9. Chris Relyea

    I’m a pretty staunch constitutionalist and believe that the Constitution interprets torture as cruel and unusual punishment as bared by our founding fathers. Additionally, i believe that the US has ratified a number of treaties that bar torture. If we are not going to abide by these sacred documents, then why have them. Either the Supreme Court has to interpret certain interrogation techniques as non-torture, or we have to change the Constitution. Our founding fathers anticipated this and made provisions for the people to change the laws of the land, but, made no allowance for ignoring them when it is convenient.

  10. John Otto

    Well there’s torture and then … there’s torture. I don’t agree with “real torture”. The kind our enemies think nothing of perpetrating on us.

    These assholes took out the Twin Towers killing thousands, behead on Al Jazeera for sport, and I’m suppose to care if they can’t breath? Sorry I don’t sympathize with them for a second.

  11. John Otto

    Couldn’t resist

    Question: You’re walking down a deserted street with your wife and two small children. Suddenly, a dangerous looking man with a huge knife comes around the corner and is running at you while screaming obscenities.In your hand is a Glock .40 and you are an expert shot. You have mere seconds before he reaches you and your family. What do you do?
    Hand Wringer Answer:

    Well, that’s not enough information to answer the question!
    Does the man look poor or oppressed?
    Have I ever done anything to him that is inspiring him to attack?
    Could we run away?
    What does my wife think?
    What about the kids?
    Could I possibly swing the gun like a club and knock the knife out of his hand?
    What does the law say about this situation?
    Is it possible he’d be happy with just killing me?
    Does he definitely want to kill me or would he just be content to wound me?
    If I were to grab his knees and hold on, could my family get away while he was stabbing me?

    This is all so confusing! I need to debate this with some friends for a few days to try to come to a conclusion.


    Southern Answer:

    BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG! click… (sounds of clip being ejected and fresh clip installed)

    Wife: “Sweetheart, he looks like he’s still moving, what do you kids think?”
    Son: “Mom’s right Dad, I saw it too…”
    Daughter: “Nice grouping Daddy”

  12. Ray Frattone

    First let me say that I am all for waterboarding. Second let say that it is not worth discussing any further.

  13. Mike O'Rourke

    Reading these posts makes me think of little kids whose Mom tells them “I don’t care if Jimmy’s Mother lets him play on the railroad tracks, if dangerous and you are not to do that”. It just seems to me that what makes us different from our enemies is our constitution and our williness to abide by it. The wording in the Declaration of Independence doesn’t say “all Americans are created equal” its “all men are created equal”.

  14. John "Jack" Frost

    It is difficult for me to understand torture in any circumstance. As a WWII combat fighter pilot I lost three pilots to beheading and if the post war investigators got the facts right the victims were abused with bayonet stabs before they succumbed. That is a WAR CRIME. Such actions as those are not to be condoned by any civilized society. There are times when tactical intelligence obtained by means that suits the situation to prevent the imminent loss of troops for lack of situation awareness. The means to obtain this intelligence is considered on-going combat. In combat, prisoners are taken and interrogated to determine future actions. It is a question of judgement as to how severe the interrogation has to be to satisfy the current situation. The present question is torture justified at any time to obtain information for use in the future. It took us five years of pay=offs for indigenous defectors and at least 5 top rank intelligence officers and one very cooperative Pakistani doctor, who is suffering for has part, innumerable water boardings to find Bib Laden. Why because we don’t have the trained field operatives to gather and vet our human intell collection. We were well on our way to developing a professional field force when President Carter and his buddy Admiral eviscerated our field forces. Torture is only used when you lack the assets to gather info in a routine and organized way. I am afraid we will continue to torture because there is little of the needed dedication evident in our culture today. We have built up a culture of 1984 intell, which seems to satisfy the narcissism of today, but let George tote the load of volunteer combat. Is torture necessary to protect the U.S., not if you are willing to volunteer to do it differently.

  15. ms

    Too funny, I get a kick out of everyone that is willing to torture someone because they “think” this person might have some valuable information.

    Once the “valuable” information is obtained, do you go torture someone else to make sure it’s true? How do you know what the real truth is?

    What if it’s your guys that are the ones doing the lying? Pretty obvious now that Bush and Cheney were lying about Iraq. What do we do about our own liars, give them a medal (or a new heart)?

    It’s probably better if we don’t torture. We can just keep flying drones and blast anybody on the ground in the middle east that is running around with an RPG. It’s a lot cleaner that way.

  16. ms

    It was all a big coverup, but we’ll never know the answer. Kind of like looking for Bin Laden and WMD’s underneath your chair in the Oval Office. LOL


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