“… A film that makes heroes of Americans who commit the crime of torture.”
In response to the pre-Oscar hype surrounding the film Zero Dark Thirty, actor David Clennon issued this statement:
“I’m a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The Motion Picture Academy clearly warns its members not to disclose their votes for Academy Awards. Nevertheless, I firmly believe that the film Zero Dark Thirty promotes the acceptance of the crime of torture, as a legitimate weapon in America’s so-called War on Terror.
In that belief, following my conscience, I will not vote for Zero Dark Thirty in any category. I cannot vote for a film that makes heroes of Americans who commit the crime of torture.”
And in a piece written for Truthout, Clennon said, “If, in fact, torture is a crime (a mortal sin, if you will)—a signal of a nation’s descent into depravity—then it doesn’t matter whether it ‘works’ or not. Zero Dark Thirty condones torture. … If the deeply racist Birth of a Nation was released today, would we vote to honor it? Would we give an award to [German filmmaker] Leni Riefenstahl’s brilliant pro-Nazi documentary, Triumph of the Will?”
Clennon, who has a substantial resume of TV and movie credits, has been supported by actor Ed Asner, but beyond that remains almost alone among prominent people in the film world in calling out Zero Dark Thirty for what it does and what it is. In response to Clennon’s statement, filmmaker Michael Moore set new standards for self-delusion, claiming Zero Dark Thirty’s theme is “torture is wrong.” Leon Panetta, who as Obama’s head of the CIA and Secretary of Defense oversaw the whitewash of CIA torture crimes, was at least consistent. In an interview with ABC news, Panetta—an unabashed defender of torturers—called Zero Dark Thirty a “great movie,” specifically defending the way torture was portrayed in the movie.
Clennon has taken a great risk, and must be backed up and defended by anyone with integrity and conscience. His courageous stand, and the fact that he has refused to back down from it, has opened up opportunities to expose the nature and role of U.S. torture and what that serves. His example should inspire and compel others in a position to speak to millions to do the right thing in response to this movie and the crimes it justifies.