Once Again, You Can’t Have It Both Ways.

Zero-Dark-Thirty__121106175531Zero Dark Thirty is a decent movie whose depiction of torture in the search for Bin Laden has touched off a series of accusations/protests against the film. Here is one such example, a letter from Senators McCain, Feinstein and Levin directed to Michael Lynton, chairman of Sony Pictures: “With the release of Zero Dark Thirty, the filmmakers and your production studio are perpetuating the myth that torture is effective. You have a social and moral obligation to get the facts right.”

This is a flawed argument in a number of ways. First and foremost, movies are under no obligation, moral or otherwise, to get the facts right. This is silly. Movies are at their core, Adam Sandler and otherwise, art, and art knows no obligations save for itself. That’s what makes it art. The marketplace determines whether the movie will sink or swim, critically and commercially, so encouraging filmmakers to censor themselves for the social good is an idea on par with letting Tim Tebow start at quarterback.
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