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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What does ‘good’ even mean, anyway?

Tim Tebow is a terrible NFL quarterback whose value at that position comes from his size and strength, which allows him to run short-yardage situations with some success. He completed a pathetic 46% of his passes for a league worst 124 yards per game in 2011. His incredibly popularity, wildly disproportionate to his skills on the field, is based largely on his public profession of faith and the fascination the public has with someone who appears so different from the typical American professional football player (think Ray Lewis).

Perhaps it’s a dramatic oversimplification of his place in the spotlight, but Tebow is generally regarded as a good guy, and there are many puff pieces like this that can’t stop gushing over what a good guy he is – puffiness incarnate. Yeah, he’s not that good of a guy.
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