Zero Moral Certainty


I’m in the process of making my way through as many of the Oscar nominated movies I can. I’m usually only 50% impressed with which films end up winning and which ones don’t even make the list, but then again I like really weird films. However, last night I watched Zero Dark Thirty. I wasn’t expecting much to be honest. When I first heard they were making a film about the death of Osama Bin Laden, I assumed it was a cheap Hollywood race to rake in money over a major historical event, akin to Act of Valor.

I left my house at 8:45 to walk to the Gateway and meet my friends Joel, Jeremy, Matt, and Justin. Joel and Jeremy used to be in the military, but now have sort of a hippie ex-pat vibe going, though you know that either one of them could crush your skull if they so desired.

When the five of us left the film, I felt as if my entire moral compass had been spun on it’s head. It was the most morally confusing film that I’ve seen in a long time.

On the one hand, you want to see the dramatic unfolding of the hunt for perhaps the the most infamous terrorist our world has seen. You’re kinda of excited to see him get taken out by an elite group of bad-asses. On the other hand, there’s the inevitable series of events that has to occur in order for Bin Laden to be captured. Mainly, torture. People getting water boarded and led around naked on dog collars.

Director Kathryn Bigelow does a terrific job however, of letting the story unfold before us, not letting her commentary on either torture or Al Queda to get in the way of the bigger themes of the film.

Since I am a Christian with no particular ties to any one nation, I wasn’t going to sit there and chant U.S.A.! in the theater when Bin Laden finally died. But I was kinda of excited. I felt bad that I was excited because as a Christian I’m told to love my enemies, but it also felt like an act of justice. On the other hand, I’m not the biggest fan of empires and part of me kinda felt like rooting for the “bad guys.” The fact that certain operatives could evade capture from the most powerful and technological military the earth has ever seen for as many years as they did, is fairly impressive. It’s a little bit like the underdog kicking the bully in the junk.

Basically, at one point I was rooting for the underdogs, and then I wanted all to be a Navy Seal and get Terminator on some terrorists. I’m a very confused man right now.

I didn’t like how happy I was to see a person die, albeit, a very horrible person. But on the other hand, maybe it was okay, maybe it was justice. I didn’t like the fact the Bigelow actually made me re-examine my beliefs in pacifism and militarism, but then again I think that’s why it’s such a great film.

Zero Dark Thirty begins and ends with a heavy sort of silence. An appropriate way to bookend the questions it raises.

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