I didn’t see Zero Dark Thirty, but from the hype I’ve gathered that the only two things I need to know are that it may or may not justify torture; and that it’s made by a woman and has a strong female lead.
My point here is not the movie, but the fact that those are the two publicly agreed upon things to talk about. They are inextricably linked. Only a movie made by a woman could get away with asking (neutrally, of course) if torture is necessary; only a strong female character can get away with supervising it, because the assumption is she doesn’t enjoy it, she’s doing what she has to do, her lack of privileged status in the world is precisely what gives her the privilege to use torture when needed. Put a man in that role, and either it becomes an action movie, or too obviously approving of it.
In the real world, the government’s official position that torture was not used comes with a parallel, covalently bonded story: while we don’t know the identity of the real “Maya”, the one thing that is publicized about her is that she sent a mass email to the CIA complaining that… she didn’t want to share any of the credit. It was all her.
That’s the point: the only way to get people to accept torture in real life is through the backdoor of showing a woman did it first.
- Black Women are Less Attractive (If Your Idea of Black Women Comes from TV)
- So-Called Feminism in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
- Katy Perry is silly, Naomi Wolf Is Completely Insane
- “I refuse to be a supporting Character”
- If I wouldn’t want my daughter to do it, then I don’t mind passing a law against it!