Harmful Or Not?

Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates is thoughtful, knowledgeable, even wise in his assessment and understanding of the issues he had to handle. During an interview with Charlie Rose when asked what he knew of the woman led team that hunted Osama Bin Laden, he replied that he had not known of any woman led team. He was as some may remember one of the few privy to the raid as it was taking place. If one is to believe him, his response does not correspond to the portrayal of the hunt for 9/11’s mastermind in “Zero Dark Thirty”, the movie directed by Kathryn Bigelow and written by Mark Boal, where the character of Maya is clearly the team leader. The movie also raises issues in its depiction of the role of information obtained through torture. It implies that torture led to useful information, when several key sources over the last few years have seriously challenged that conclusion. The discrepancies are hardly surprising, despite claims of research—let’s note in all fairness Bigelow’s and Boal’s use of the word research and not truth—the filmmakers’ priority had to have been those of movie making, where the need for emotional impact has been known to trump facts. They were, after all, not filming a dissertation, they were making a movie they hoped would be successful by Hollywood standards. Rightly or not, I assume that unless one is a news junkie, one would more likely accept the film’s version of events as truth. Movies that are documentary-like, that present facts via Hollywood or tilt towards a given perception are far from a new phenomenon. Still whenever they made they come with a question, how harmful are they to the social fabric of the nation?