Morning Coffee: How Not to be a Critic

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Once, there was a movie so well done that it took in $24 million during its opening weekend. And it was a controversial work that dealt with the assassination of a public enemy a few short years after his death. It portrayed government agents employing torture methods to accomplish their goals and the CIA made a public statement against the storytellers’ bold claims. But after awhile, everybody got over themselves and the movie got the acclaim it deserved.

Zero Dark Thirty is not that movie, but it comes close. The sad part is that most of what I just wrote is true, except nobody seems to be able to get over it yet. As a matter of fact, just last week, David Clennon, a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (Ampas,) publicly stated his position against the movie, saying it “promotes the acceptance of the crime of torture, as a legitimate weapon in America’s so-called War on Terror. I cannot vote for a film that makes heroes of Americans who commit the crime of torture.”

He then went as far as to ask others to snub the movie as well, inciting Sony president Amy Pascal to respond with a statement of open outrage. “Zero Dark Thirty does not advocate torture. To not include that part of history would have been irresponsible and inaccurate,” she said in a statement on Friday.

Amy went on to say, “We are outraged that any responsible member of the Academy would use their voting status in Ampas as a platform to advance their own political agenda.” And Sony has every right to be. This is, first and foremost, a work of fiction based in fact. Where entertainment comes first, one can assume the writers and director will blur some lines and cut a few corners. You know, because it’s a movie.

David Clennon falls from a height of responsibility with his statements. Exercising his own right to vote against the film out of a personal sense of duty was his right, but using his elevated status to sway others to his side is irresponsible at least.

The entertainment world is rife with varied interpretation. That’s the nature of art in general. What we don’t need is people with bullhorns encouraging everyone else to snub a movie that’s obviously incredibly talented and deserving of an Oscar.

Mr. Clennon, you fail in your responsibility to conduct yourself professionally and have stooped to a level that should warrant a knuckle-rapping. We’re not running for class president anymore.

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