Sunday, January 27, 2013

Quote of the day

"Those of us who work in the arts know that depiction is not endorsement. If it was, no artist would be able to paint inhumane practices, no author could write about them, and no filmmaker could delve into the thorny subjects of our time.

This is an important principle to stand up for, and it bears repeating. For confusing depiction with endorsement is the first step toward chilling any American artist's ability and right to shine a light on dark deeds, especially when those deeds are cloaked in layers of secrecy and government obfuscation."

Director Kathryn Bigelow responds to accusations that her new film Zero Dark Thirty, about the US pursuit of Osama bin Laden, glorifies torture. Whether or not this is a disingenuous defence of the film, as has been suggested in some quarters, the principle is true - critically so.


Simon said...

Žižek retorts!

Ben said...

Well, yes, but Zizek's issue is with the validity of this statement with respect to the film itself, rather than with the statement itself. He may have a point, but I can't comment on that as I haven't seen the film. (Interestingly, it seems Michael Moore has argued the opposite - that it's very much anti-torture.)

Zizek's references to rape made me think of 'This Is England '86'. Shane Meadows depicted a brutal rape scene but this was far from endorsement - on the contrary, it was possibly the most harrowing five minutes of TV I've ever witnessed.

Zizek's point is that there's no such thing as depiction, really - even if something horrific is presented supposedly neutrally, the audience is still subtly directed towards one response or other (normalisation/acceptance or horror). His argument here is that Bigelow frames the depiction of torture in such a way as to endorse it (or at least not condemn it).