The dark and the past

Hi. Welcome to 2013.

I’ve done a couple versions of this blog in my head. I’m not sure which will emerge. Saying I’ve thought about it might raise expectations of its profundity. You should lower those.

The other night a guest and I had a disagreement about the upcoming movie Zero Dark Thirty. He advocated that the movie seemed in poor taste. I argued the null case.

Now the argument was neither too interesting nor a source of drama. What I found most interesting is that I was arguing against my own initial point of view. Instinctively, instead of just agreeing with my guest when the subject came up, I just had to take the opposite case. I’m some sort of contrarian.

For those of you who haven’t heard of Zero Dark Thirty, the movie is about the American investigation, assault and execution of Osama bin Laden. When I heard of the movie, my immediate visceral reaction was distaste. I had no interest in seeing a movie about a real life execution. Anyone making such a movie is catering to the basest desires of their audience.

That was my reaction. When my guest explained his stance he indicated that dwelling on such a dark piece of history is itself is ill seeming. What is done is done. Going back glorifies what needs no glory. He also indicated that we were still to close to the event for any emotional distance to be available.

Whenever I react as strongly as I did, I often second guess myself. The arguments I gave myself were the same ones I later relayed to my guest. The crux of the argument is that as an art form the primary goal of a movie should not be to entertain. I think I’ve said this before somewhere, but I hold with the Douglas Adams definition of art: it’s purpose is to hold a mirror up to nature.

In that light not having a movie like Zero Dark Thirty means that movies aren’t fully upholding their mandate. So the value of the movie would be dependant on whether it was simple exploitation of an event or whether it was actually art.

Further reading on the movie shows that the drama of the movie focuses on the investigation and the efforts of one intelligence analyst, played by Jessica Chastain, to convince the powers that be that bin Laden was hiding almost in plain sight, in comfort, not huddled in a cave with a single thread bare blanket for warmth.

That expansion of the plot shifts the focus from a movie about an execution to something with a real potential for drama. That seems to argue for art. But the movie still climaxes with the assault and execution.

Eh. Art or not, the question remains is this something I want to see? My initial reaction of distaste remains. I had no interest in watching the news coverage as they went over what happened. I have little interest in seeing that fictionalized. In that vein, I agree with my guest and wish I had said so in the argument. Life is short. No need to dwell on its darkness.

Which brings us to the new year. Last year is past. It should not be forgotten, but living in the past helps us not a whit. 2013 is here and we continue to move forward in the future.

I’m trying to do so with hope, optimism and love. Hope I encounter y’all there as well.

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2 thoughts on “The dark and the past

  1. Robbob says:

    Well you put far better words to my argument then I ever did 🙂 but as to 2013 I agree wholeheartedly!!!

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