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Conservatives Attack Kathryn Bigelow For Doing Research on Osama bin Laden Movie, ‘Zero Dark Thirty’

By Alyssa Rosenberg on May 24, 2012 at 2:08 pm

"Conservatives Attack Kathryn Bigelow For Doing Research on Osama bin Laden Movie, ‘Zero Dark Thirty’"

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Conservatives are apparently very upset that the Obama administration talked to Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal for their upcoming movie about the campaign to hunt down Osama bin Laden—despite the fact that Bigelow and Boal have been clear that the movie will cover the Clinton, Bush, and Obama administrations:

Complaining about the White House’s efforts to stall the organization’s requests for death photos of the Al-Qaeda leader, Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said, “These documents, which took nine months and a federal lawsuit to disgorge from the Obama administration, show that politically-connected filmmakers were giving extraordinary and secret access to bin Laden raid information, including the identity of a Seal Team Six leader.

“It is both ironic and hypocritical that the Obama administration stonewalled Judicial Watch’s pursuit of the bin Laden death photos, citing national security concerns, yet seemed willing to share intimate details regarding the raid to help Hollywood filmmakers release a movie ‘perfectly timed to give a home-stretch boost’ to the Obama campaign.”

This is a silly complaint. First, the movie, Zero Dark Thirty, is coming out more than a month after the election precisely to avoid any suggestion that it’s an attempt to influence the campaign. Second, collaborating with a fictional movie project is as much of a risk for the Obama administration as it is a guarantee of an election slam dunk. Kathryn Bigelow is the inverse of a director like Michael Bay who’s willing to rent his opinions to the government in exchange for lots and lots of military hardware. She’s got a very specific vision, one that isn’t particularly triumphalist and is based more on the front lines than in the halls of power.

And finally, what this kind of objection really reveals is an attempt by conservatives to preserve the idea that only they can authentically represent the troops. When Act of Valor casts real Marines for parts in a silly, overdramatized movie, that’s supposed to be a move so dedicated to honoring members of the military that there’s no valid way to critique it. But when Bigelow and Boal do research to try to give their movie verisimilitude, they’re dupes who couldn’t possibly care about the truth of the story they’re trying to tell.

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