Hollywood & Torture

Discussion in 'Politics' started by Adam's Apple, Dec 10, 2005.

  1. Adam's Apple
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    Harrison Ford & the Ticking Time Bomb
    By Jonah Goldberg, National Review
    December 9, 2005

    And that’s where Hollywood comes in. Politically, Hollywood is fairly two dimensional in its liberalism. But artistically — and to its credit — Hollywood seems to grasp that life can be morally complicated. After all, tactics which qualify as "NYPD Blue", Andy Sipowicz, played by Dennis Franz, smacked around criminals all the time. In "Guarding Tess", Nicolas Cage shot the toe off a man who wouldn’t tell him what he wanted to know, and told him he’d keep shooting piggies until he heard what he wanted.

    In "Patriot Games", Harrison Ford shot a man in the kneecap to get the information he needed in a timely manner. In "Rules of Engagement", Samuel L. Jackson shot a POW in the head to get another man to talk. In the TV series 24, the heroes regularly use torture and cruelty to get results. They even mistakenly tortured an innocent woman.

    Hollywood plays a role in shaping culture, but it also reflects it. It both affirms and reflects our basic moral sense (which is one reason why it dismays some of us from time to time).

    It is hardly imaginable that Hollywood would — or could — make long-running TV shows or successful movies where the protagonist is a soaked-to-the-bone racist. Why? Because audiences would reject the premise and so would filmmakers. But, last I checked, there were no howls of outrage when a racist mayor in "Mississippi Burning" was brutalized and threatened with castration in order to give up information. Heck, the movie was nominated for six Oscars, including best picture and best director.

    The issue here is context. Coercion of the sort we’re discussing is used by good guys and bad guys alike — in films and in real life. Just as with guns and fistfights, the morality of violence depends in large part on the motives behind it (that’s got to be one of the main reasons so many on the left oppose the war: They distrust Bush’s motives. Very few of Bush critics are true pacifists).

    American audiences — another word for the American public — understand this. A recent poll by AP-Ipsos shows that some 61 percent of Americans believe torture can be justified in some cases. Interestingly, roughly half of the residents of that self-described “moral superpower” Canada agreed, as did a majority of French citizens and a huge majority of South Koreans.

    My guess is that when presented in cinematic form, even larger numbers of people recognize that sometimes good people must do bad things.

    for full article: http://www.nationalreview.com/goldberg/goldberg.asp
     

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