Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Torture, differently considered

My former colleague Angela Zito, an unorthodoxly radical media scholar at NYU, dismisses the liberal complaints about Zero Dark Thirty in favor of a deeper -- and more intriguingly appreciative -- reading:
The film’s “realism” lies elsewhere, buried deep in its own materiality on the screen.  I found it confusing to watch at an intimate level, at the level of the eye.... we’re sharing the experience of the characters who cannot grasp without great difficulty the vast amount of information they must sift through, much of which is images: the plot hinges on the misinterpretation of a photograph of a person. It conveys the reality of their lives through the reality of the materiality of the image itself in our digital age—distortable, manipulable, grainy, foggy, overwhelmingly too much.
"On Not Enjoying Zero Dark Thirty," at The Revealer.

The Revealer's current editor, Ann Neumann, has filed one of the most gripping and artfully constructed essays on a boring subject I can imagine at Guernica. By "boring" I mean a subject I'd normally avoid: forced feeding. But trust me -- you read "The Longest Hunger Strike" not just for what it says about torture (a theme of my digressive reading today, apparently) but also for the way Ann makes characters out of talking heads, vivid images out of phone conversations, empathy out of wonkery, and a terrifying, compelling, and perhaps necessary story out of this most gruesome of topics.

Here's a related post I wrote for The Revealer back when I was its editor: "Making Torture Beautiful."