Best Picture Oscars 2013: If 'Zero Dark Thirty' Wins, Does That Mean Americans Are OK With Torture?

During the 85thAcademy Awards taking place on Sunday, Zero Dark Thirty has the potential to be shut out of the big awards categories in another awards ceremony. With all of the controversy surrounding the movie and its depiction of torture, the Academy may not want to show support for a film that has become embroiled in an artistic-political tug-of-war

Zero Dark Thirty is nominated for Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Sound Editing, and Best Original Screenplay, and if the movie comes away empty-handed, it has no implication on America’s moral compass, but would only demonstrate the Academy’s fear in supporting a movie so closely tied to current American political practices.

The success of Zero Dark Thirty has brought torture back to the forefront of the public's mind and has reignited the discussion of what torture is and how we should view it.

The fact that torture has been used is undeniable and photographic evidence and written accounts of torture that were once splashed across all of newspapers and magazines. Once the media coverage of torture ended, though, Americans went back to their daily lives while the War on Terror continued. The success of Zero Dark Thirty does not represent acquiescence to the realities of torture, that acquiescence has always been present.

What Zero Dark Thirty does do is bring the practice of torture back into the media and thus spawns discussions. Once the controversy dies down and the awards season is over, the discussion of torture will die down once again. The political responses to Zero Dark Thirty are an attempt to distance an administrative success from the use of horrible methods of interrogation and detainee abuse. Those in power may fear that awards and popular support for a movie that depicts torture in the search of Osama Bin Laden may cause a passive public to question whether the means always justify the ends.

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Tye Tavaras

A native of Atlanta, Georgia with a B.A. from Emory University in International Studies. A graduate of The American University in Cairo with an M.A. in International Human Rights Law. Recently graduated with a Juris Master Degree from Emory Law School focused on International Law and currently works in the field of international education.

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