By David Poland

AMPAS Member David Clennon Makes A Public Appeal To Shun Zero Dark Thirty

“I’m a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The Motion Picture Academy clearly warns its members not to disclose their votes for Academy Awards. Nevertheless, I firmly believe that the film Zero Dark Thirty promotes the acceptance of the crime of torture, as a legitimate weapon in America’s so-called War on Terror. In that belief, following my conscience, I will not vote for Zero Dark Thirty in any category. I cannot vote for a film that makes heroes of Americans who commit the crime of torture.”

11 Responses to “AMPAS Member David Clennon Makes A Public Appeal To Shun Zero Dark Thirty”

  1. Guerilla2001 says:

    As a former soldier, I would recommend you talk to those who have endured the brutality of POW status. You know, our guys who have experienced torture. You know, the way Kathryn Bigelow and her team did. Then comment on whether the movie “endorses” torture

  2. Mike z says:

    And Guerilla2001, I as a former soldier ask you to ask yourself what kind of treatment soldiers are in for now. Knowing what America has done they will make their lives are in captivity will be much worse because their captors know America endorses torture. You’re a disgrace to POW’s.

  3. David Poland says:

    America no longer endorses torture. But it did. Are we supposed to pretend it never happened? Does forgetting history bode well for our future?

  4. CinemaPsycho says:

    Does it matter at all that Kathryn Bigelow herself says the film doesn’t endorse torture? Showing something on screen doesn’t necessarily equal endorsement of it. If that were the case, Silence of the Lambs would be an endorsement of cannibalism. Psycho would be an endorsement of matricide. Scarface would be an endorsement of drug abuse. Just because a film is showing you what happened doesn’t mean the film is saying, “this is right and everyone involved with the film agrees with this.” To believe that about any film, whether it be a historical drama or a horror film, is a ridiculously literal reading of a film. Would you prefer that Bigelow and company simply whitewashed history rather than letting people make up their own minds about what happened? Then everyone would respond by saying, “Oh right, what about all the TORTURE – have we conveniently forgotten about that suddenly?” You can’t have it both ways. I respect Mr. Clennon as an actor, but I find his argument to be ludicrous.

  5. Erik Riley says:

    Poor David Clemmons. Can’t make it as an actor, not relevant enough for anyone to give a damn about, but knows that by “staging” his protest of a film nominated for best picture, he’ll get his name in the news again. What a pathetic excuse for “activism”. **barf**

  6. Mike z says:

    Cinemapsycho you are a dolt. Bigelow is the one who is whitewashing history. You’re missing the whole point. Nobody objects to the torture in the movie its the fact that torture had nothing to do with finding Osama but Bigelow shows that it did. The scene where they give the captive food and cigarettes shows he’s talking because he’s afraid of being tortured again. The info he gives had already been obtained without torture. Do some research before you start spouting off stupidity.

  7. David Poland says:

    A strongly as you believe what you are saying, Mike z, at the time of UBL’s death, the head of the CIA acknowledged that “enhanced interrogation” did play a role in finding bin Laden.

    A year later, a Senate committee decided, after torture had been eliminated by a new administration, that torture never worked in any way shape or form.

  8. Mike z says:

    Well David what else would he say. Of course he has to say that it worked or else he might set himself up for some possible future criminal prosecution. He’s the head of the CIA and they never protect their ass right? But if you want to go in this direction you forget to mention the numerous CIA agents who have stated on record that were witnesses or had direct involvement that enhanced interrogation did not give reliable info.

    David, everyone without a conflict of interest who has had access to the full documents said that torture did not play a role in any way to capturing Bin Laden. Why can’t you accept that.

    FACT: All important info that led to the capture of Bin Laden was obtained though non torture interrogation before torture interrogations started. Stop wanting to believe something that has been proven to not work at all.

    They water boarded Zubaydeh 83 times in one month and did he not give up one piece of vital info. “However, in September 2009, the United States Government finally admitted, during Abu Zubaydah’s habeas corpus petition, that Abu Zubaydah had never been a member of al-Qaeda, nor involved in the attacks on the African embassies in 1998, or the attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001″.

    Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded 187 times and all they got was a confession that he was part of the 9/11 attacks ( which doesn’t seem so much a confession, more like an act of defiance).

    Yet the world is wise to what America has done and the repercussions to Americans and American soldiers will be seen in future conflicts

  9. Joe says:

    Wait. Who is this guy and how does he rate AMPAS membership? How did he get in? I looked up “David Clennon” on IMDB and barely found anything at all, much less anything meretricious. The buried lead here might be another story about the Academy’s sorry admission system.

  10. It has been well established that the U.S. during the Bush Administration and even before engaged in torture at Abu Ghraib, Guantánamo Bay, and at so-called overseas black sites as shown in the film, and even taught enhanced interrogation techniques (a euphemism for torture) to Latin American military officers at the School of the Americas now called the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation.

    And extraordinary renditions apparently continue to this day under the Obama administration. These are secret abductions and transfers of prisoners to overseas black sites like those shown in the film where torture is used.

    The criticism of the film seems to have started with a letter that Senators Feinstein, Levin, and McCain wrote to Sony Pictures Entertainment calling the movie “grossly inaccurate and misleading in its suggestion that torture resulted in information that led to the location of Usama bin Laden.” Senator Feinstein now wants the CIA to detail its contributions to the film Zero Dark Thirty, and even wants the filmmakers to include a disclaimer indicating the film is fiction, only based on a true story.

    In my opinion, “Zero Dark Thirty” does not advocate or excuse torture or that torture is effective. Clearly, the CIA and the Bush Administration accepted torture as a legitimate interrogation technique and the film realistically depicts some of these torture techniques such as waterboarding and sleep deprivation in a realistic manner. Reading about waterboarding is not as unsettling as seeing it realistically depicted on the screen. Does telling like it was equal excusing these techniques? I think not.

    I agree with the Director Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal who countered Senator Feinstein’s accusation that torture worked in the manhunt for Osama bin Laden, “The film shows that no single method was necessarily responsible for solving the manhunt, nor can any single scene taken in isolation fairly capture the totality of efforts the film dramatizes.”

    And remember, the filmmakers had the full cooperation of the CIA, the Pentagon, and the White House in the making of the film. Given this country’s use of torture in the past, I for one tend to believe that the film’s depiction of torture of prisoners is accurate. If a viewer needs the filmmaker to tell you the realistic depiction of torture is illegal and immoral, then there is something wrong with the viewer, not the filmmaker.

    Actors Clennon, Asner, and Sheen — knowingly or not — have become shills for a campaign to divert attention away from the bad old days of torture by discrediting the film — a shoot the messenger approach if you will. Hopefully, the rest of the Academy members will disregard these actors and fairly asses the merits of the film.

  11. David S says:

    You are certainly entitled to your opinion. Please spare us
    any further opinions as to whom or what you may vote for in the future or may not have voted for in the past. This should include High School Class President, football team captains, or American Idol Contestants. As you mentioned, this is a ‘secret vote’… perhaps you would be better suited for a ‘show of hands’ vote immediately after each screening of the films in the Goldwyn Theatre. The vote you cast for the film is for the FILM and not the specific aspects of the war and the elements of warfare. I think we all agree that WAR IS HELL!

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“On behalf of all nominees, we would like to express our unanimous and emphatic disapproval of the climate of fanaticism and nationalism we see today in the U.S. and in so many other countries, in parts of the population and, most unfortunately of all, among leading politicians.

“The fear generated by dividing us into genders, colors, religions and sexualities as a means to justify violence destroys the things that we depend on – not only as artists but as humans: the diversity of cultures, the chance to be enriched by something seemingly ‘foreign’ and the belief that human encounters can change us for the better. These divisive walls prevent people from experiencing something simple but fundamental: from discovering that we are all not so different.

“So we’ve asked ourselves: What can cinema do? Although we don`t want to overestimate the power of movies, we do believe that no other medium can offer such deep insight into other people’s circumstances and transform feelings of unfamiliarity into curiosity, empathy and compassion – even for those we have been told are our enemies.

“Regardless of who wins the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film on Sunday, we refuse to think in terms of borders. We believe there is no best country, best gender, best religion or best color. We want this award to stand as a symbol of the unity between nations and the freedom of the arts.

“Human rights are not something you have to apply for. They simply exist – for everybody. For this reason, we dedicate this award to all the people, artists, journalists and activists who are working to foster unity and understanding, and who uphold freedom of expression and human dignity – values whose protection is now more important than ever. By dedicating the Oscar to them, we wish to express to them our deep respect and solidarity.”

Martin Zandvliet – Land of Mine (Denmark)
Hannes Holm – A Man Called Ove (Sweden )
Asghar Farhadi – The Salesman (Iran)
Maren Ade – Toni Erdmann (Germany)
Martin Butler, Bentley Dean – Tanna (Australia)

“I don’t really believe in guilty pleasures. I like to subscribe to Susan Sontag’s thought of no highs and lows. I think dismissing popular culture and popular films can be really dangerous because they may seem innocuous, but some are works of art and even when they’re not they can say so much about the culture that they’re reflecting. This also gets into the idea of canon. What is good and isn’t good? Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about that. Specifically, who writes these canons? Mainly, straight white guys — which basically rigs the system. So, if you have a knowledge of female filmmakers, queer filmmakers, African or Asian filmmakers, some people won’t give them the same culture capital. They’ll say, “Oh, that’s nice niche knowledge.” No, it’s not. You’re just seeing it through the prism of something white and male. Like Shonda Rhimes’ ‘Scandal.’ I love that show, but is it a guilty pleasure because it’s a soap on TV? No. I think it has incredible writing, incredible thought and characters, so we should take it seriously. That’s a long-winded answer to say, “Yes, I love Titanic.” I was 10 years old when it came out and my mom took me to see it three times. I was so obsessed with it. A big thanks to my mom who’ll never get those nine hours of her life back.”
~ Toronto Int’l Programmer and Critic Kiva Reardon