Variety editor Tim Gray has a strong column today decrying the political swirl around "Zero Dark Thirty." An excerpt:
... The negative intersections are the attacks on the depiction of fracking in "Promised Land" and, worse, the government's notification to Mark Boal and Kathryn Bigelow that they may be called before a Senate Investigation Committee hearing into "Zero Dark Thirty" and its depiction of torture. No date is set, but they were told they'll be given short notice before being asked to testify.
"Zero Dark Thirty" is the first pic to be singled out for D.C. investigation since the blacklist era more than 60 years ago.
The horror of the HUAC blacklist is not just that it occurred but that people allowed it to continue for so long. The "Zero" saga is a modern variation of a blacklist: It's one of many smear campaigns that spread like wildfire in a digital world and that the mainstream media then picks up but never follows through on the outcome. ...
... Even if the Senate hearing is cancelled -- and one profoundly hopes that it is -- the nastiness could discourage filmmakers from tackling hot-button topics. On the other hand, the film is doing surprisingly well for a tough look at current events, with five Oscar noms, $78.6 million at the domestic box office and overseas B.O. of $12.8 million in only eight territories.
Despite the pressures, Boal smiled last week and said, "I feel pretty blessed with this film." Sony has domestic, Universal overseas. Speaking of Sony, he said, "This is a huge global conglomerate. And they released this movie! In theaters! And put their name on it! There are not a lot of executives who would have done that."
I've always been careful during awards season to never spotlight any one nominee, in the interest of fairness. But this is an exceptional case because of the senators' letter and the threatened Senate hearing. Such things have never happened in my 30 years at Variety. For the sake of Hollywood and the country, let's hope they never happen again.
Unfortunately, there is no end in sight to the spread of misinformation in a digital world, with no evidence, and no subsequent clarifications, retractions or accountability. To paraphrase Joseph Nye Welch's question to the HUAC committee, have you people no sense of decency?