Sony Chairman Amy Pascal refuted criticism of "Zero Dark Thirty" by a member of the Oscar voting academy on Friday, saying her studio's movie "does not advocate torture."
"'Zero Dark Thirty' does not advocate torture," she said. "To not include that part of history would have been irresponsible and inaccurate. We fully support Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal and stand behind this extraordinary movie."
David Clennon, an Emmy Award-winning actor, wrote an op-ed column for Truthout this week, explaining that he would not be voting for “Zero Dark Thirty” in any categories because it portrays torture as being an effective tool in the hunt for Osama Bin Laden.
“Torture is an appalling crime under any circumstances,” Clennon wrote.” “'Zero' never acknowledges that torture is immoral and criminal. It does portray torture as getting results.”
At a media event on Friday at the federal building in downtown Los Angeles, protesting the Guantanamo Bay detention center, Clennon repeated the criticism, noting:
"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."
"Zero Dark Thirty" has come under fire by some for its depiction of torture in the quest to kill Bin Laden. Last month, three senators — John McCain, Dianne Feinstein and Carl Levin — wrote a letter to Sony Pictures Chairman and CEO Michael Lynton, a prominent supporter of President Barack Obama, claiming that the film suggests that torture led investigators the terrorist leader.
The movie, which has already picked up several awards, on Thursday received five Oscar nominations, including a nod for Best Picture, but Bigelow was snubbed in the Best Director category.
Pascal issued a statement Friday that read in full:
"Zero Dark Thirty does not advocate torture. To not include that part of history would have been irresponsible and inaccurate. We fully support Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal and stand behind this extraordinary movie.
"We are outraged that any responsible member of the Academy would use their voting status in AMPAS as a platform to advance their own political agenda. This film should be judged free of partisanship. To punish an Artist's right of expression is abhorrent. This community, more than any other, should know how reprehensible that is. While we fully respect everyone’s right to express their opinion, this activity is really an affront to the Academy and artistic creative freedom. This attempt to censure one of the great films of our time should be opposed. As Kathryn Bigelow so appropriately said earlier this week, ‘depiction is not endorsement, and if it was, no artist could ever portray inhumane practices; no author could ever write about them; and no filmmaker could ever delve into the knotty subjects of our time.’"