Sony Pictures Entertainment co-chairman Amy Pascal's statement chiding actor David Clennon came in response to a comment he made in a press advisory sent out by Interfaith Communities United for Peace and Justice, which put together an anti-torture demonstration today at the federal building in downtown Los Angeles.
In an e-mail to Variety, Clennon wrote that "it would be tragic and stupid if this little dust-up distracts us from THE issue." He included a link to an article he wrote for Truthout.org. posted earlier this week, in which he said, "I'm a member of Hollywood's Motion Picture Academy. At the risk of being expelled for disclosing my intentions, I will not be voting for "'Zero Dark Thirty' --- in any Academy Awards category."
He added, "Everyone who contributes skill and energy to a motion picture - including actors - shares responsibility for the impressions the picture makes and the ideas it expresses. If I had played the role that was offered to me on Fox's '24' (Season 7), I would have been guilty of promoting torture, and I couldn't have evaded my own responsibility by blaming the writers and directors. So Jessica Chastain won't get my vote for Best Actress. With her beauty and her tough-but-vulnerable posturing, she almost succeeds in making extreme brutality look weirdly heroic."
The complete op-ed is here.
He also wrote in the op-ed, "If, in fact, torture is a crime (a mortal sin, if you will) - a signal of a nation's descent into depravity - then it doesn't matter whether it "works" or not. 'Zero Dark Thirty' condones torture. Not a single character involved in "The Greatest Manhunt in History" expresses any regret about the CIA's use of torture. Maya/Chastain gets her man (code named "Geronimo!") and that's all that counts. The end justifies the vicious means.
The op-ed, Clennon said, "clearly states my beliefs about 'Zero' and my responsibility as an American citizen and a member of the Academy."
Update: Clennon adds, via e-mail, that he does not "object to 'Zero''s depictions of torture? I object to the depiction of torturers like Chastain's Maya as heroes.
"I haven't the least interest in censoring this picture. I want thepeople who see it to avoid the movie's manipulations and decide for themselves whether Dan & Maya should be admired or prosecuted for thuggish criminal behavior."