Why Shouldn’t Point Break Auteur Kathryn Bigelow Get the Same Respect as a Journalist?

Thanks to a crusade by House Homeland Security Committee chairman Rep. Peter King (R-New York), the Pentagon and the CIA are investigating how Hollywood filmmakers got government cooperation in the making of Untitled Osama Bin Laden film

Director Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal apparently received some level of assistance in their research for the Sony Pictures Entertainment project that Bigelow, who helmed Oscar-winner The Hurt Locker and beloved male bonding policier Point Break, says will chronicle efforts to neutralize bin Laden dating back to the Clinton Administration. 

King has since August been demanding an investigation into whether the filmmakers received any operational details about the May 2011 mission during which the al Qaeda founder was shot and killed by U.S. forces. 

Leave aside why any American, let alone a proud daughter of California like Kathryn Bigelow, who has created more value than Pete King ever will, should be denied access to details of the bin Laden mission. Leave aside King’s disturbing-if-true claim that the killing of bin Laden – an act of obvious moment and significance to all Americans – is the "most classified mission in history." 

Journalists have tried, with varying degrees of success, to get the full story of bin Laden’s death. Some subsequent reports have conflicted with elements of the official narrative. King is consistent in his devotion to the same type of secrecy the conquering Soviet army applied to the scene of Adolf Hitler’s death. He doesn’t want any American to know the story. 

But the establishment media seem to believe there’s a bright line between journalistic inquiry and research for a commercial film. King’s original tirade, and that "most classified" phrase, came from a Maureen Dowd column ridiculing Bigelow and Boal’s "top-level" access. Dowd to her credit contrasted this with the Obama Administration’s abysmal record of punishing leakers and put the episode in the context of President Obama’s dependence on Los Angeles’ wealthiest one percent. (You’ll be relieved to learn that U.S. Ambassador to the Bahamas Nicole Avant has been recalled to Tinseltown in an effort to shore up Obama’s movieland relations.) 

Other media have taken King’s all-secrecy premise at face value. The Seattle Times notes that movie people are not the only ones interested in learning more about the raid but does not raise any questions about government intimidation of free inquiry, as you’d expect if this were a matter of journalists seeking access to information: 

At issue is whether the filmmakers…were given access to classified information about the mission that ended in bin Laden's death. While newspapers and magazines have published detailed accounts about the May raid, much remains unknown to all but a few.

I’m just an old country doctor who prefers an informed electorate, but I can think of other reasons why more than "a few" should know the accurate story of how America’s first important enemy of the 21st century was killed. I don’t expect whatever Potemkin version of events the Obama Administration arranged for the filmmakers will fill huge gaps in our understanding. But Kathryn Bigelow is as legitimate a researcher as any journalist, and not just because she makes good movies. (Yes damn your eyes, I will stand up for K-19: The Widowmaker.) If there’s a scandal here it’s that the administration gave a few people special access to information that should be available to all of us. 

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  • ||

    On the right, is that Ross Perot or the scary guy in the Six Flags Great Adventure commercials?

  • ||

    Spiro Agnew?

  • ||

    It's El BJ.

  • Paul||

    Yeah, it's that lyin' sonofabitch Johnson

  • ||

    So that's Gary Johnson. No wonder nobody wants to vote for him. He's kind of creepy looking.

  • El Commentariosa||

    I thought that was Uncle Junior

  • Doktor Kapitalism||

    Whose on the far left? Is that supposed to be Ford?

  • ||

    Nixon.

  • ||

    I have a much better Nixon mask.

  • Jesse Walker||

    Yes damn your eyes, I will stand up for K-19: The Widowmaker.

    But what about Strange Days? Will you go that far?

  • ||

    I will, Jesse. I will.

  • ||

    What's wrong with Strange Days? I liked it.

  • ||

    Near Dark was a really interesting non-glamorous take on vampires, and Blue Steel was good too (Ron Silver was a grade-A scumbag in that).

  • ||

    The latter is the one with the Lady Haden-Guest, right?

  • ||

    Near Dark was excellent. Strange Days had a great opening sequence but was muddled and mediocre.

  • Jesse Walker||

    I like Near Dark and Blue Steel. And Bigelow also directed the only good episode of Wild Palms. So I'm a fan of hers. But Strange Days felt like a weak Hollywood attempt to "do cyberpunk."

  • ||

    Hip Hop seems to be incompatible with cyberpunk. If only she'd been onto Trip hop.

  • ||

    I'd still defend it for 1) an interesting take on selling memories (though with too much "it's like a drug and drugz ur bad" vibe), and 2) Tommy Sizemore's character and betrayal.

    It's far from perfect, but it has some moments and at least strives to be interesting.

    Near Dark is, I would say, possibly her best.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    What's compatible with chap-hop, db?

  • Paul||

    I passed by that movie on the tube recently. I seem to vaguely remember thinking that it was maybe sort of kind of cool when it came out.

    Now it just seems silly.

  • PantsFan||

    K-19: The Widowmaker.
    Filmed in lovely Gimli, Manitoba.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Wow. Some Canuck was a huge Hobbit fan.

  • ||

    Gimli wasn't in The Hobbit, you uncultured boob. That was his father, Gloin. Gimli was a part of the fellowship of the ring in the Lord Of The Rings trilogy.

    Hell, he only med Frodo Baggins once, at the Council of Elrond, which he happened to attend with his father.*

    *It also bears noting that at this meeting Gimli first met Logolas, who would eventually become his close friend even though Legolas' father, Thranduil, had imprisoned Gloin, as described in the (incorrctly by Baked Penguin) aforementioned The Hobbit.

    [pulls up hood/grabs walking staff]

  • ||

    And 'The Lord of the Rings' isn't a trilogy, by the way -- it's a single work.

    BOOYA, MOTHER-FUCKER, PWNAGE.

    *Busts Welcome to the Black Parade by My Chemical Romance to maximum and snorts cocaine*

  • ||

    My Chemical Romance

    FAAAAAAAAAAAG

  • Franklin Harris||

    The only thing wrong with Strange Days is its at-the-time common, yet inexplicable, fascination with Juliette Lewis.

  • Paul||

    And it's "look this is the future" motif when we were a little too close to it.

  • ||

    Yes, I couldn't stand her nor figure out why she was in anything.

  • ||

    She has a particular "slutty white trash" look and act that appeals to some. NTTAWWT.

  • Paul||

    *looks around nervously*

  • ||

    No one would fault you for that, Paul. I mean, if not for that being common, can anyone explain Brittany Spears?

  • ||

    Juliette Lewis was at her best in Christmas Vacation.

  • Bill||

    How about her role as a tween in the re-make of whatchamacallit with Robert Dinero (?) Cape Fear

  • RoboCain||

    Really?

  • Hugh Akston||

    She does sort of look like the kind of girl you would pick up in a Wal-Mart. And leave in the parking lot of a different Wal-Mart.

  • RoboCain||

    Sounds like I need to go to Walmart.

  • El Commentariosa||

    I'd giver her a lick

  • Ice Nine||

    Well, she's certainly dressed for Walmart.

  • RoboCain||

    I thought she was really hot in that.

  • *||

    Goddamn, The Hurt Locker sucked.

    SUCKED!

  • RoboCain||

    I wouldn't say it sucked, but it certainly wasn't the best picture that year.

  • Chinny Chin Chin||

    The Best Screenplay was a bigger travesty than Best Picture.

    There were some interesting elements to that film, but the writing was absolutely not one of them.

  • Tman||

    I agree that Ms. Bigelow is absolutely to be respected as a journalist as well (I mean if Point Break wasn't an incredible expose' of the failures of banking systems to protect themselves from hoodlums dressed as presidents than what is?) but I agree with King that there were aspects of this mission that needed to remain top secret a bit longer than they did, as some of the Pakistani informants have reportedly been arrested due to the leaks from the mission.

    Whether or not the leaks happened because Obama wanted a box-office smash praising his epic battle skills or because some idiot wanted a story, the bottom line is that these leaks put people in danger unnecessarily. Another year or two and it would've been ok, but it appears that some people refuse to respect the fact that this information is more important than an election or a movie.

  • rather||

    "as some of the Pakistani informants have reportedly been arrested due to the leaks from the mission"

    The doctor who went to the house on the pretext of immunizing children was arrested/detained.

    In this type of culture, your involvement with outsiders is atoned by your extended family, including distant relatives who may not have know about the collaboration.

  • rather||

    have known

  • wareagle||

    does calling Bigelow an 'auteur' rather than a director imply greater credibility? As to why she should not be treated like a journalist, how many reasons are necessary:
    1) she's not a reporter; she is a film maker.
    2) journalism, in theory anyway, is supposed to traffic in fact and truth; cinema can be based on fact or factual events but is essentially fantasy.
    3) what is the difference between a movie whose timing with an election is curious and the Swift Boat stuff during the '04 vote? Entertainment is not supposed to be used to influence voting.
    4) the same Obama folks so graciously releasing details to Bigelow are the same ones gratuitously ordering the shutdown of a 'Draft Hillary' website.

    I'm all for an informed electorate but there is nothing in the selective release of Bin Laden info (and you know details would be selectively released) that contributes to anything more than an attempt to puff up POTUS.

  • Hugh Akston||

    1) she's not a reporter; she is a film maker.

    I wasn't aware there was a hard line separating them.

    2) journalism, in theory anyway, is supposed to traffic in fact and truth; cinema can be based on fact or factual events but is essentially fantasy.

    Films tend to magnify drama and simplify certain elements, but vary on how close they hew to the truth. More important is whether the facts of the matter are open for the general audience to check against the film.

    3) what is the difference between a movie whose timing with an election is curious and the Swift Boat stuff during the '04 vote? Entertainment is not supposed to be used to influence voting.

    Are you serious. Seriously? You aren't serious. You're telling me that no entertainment anywhere has ever influenced your voting. Doesn't the fact that we have no Nazis, Sith lords, or Cavity Creeps in Congress suggest that entertainment ought to and does influence voting to some degree?

    4) the same Obama folks so graciously releasing details to Bigelow are the same ones gratuitously ordering the shutdown of a 'Draft Hillary' website.

    Capricious tyrant is capricious and tyrannical. Obomba is walking away with the '012 election with or without this movie.

  • wareagle||

    1) of course, there is a line. People's expectations of a reporter are much different from those of a film maker. Technically, a podiatrist and an OB/GYN are both doctors but you don't expect each to do the same thing.
    2) films, while often based on fact, do not pretend to represent objective truth; if anything, they imply a certain suspension of disbelief. Journalism is supposed to be the straight skinny, not an "auteur's" interpretation of it.
    3) it's not the entertainment; Bigelow's film may well become a hell of a piece. It's the notion of putting forth a film that glorifies Obama DURING AN ELECTION SEASON. Her movie would be just as interesting if it came out in 2013 or 2015.
    4) sad, but likely true. I have learned to never under-estimate the ability of the Repubs to blow sure wins.

  • Hugh Akston||

    I know Tim and Matt's rants can get a little windy, but they are worth reading to forever disabuse you of the myth of objective journalism.

    Every form of human communication is fact mixed with interpretation, all the way to the bottom.

    Also facts are just a particular flavor of interpretation.

  • wareagle||

    the desire for objective journalism is a character flaw dating to my own experience in the field. Facts tend to be objective things; of course, they can be presented to fit pre-existing biases but that ain't journalism. Reporters are not supposed to have stakes in the outcome of stories; today, we have an outlet for every ideology and belief system.

  • Hugh Akston||

    Facts tend to be objective things

    Everyone stay offa wareagle's lawn.

  • Gojira||

    Technically, a podiatrist and an OB/GYN are both doctors but you don't expect each to do the same thing.

    That explains why my wife has been so disappointed with her podiatrist...

  • Ice Nine||

    And the fungus infection...?

  • Gojira||

    Turns out it wasn't a fungus, it was yeast.

  • Rob||

    Betty Crocker snatch.

  • Paul Stamets||

    Yeast is a fungi, as evidenced by its chitin cell walls and life cycle.

  • Ted S.||

    I would have thought that an "auteur" was more than just a director; think somebody who writes, directs, and acts.

    Not that being an auteur makes one's films better; a lot of what Orson Welles did is pretentious shit.

  • POTUS Puffer||

    I'm sure she is a good Potus puffer.

  • ||

    For what it's worth, my wife is Russian, and her observation of K-19 was that it's probably the best characterization of Russians she's ever seen in an American movie.

  • Christina||

    Now I have to see it.

  • A Serious Man||

    I thought it was pretty good, though not as good as 'Das Boot', which remains the gold standard for both the submarine war drama and a movie that depicts the "other side" of an Amercian conflict.

    One group of Soviets that deserve greater recognition are the Soviet firemen that rushed to Chernobyl during the meltdown. Those guys were heroes.

  • ||

    Tvoya zhina na samom dele dumaet shto etot film lutche chem The Sum of all Fears?

  • Gojira||

    Vuy govoreyeta pa roosky? Ya oocheel rooskvaya yezeeka v techaskom technologeechiskim ooniversetyeye decyat gorod nazad.

  • Ted S.||

    desyat' let nazad.

    gorod = city.

    :-p

  • ||

    Ne proyevlai svoyu pedantichnost', patsan! On s dostatochnim ponyatiem sabral to predlozhenye!

  • Gojira||

    Damnit, it's been too many years. I know gorod, but I meant to say "goda".

  • ||

    Too many years or not, that wasn't bad! Easily understandable. Now we can talk shit about Tony and shrike and shit and they won't be able to respond! Llolololol!

  • Mr. FIFY||

    They'll just call you racist, Res, even as they secretly admire your ability to speak the language of the former Soviet Union.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    ...and then they'll get all weepy because the Soviet Union doesn't exist anymore.

  • ||

    Wait, really? :O

  • Christina||

    Johnny Utah is one of my favorite Keanu roles.

  • A Serious Man||

    I'm just glad The Hurt Locker deprived James Cameron's Avatar of the Oscar. Why can't we have impressive visual effects AND a decent story that I haven't seen before?

  • Hugh Akston||

    Kathryn Bigelow earned her place in Galt's Gulch if only for this reason.

  • RoboCain||

    I wanted to see a Cameron film where space marines fought aliens.

  • db||

    This couldn't have anything to do with the mind-numbing effects of employment as a British Public Servant, could it?

  • RoboCain||

    Is Tim actually a doctor or just a Star Trek fan?

    And will he do PM links?

  • Doktor Kapitalism||

    Yes? No? Maybe? Just in case:

    U.S. to Expand Rape Definition in Crime Statistics
    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01.....ition.html

    This sounds almost reasonable, except for the "no matter how slight" part. If someone starts, then realizes their partner isn't consenting, and stops, does that still count as rape? As far as I can tell, yes.

  • RoboCain||

    Actually, old news. And the "no matter how slight" has always been part.

    Not that the FBI definition has anything to do with state laws. But there was a case where someone was convicted of rape for not stopping 5 seconds after the supposed victim changed her mind.

    Imho, the dangerous part is "without the consent of victim".

  • Sevo||

    OK, right to left in the photo:
    LBJ, Reagan, Carter and ?

  • rsi||

    Nixon

  • ||

    "Why Shouldn’t Point Break Auteur Kathryn Bigelow Get the Same Respect as a Journalist?"

    Because this is blatant propaganda promulgated by a marxist piece of shit. She hopped on the obama express so anything that happens to her now is too good. Anytime a marxist opens their mouth they should be slapped. Anytime they try to stand up they should be shot. They are marxists for god's sake. Show them the respect they deserve.

  • ||

    This is fine as far as it goes. But why should Bigelow be the only person to get this access? I have as much right to the knowledge as she does, and I don't need her to filter it for me in a propaganda film.

  • Not an Economist||

    One thing I remember about Hurt Locker is the producers got the cooperation of the military by showing them one script and then shot another showing soldiers doing things they wouldn't do in real life without consequences. And that was the producers intention all the time.

    I also remember the release of the Bin Laden film was moved up from the original date to be before the election.

    I seem to remember hearing that the filmakers had access members of Congress (in the appropriate committees) did not have. That would of course piss off members of Congress.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Perhaps Obama is treating Kathryn Bigelow like a favored journalist who gets the benefit of extensive leaks in the hope that she'll spin the story the way the leakers want.

    That's certainly not unheard of, only this time it's with a filmmaker rather than a standard-issue journalist.

    Sort of like the government outsourcing its propaganda.

  • ||

    haha yeah....sorta like....

  • PR||

    So a chick directed Point Break? It all makes sense now.

  • ||

    Wasn't it Peter King who wanted all Congressmen to be declared autonomous gun free zones?

    Holy shit, I hate that guy.

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