Michael Moore stopped by HuffPost Live on Friday to weigh in on the seemingly never-ending debate around "Zero Dark Thirty." Moore penned a HuffPost blog post defending the film against critics, many of whom say it condones and promotes torture.
"I understand why a lot of people on the left ... believe the movie endorses torture," Moore began on HuffPost Live. "But that's not how I saw it, I left the movie thinking it made an incredible statement against torture."
Moore also claimed it's important to move beyond the issue of whether torture "does or does not work." "The film shows the abject brutality [of torture]," Moore said. "It doesn't matter if it works. It's wrong."
"These are works of fiction -- 'Zero Dark Thirty,' '24,'" Moore said. "[The interrogators] torture 100 people. One guy has the information. Everyone who doesn't have the information makes up shit ... so you have 99 people making up information and one tells the truth. How do you know what's the truth?"
"Does the artist have a responsibility for the ignorance of the person watching the art?" Moore asked. "I don't want to have to dumb down my work for the people who won't get it. I want to put it out there and the people who get it, get it."
Host Marc Lamont Hill asked if Moore would feel the same way if he knew that the "dominant majority" of people watching the movie would feel as though the film endorses torture. "I think that throughout history, the dominant majority has been pretty wacky," Moore said. "The dominant majority believed the sun revolved around the Earth."
"Once the Obama administration took over and torture was gone, they had to resort to good police work," Moore said of the "Zero Dark Thirty" character's tactics. In the movie, CIA personnel stop using enhanced interrogation techniques once Obama decrees that there would be no further torture. Matt Zeller, a former CIA intelligence officer and veteran, confirmed that the tone within the agency changed as soon as Obama took office. "[The change in priorities] was like night and day," Zeller said of the emphasis put on finding bin Laden in what Moore described as "a way that will make our country proud."
Moore was joined by HuffPost Media Editor Jack Mirkinson, who took the counterpoint and asked what Moore would say to Lynn Cheney (Dick Cheney's wife, who supports the movie) or Alex Gibney, an Oscar-winning filmmaker who has come out against the film. Moore responded by repeating Bigelow's claim that "depiction is not endorsement" and cited Francis Ford Coppola's "Patton" as an example of a movie that was intended to be a portrait of a mad war-monger but ended up becoming Richard Nixon's favorite film.
One potentially sticky point of Moore's argument centers on his claim that the movie is "a work of fiction," despite the film's opening statement that it was based on real-life events and first-person testimony. Moore admitted that he wishes filmmakers would stop making such claims about their movies.
The news comes amid a full-court press on Bigelow's part. Though "Zero Dark Thirty" received an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture, Bigelow is not nominated for Best Director (she previously won that category for "The Hurt Locker"). It was a snub heard around the film world, and many point to the controversy surrounding the movie as the reason the Academy's voters shied away from Bigelow's name.
"Zero Dark Thirty" traces the efforts of the CIA and focuses heavily on what the George W. Bush administration referred to as "advanced interrogation techniques." There are graphic torture scenes in which characters are water-boarded and otherwise abused. A character who is tortured eventually gives a crucial tip that leads to the capture and killing of bin Laden -- a plot detail that has drawn harsh condemnation from senators and administration officials.
Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal ardently defend the film's veracity while also arguing that it is an apolitical work of art. The latter notion further incensed the film's detractors