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greg dahlen

Alumnus, academy of achievement

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How can I enjoy "Zero Dark Thirty" when I already know the real-life events because I followed them in the news?

I've been seeing trailers for "Zero Dark Thirty," a movie coming out in December that tells the real-life story of the hunt for Osama Bin Laden. Normally, this is the kind of movie that really intrigues me, but the problem is that I've already read a lot about how Osama Bin Laden was searched for and found. Therefore, I already know the events I believe the movie will present. Is there any way I can get some pleasure out of the movie already knowing as I do?

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    Jan 2 2013: Why should anyone surrender in self-defense if this would mean a certain death? And surrender to whom? A bunch of violent intruder? You may forget that the Navy Seals had no legal authority to 'knock' on any door in Pakistan and the whole 'mission' was nothing but a breach of international law.

    What would you think if a Pakistani special force would invade your country? How many of your countryman would defend themselves too, and rightly so? Especially as in your country the right of possessing a weapon for self-defense reason is so important to so many.

    The alternative for this mission would have been a diplomatic approach with Pakistan to set up a long term observation to spot a more suitable and less risky situation to arrest him. Especially on legal issues the end does not justifies the means!

    And about torture, if you would have spend a second thought on your comment, you may come to understand, that 'preferences' are just no option in torture, as well as you will never know what the final outcome will be. Do you think that 'terrorists' are unaware of water-boarding? Do you really think that your idea of 'mild' torture would really scare anyone of those if they knew they are not gonna die or horribly hurt? And we are not talking about 'sissies' here. So there can not be any 'mild' or 'just unpleasant' form of torture! It got to be painful, really painful and life-threatening for torture to work and this in any case!

    I am not conflicted about crime movies, as you already seem to desperately wish for. It is as I told you before, as long as it fictitious, as long as it is 'in the movies' and as long 'instable' people does not get inspired by it and for real life, I have no problems with it. I do not even feel this form of guilt which you described for yourself, as I am capable to separate.
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    Dec 4 2012: Usually there are multiple reported versions of a story and the picture we assemble from these various accounts is only roughly accurate. In a news story the behavior of a variety of participants will be ignored or revised for popular consumption.

    A movie capturing real life events will very likely be a unique assembly of facts which fills in gaps that we have no way of filling with certainty through use of artistic choices by writer, director, and actor.

    Have you sometimes read several accounts of the same time or event in history, some ostensibly non-fiction and perhaps historical fiction versions as well?
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      Dec 19 2012: Appreciate your ideas, not sure if they work for me. A lot of times I'm satisfied with "rough accuracy." You're right, it would fill in the gaps, but possibly I don't need the gaps filled in if I get the main points. I have read differing accounts of events, but usually they were pretty similar in what they had to say, they dovetailed. Why did you ask, Fritz? Are you trying to suggest that different accounts are significantly different? Have you had this experience, where you read accounts of an event that were significantly different? What event? What did you read?

      As a related question, Fritz, do you enjoy watching reruns on TV, or do you know people who do? Why do you, or they, enjoy it?
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    Dec 4 2012: Well, you might seek advise of those who watched Titanic.
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      Dec 19 2012: Thanks, Lejan, I did do this. It's true, we did know the story of the Titanic before we went. It seems the power of the movie is that we get to see individual stories within the larger events. Somehow this still doesn't justify seeing "Zero Dark Thirty" for me. Do you have any more ideas?
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        Dec 19 2012: What about 'The Hobbit' instead? ;o)
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          Dec 22 2012: I don't know, Lejan ., I seem to enjoy the movies about crime. You think it's bad to enjoy movies about crime?
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        Dec 22 2012: It is interesting that you consider the execution of Osama Bin Laden a crime ...
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          Dec 22 2012: Oh, sorry, Lejan ., I believe Osama committed a crime, and the movie is about capturing him so he doesn't commit another. By the way, are you intending to see "Zero Dark"? Why, or why not?

          Thanks for participating in my conversation. If you want to reply, you may have to reply above as we have reached the bottom level of response here.
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    Jan 3 2013: Excellent points, Lejan .. On setting up a less risky course with Pakistan to arrest him, my impression is that the U.S. believed someone in the Pakistani government would tip him off, he would flee and perhaps become hidden again, or some disaster would ensue in the course of him fleeing where innocents might get killed. Killing him right in the house limited the deaths to the terrorist and his close associates.

    If I were a terrorist who had killed thousands of people in Pakistan, and I was hiding in the U.S. and the Pakistani government came after me, I might be understanding.

    I really appreciate your articulating an alternative, however.

    I extremely appreciate your raising issues about torture. On second thought, I now think you may be right, that there are no mild forms of torture. But I believe our U.S. government has claimed that waterboarding was not torture. I will have to look into the basis on which they claimed it. I could possibly see that there is a time imperative, that if you believed terrorists were about who might kill thousands if not stopped quickly, you might torture in order to prevent.

    Sorry, I did not understand your position on crime movies. But doesn't it seem instable people might be inspired by it? What about our "Joker" shooter in Colorado who was inspired by the Batman movies' Joker figure? Or would he have killed anyway?

    Thank you again for your stimulating thoughts. If you wish to comment and this is closed please do so on another conversation I have currently going about whether to make movies about crime, or email me via my profile.
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    Jan 1 2013: Interesting, my count down still indicates 3 days for this conversation to close, so I can take my time in finding all the letters on my keyboard.

    Yes, I do actually dispute the intentional killing of any person and the view exceptions I could agree on, are definitely not applicable in the bin Laden case. Deadly force is only justifiable if no other option has enough time to end a life threatening situation, such as rampage killing or hostage-taking, in which the offender is clearly identifiable. By this, death penalty to me is no option and I disagree with any other opinion.

    States who still dispute torture for a legal option of information gathering today have never got out of the dark ages, the golden era of The Inquisition and the witch hunt. Under torture you get to hear anything you want, and there is no way to distinguish a lie from the truth, yet lies, understandably, are so much more likely and the innocent remains unrecognizable!

    Have you ever tried waterboarding yourself? I once did, with a good friend of mine as 'the torturer' and without any manacles for 'flexibility' and 'safety' reasons, because I wanted to get a slight glance on what this could mean to me. It didn't take long for this glance to settle.

    This 'few tortured, thousands saved' argument is a myth or do you really belief in thousands of confessed witches in Europe some hundred years ago?

    Crime isn't natural, violence is, yet the context in nature is a different one, of which, as a species, we have claimed to have risen beyond it in the form of our civilization. And it is this claim only I am insisting on! There are other creatures who 'prey upon their own', ants, for instance, and this quite violently at times and - surprise, surprise - often in the context of resources and habitats...

    But just by comparing brain-sizes, we should not take them as role-models.

    And why should I ever convince a poor person not to prey on the rich? Especially if this wealth was based on exploitation?
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      Jan 1 2013: Oh, thanks for replying, Lejan .. Yeah, since I'm never sure when I'll go on TED, three days left on a conversation does feel like it's pressing on me. Now there's two days, so I'll answer but it won't be that great.

      My understanding is that the Navy Seals were directed to attempt to capture Mr. bin Laden alive, and to only wreak violence if he first appeared to be responding violently. I understand he did appear, or one of his people, did appear to be pointing a gun at the Seals, thus they fired on him. Thus it doesn't seem he was under a death penalty.

      Otherwise you are raising difficult issues for me where I have no answer. I am conflicted on death penalty, but probably agree with you as it seems innocent people are sometimes executed.

      On torture, I will have to continue thinking and asking. My mother believes waterboarding is torture, but not extreme torture, and isn't sure how she feels about it. When I mentioned the few tortured, thousands saved, what I meant is that if you mildly torture a person who demonstrably has a criminal past and a link to the crime you are investigating, is it valid if you save many innocent lives? And if the person tortured can recover from the mild torture? Clearly there is no such thing as magic, so I'm not going to torture people to find out if they're witches.

      You raise a great point that the information from mild torture could be inaccurate.

      You make a great point, as I understand it, that we should be growing beyond crime. I often feel guilty about my interest in crime movies, which I see a lot of, thinking perhaps I encourage crime by seeing them. I enjoy the cerebral aspect of the movie, what is the thinking of the criminal, what is the thinking of the good guy? By your lights I shouldn't see them, correct? How do I stop?
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        Jan 1 2013: How much fantasy do one need to picture the likelihood that bin Laden was going to defend himself, especially if a troop of armed and black dressed men were storming his house. To name it a 'capture' mission is simply nonsense! And if not the intention, at least the name should sound good ...

        On what you said about 'mild' torture, what ever this is in your understanding, I hope you will reflect this one day, as I am simply running out of words to comment on this any further.

        Your moral conflict on crime movies seems insignificant as long as you are not willing to face it personally and finally and if you read my comments again, my so called 'light' may become visible to you and for your question. And how do you stop if you decide to stop is something only you are able to answer.
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          Jan 2 2013: Well, it's conceivable to me that he would have surrendered. He must have known that he would lose to a "troop of armed and black dressed men." But what was the alternative, Lejan .? Send someone to knock on the door and politely ask him to surrender?

          I would tend to think there are more and less severe forms of torture. Offhand I would prefer to be waterboarded than to have my fingernails pulled out.

          Are you conflicted about crime movies, Lejan .? After all, have we agreed that "The Hobbit" is basically a crime or war movie dressed up as a light fantasy? If you want a lack of crime and, I presume, a lack of war, why are you spending your time watching a depiction of crime, or war?

          Please reply above.
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    Dec 23 2012: So you agree on the concept, that one crime justifies another and that 'believe' is the new 'evidence' in legal proceedings? I don't know Greg, this does not really sounds 'constitutional' to me ...

    I am not going to see this movie, as I am not interested to see an epic Hollywood version of a failed and illegal capture mission.

    'The Shire' is more of my liking which I am going to see, once the first waves of viewers has passed the theaters.
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      Dec 24 2012: Lejan ., you sound kind of bitter here, like you have rather strong feelings. Do you have some special stake in the mission to find bin Laden, are you a politician, activist, or some other occupation that would give you a stronger feeling than most?

      'The Shire' is about hobbits? I wonder if we could make the case that the Lord of the Rings movies are "crime movies," don't they have good guys opposing violent bad guys? Or perhaps you could say they are war movies? But the tone is somewhat light and fantasy?

      I'm a little surprised you like fantasy, you seem like a person who would like realism?
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        Dec 29 2012: You didn't answer my question on what you agree on, or not, in this incident ...

        My 'stake' in this witch-hunt was nothing but an observer and the 'bitterness' you noticed just my natural aversion against any form of 'lynch law', especially those executed by so called 'modern' and 'democratic' societies ...

        Torture and humiliation camps like Guantanamo Bay are triggering the same response in me, by the way ...

        Yes, 'The Shire' is about hobbits and as long as crime stays fictional, I can enjoy it in a movie and have my popcorn with it.

        Schindler's List is also about crime, yet not just a movie. I watched it in the theater at that time. Without popcorn, without soft-drink, just plain me and this lecture on the history of my nation and to take my lessons from it.

        I love fantasy! It is my playground of thoughts and not just limited to books or movies. Do I like epic battle scenes of Orcs against Elves? Yes, big time! As much as I love X-Wings chasing TIE's all over the space ... :o)

        Because I know it is fantasy, only!

        So why should I like the downsides of realism? Isn't our reality nothing but what we make of it? To me it is, yet without necessity to agree on any of it and what 'some' contributed ...

        The fascination of crime is no mystery. We have the whole biochemical package given to us by a hostile and violent environment called nature, in which we happened to evolve and survive as a species... so far. Yet once we learned to walk on two feed and grew the size of our brains, we should stop naming our selfs homo homo sapiens and finally act as such and in reality!

        And as long as this 'fascination for crime' remains, we just enjoy it on the playground of fantasy, and nowhere else, just like a 'sandbox' for a save and constant 'unloading' of 'live ammunition' ...

        And, still not interested in Hobbit's? ;o)
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          Dec 31 2012: Thanks, Lejan .. Well, this won't be a very good answer, but this conversation is pretty close to closing.

          I had certainly thought of the attempted capture and then killing of Mr. bin Laden as a good thing. Do you actually dispute this? That seems hard to believe, the man directed people to kill thousands of unsuspecting people just going about their daily lives. To my mind, an evil person.

          It is still disputed as to whether the States used torture to get info from detainees. I believe I will start asking the people in my daily life their opinion and/or knowledge of whether torture was used. Let's just say torture was used, that a few people were tortured but thousands of lives were saved. Would you then accept torture?

          I really enjoyed your thoughts on fantasy/reality. For me, even when I watch a more "realistic" movie, my thoughts can roam, can play. After all, I'm not doing the work, I'm just sitting in a comfortable chair watching.

          Perhaps crime is "natural." I suppose there are creatures in nature that prey upon their own. Seems like you're right, we should stop doing this, we should practice empathy, are you talking about practicing empathy? And how do you convince a poor person not to prey upon a rich person when they see how much a rich person has?

          Just can't get interested in hobbits, although I did see the first "Lord of the Rings" movie. For one thing, aren't those elves that I see in the print ads rather ugly? And isn't there magic, I dislike magic in any story. Possibly I like the more realistic stuff because I can imagine myself doing what I see on the screen, even though a lot of it is very extreme. Can you identify with anyone in a hobbit movie?

          If you want to reply, please reply up at the top of the conversation.
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        Jan 1 2013: Interesting, my count down still indicates 3 days for this conversation to close, so I can take my time in finding all the letters on my keyboard.

        Yes, I do actually dispute the intentional killing of any person and the view exceptions I could agree on, are definitely not applicable in the bin Laden case. Deadly force is only justifiable if no other option has enough time to end a life threatening situation, such as rampage killing or hostage-taking, in which the offender is clearly identifiable. By this, death penalty to me is no option and I disagree with any other opinion.

        States who still dispute torture for a legal option of information gathering today have never got out of the dark ages, the golden era of The Inquisition and the witch hunt. Under torture you get to hear anything you want, and there is no way to distinguish a lie from the truth, yet lies, understandably, are so much more likely and the innocent remains unrecognizable!

        Have you ever tried waterboarding yourself? I once did, with a good friend of mine as 'the torturer' and without any manacles for 'flexibility' and 'safety' reasons, because I wanted to get a slight glance on what this could mean to me. It didn't take long for this glance to settle.

        This 'few tortured, thousands saved' argument is a myth or do you really belief in thousands of confessed witches in Europe some hundred years ago?

        Crime isn't natural, violence is, yet the context in nature is a different one, of which, as a species, we have claimed to have risen beyond it in the form of our civilization. And it is this claim only I am insisting on! There are other creatures who 'prey upon their own', ants, for instance, and this quite violently at times and - surprise, surprise - often in the context of resources and habitats...

        But just by comparing brain-sizes, we should not take them as role-models.

        And why should I ever convince a poor person not to prey on the rich? Especially if this wealth was based on exploitation?
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    Dec 22 2012: Fritz, it's just that Lejan . had suggested I watch the Hobbit instead of Zero Dark, and I was trying to explain why I might prefer Zero Dark.

    Excellent point, that it's a bigger concern when it's all you do. I guess what I'm wondering is, if you watch movies about crime, does it encourage criminals? Some people think criminals want attention for their crimes, that that's part of why they commit them, and consuming movies about crime might be giving them that attention. Want to give your opinion?

    Fritz, from what I know, when you're trying to solve a problem, as my original thread did, it can help to let the conversation roll freely, to introduce the questions that come into your mind as you think about the original question. This is somewhat like Sigmund Freud's method of free-association. Although the questions I'm asking now are different from the original thread, I think they're related, and as we talk about them, I think it will help me solve the original problem. Acceptable?

    By the way, Fritz, are you intending to see "Zero Dark Thirty"? Why, or why not?
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      Dec 22 2012: Hi, Greg. I don't express opinions in areas where I know there is research but I have not had a chance to familiarize myself with it and where I have no expertise of my own.
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        Dec 22 2012: A very reasonable position. Still, having read numerous of your entries, you seem to have intelligence and life-experience. Those count for quite a bit. It seems reasonable for people to make a statement coming from their intelligence and life-experience rather than book-learning, as long as they state that that is where it is coming from.
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          Dec 22 2012: My guess would be that for those who are not otherwise disposed to commit the sorts of crimes featured in crime dramas, what they watch is entirely irrelevant.
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    Dec 19 2012: Almost any reenacted historical event imagines the dialogue that took place. In the case of news reports or historical events, views of what actually happened vary from first report. Sometimes it is like the game telephone in which the story is altered by word of mouth. Sometimes the version told by one side in a conflict is different from that told by the other. And sometimes first reports involve guesses that become fixed in people's minds.

    Yesterday I read a book about the main players in working on the OED. There was a widely reported story in the press at the time that the manager only realized after many years on visiting the major contributer at his residence that he was an inmate at the Broadmoor Asylum for the Criminally Insane. It made a good story and was widely relayed but was actually a romanticized version. The manager had been told by someone years earlier.

    I cannot speak to television reruns, but there are songs I am happy to listen to over and over. I like the music and the song may recall memories of memorable times. there are also books I have read multiple times years apart because I remembered their power but otherwise only the roughest outline. Examples are Hesse's Magister Ludi and Durrell's The Alexandra Quartet.
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      Dec 22 2012: Fritz, what do you think? You think it's bad to enjoy movies about crime? I have heard several times that the most popular section at the library is the true crime section.
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        Dec 22 2012: What you ask seems a different topic than the one you posed in the thread.

        I think with most of what you read or watch, the context is important. I like reading some mysteries and watching some in which a sleuth solves the case of a murder. I see no harm in this.

        If a kid engaged only with such story lines, I would be more concerned, potentially, though, for example, Hans Christian Anderson and the Brothers Grimm, Greek myths and so forth have their own aspects of plot that might be considered crimes in another context.
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          Dec 22 2012: Fritz, I neglected to press the "reply" tab on your comment here, but I have replied above.