Peace & Justice Center Responds to "Zero Dark Thirty"
Cinema West Theaters Petaluma
Reading Cinemas, Rohnert Park Stadium
Santa Rosa Entertainment Group
Dear Sonoma County Movie Theater Owners,
Recently, the national discussion has again turned to gun control and the issue of excess violence in our culture, along with increased, untreated mental illness. Sadly, the ‘entertainment’ industries continue to feed American consumers a steady diet of ‘violent action thrillers’ – games, films, books – filled with brutality for young and old audiences alike. This type of entertainment does not model or encourage well-adjusted social behavior such as compassion, kindness or understanding. Instead, it feeds an already unhealthy trend in our society that emphasizes aggressive behavior in our families, our relationships and our community.
We are writing this letter on the official celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King’s birth. The nation celebrates his example of using love and nonviolent direct action to address the injustices of the time. We honor his memory and that of others who have worked to remind humanity that only through love and caring will we have the chance for a truly peaceful world.
We are writing to you today to express our deep concern about the showing of the new film now at your theater, Zero Dark Thirty. This film presents viewers with a ‘fictionalized’ story depicting many graphic scenes of the horror and brutality of US government sanctioned torture and assassination. We are deeply concerned that these images strengthen the mass psychology that otherwise immoral and deplorable behavior is acceptable in the face of perceived threats to national or personal security.
Some argue that the film does not endorse torture, but it is undeniable that its extreme content – along with hundreds of similar films – desensitizes our minds and normalizes these brutal acts. Our moral fabric is being torn apart, and with it, a notable lack of life-nourishing experiences. Today’s field of entertainment offers little of humankind’s positive aspects and the need to care for our beautiful world, but there is no reason that it couldn’t.
Local audiences expect entertainment when they enter your theaters. You have the option to provide substantive, insightful, and compassionate work or brutal, sadistic and hostile imagery. As our nation continues to export violence through the sale of weapons and military aggression around the globe, we implore you to consider your role in presenting more films that provide societal uplift rather than degradation. You have an important role and responsibility in our community and we look to you for your leadership.
The Peace & Justice Center of Sonoma County
Vets for Peace, Chapter 71, Sonoma County
Praxis Peace Institute
CA 2nd Congressional District of The Peace Alliance/ Dept. of Peacebuilding Campaign