“#The Zero Dark Thirty Controversy, Explained”
During the length of the conflict, however, one might have noticed more and more images of torture leaking into popular entertainment, to the point where it was almost normalized. Hit shows like “24” (which debuted in November of 2001) regularly argued that torture was a swift and efficient way to obtain information. In 2004, the torture pictures from Abu Ghraib were released to the public, and it’s a timely coincidence that the “Saw” film series began only a few months later. The bulk of the 2000s was inundated with a new horror genre, nicknamed torture porn, and images and conversations about the manner and ubiquity of torture proliferated through our cynical, tired-out minds, leaving a sticky residue of outrage and resentment.
This normalization of torture images was tolerated for two reasons: One, seeing in a horror context it helped to remind us that we, as a nation, were involved in something shocking and that it shouldn’t become easy-to-consume action movie fodder. And two, many Americans felt this was the Only Way to get what we needed. It was sold as a dark necessity, and popular entertainments were serving as an apology for the nation’s latest sine qua non.
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