Hollywood’s Leading Lady Kathryn Bigelow has had an impressive few years. She became the first woman in Oscar history to win the Best Director award in 2010 for her film The Hurt Locker (2008). This feat was made even sweeter given the fact that she beat out the favored-to-win Avatar (2009), which was produced, directed, and written by her ex-husband, James Cameron (whose current wife at times looks a bit like one of his CGI-creatures, I should add). Then, Bigelow embarked on the filmmaking opportunity of a lifetime: creating a film focused on the Navy SEAL’s mission to find, capture, and kill Osama Bin Laden. Along with screenwriter Mark Boal (who also won an Oscar for Original Screenplay for The Hurt Locker), Bigelow has been developing the film since 2008.
However, after the heroic efforts by SEAL Team 6 resulted in the killing of Bin Laden on May 2nd, 2011, Bigelow and her (still) untitled production have come under fire by the House Homeland Security Committee, chaired by Peter King (R-NY). King recently called for an investigation into what he claims to be unprecedented access and continuing leaks of sensitive military operational information to Bigelow and her filmmaking team.
In his August 9th, 2011 letter to Defense Department Inspector General Gordon Heddell and CIA Inspector General David Buckley, King rebuked the Obama Administration and vented that the “Administration’s first duty in declassifying material is to provide full reporting to Congress and the American people in an effort to build public trust through transparency of government. In contrast, this alleged collaboration belies a desire of transparency in favor of a cinematographic view of history.” The White House denies these allegations of wrongdoing.
This is not the first time that a Hollywood film has taken legal heat of this sort. I am reminded of the infamous legal controversy surrounding the making of Alpha Dog (2006) and California Deputy DA Ron Zonen, who was taken off the case by a 2nd appellate district of California court ruling, which cited his multiple consultations with the filmmakers that often manifested in the sharing of confidential case files on the kidnapping and murder of Nicholas Markowitz in his personal attempt to raise publicity about the case in order to catch then-fugitive Jesse James Hollywood.
Nevertheless, the distinguishing characteristic in the present Hollywood-D.C showdown is, of course, its feuding political undertones. The film has a slotted release of October 12, 2012 and has been the subject of Republican criticism due to its supposedly purposeful proximity to the 2012 Presidential Elections as an alleged propaganda attempt to sway swing-voters towards voting for Obama. Whether or not Sony Pictures (the distributor of the film) is guilty of taking advantage of the American public by dazzling them with yet another resplendent movie-magic production in an effort to accrue Democratic votes, the more important question deals with King’s concerns. Did the White House compromise America’s national security interests in exchange for an enhanced cinematic portrayal of the covert SEAL Team 6 mission?
I love movies as much—or even more—than the average American, but above everything else our national security must remain the number one priority. It is not clear at this time if King’s request for a Pentagon Investigation will be fulfilled, but I personally have continued faith in Hollywood’s integrity and in the Obama Administration’s discretion in these matters. Perhaps, much like what occurred after the Alpha Dog movie release, this will beneficially contribute to a more wide-spread dissemination of such an important national event. In any case, the most realistic possibility ensuing from the drama is another nomination—and win—for Bigelow at the 2013 Academy Awards.