Without the movies, Stephen Colbert said on Tuesday, he never would’ve learned that slavery is bad or that Abraham Lincoln was killed by a vampire. So he welcomed the news that there was a Senate investigation coming on the depiction of torture in Kathryn Bigelow’s film Zero Dark Thirty.
“We are long overdue for an investigation into America’s use of torture,” Colbert said, before specifying: “in movies.”
The film suggests that a prisoner gave up information after being waterboarded that led to the capture and killing of Osama bin Laden, a plot point that has been disputed both by officials at the Central Intelligence Agency and by Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Carl Levin (D-MI) and John McCain (R-AZ), who, according to the Los Angeles Times, are seeking answers.
But a criminal investigation into the possible use of torture during the George W. Bush administration yielded no public findings and no charges, which was just fine with the Colbert Report host.
“That’s how it should be,” Colbert said, reminding his fans that, “What you don’t know won’t hurt you. And if you do know, we will hurt you until you tell us what you know.”
But besides scrutiny, the film and Bigelow are attracting accolades; as Colbert pointed out, Bigelow canceled her interview with him Monday, but was able to appear at the New York Film Critics Circle Awards, where she told the crowd, “I thankfully want to say that I’m standing in a room of people who understand that depiction is not endorsement, and if it was, no artist could ever portray inhumane practices. No author could ever write about them, and no filmmaker could ever delve into the knotty subjects of our time.”
Which, Colbert said, was his “erstwhile guest’s” way to close the subject — just not the one anybody was asking about.
“Did the CIA feed Bigelow false information to justify the CIA’s torture program as effective when it was not?” Colbert asked. “That is a knotty subject.”
Watch Colbert’s take on the questions surrounding Zero Dark Thirty, aired Tuesday on Comedy Central, below.