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Teen Critic: ‘Zero Dark Thirty’

Above: Jessica Chastain as CIA agent Maya in "Zero Dark Thirty."

"Zero Dark Thirty" (currently playing throughout San Diego) has been stirring controversy. It also sparked the interest of my new Teen (okay pre-teen to be honest) Critic Robert Mackey. Mackey represents the next generation of filmgoers and that's why I want to allow him a chance to share his opinions. Here's his review.

Coming into the film I wasn’t sure what to make of "Zero Dark Thirty." Would it be an action film, using dramatic license throughout, or would it take a more journalistic approach, documenting the events up to and the assassination of Osama Bin Laden. I felt that the director, Kathryn Bigelow, did both, and did them in stellar fashion.

The movie is about a female CIA operative known as Maya (the director says that she is based off of several real-world CIA operatives) and her mission to find Osama Bin Laden. Along the way several of her fellow CIA officers are murdered, and the director does a good job of showing how this affects her character.

I felt that the film stayed true to the story and not only was I entertained and interested the whole way through, I also felt like I learned more about the manhunt. Another thing the film did well was it did a great job of spanning 10 years, and you can see the changes the world and the main character go through.

I have always been a fan of war and action movies, my favorite being "Saving Private Ryan," so violence is not a problem for me. But, for anyone who is squeamish at all, I feel compelled to give out a warning, the beginning of the film is focused on torture and there are some depictions of torture that are difficult to watch. Other than that, later in the film the only violence is the expected level of action violence, explosions, gunshots, and so on.

One critique I do have for the film is that an older CIA officer named Jessica and working with Maya doesn’t have a defined role. Throughout the film I had no idea if she was a friend, mother, sister, or had some other connection to Maya, other than that Jennifer Ehle does a great job as a supporting actress in the film playing Jessica but the unclarity bugged me throughout the entire film.

Another thing the film did great was keep up the suspense, and it doesn’t slow down at all. It was 0 to 60 for the entire two-and-a-half hours, and I thought that was one of the best characteristics of the movie. But another critique I had was that, although the main character, Maya, has a very defined character and role in the movie, I felt she didn’t have enough backstory. I knew nothing about her personally. Plus, she always felt like a stereotype to me -- a CIA officer recruited right out of high school, she’s done nothing but chase Osama Bin Laden, if she had more of a backstory, I think she would feel like less of a stereotype, and if she was less of a stereotype, I feel she wouldn’t need as much backstory because not being a stereotype would make her more interesting.

So, as my final verdict, I will say "Zero Dark Thirty" (rated R for strong violence including brutal disturbing images, and for language) is a must see for absolutely anyone. The only thing that should keep anyone from seeing this film would be if you felt you couldn’t handle the torture scenes. Whether you want to know more about the, until now, foggy events of this famous manhunt, or are just looking for a good spy drama/thriller, this is an amazing film.

Robert Mackey is a 12-year-old Teen Critic (okay pre-teen) for the KPBS blog Cinema Junkie. He loves media, specifically film and videogames, and hopes to work in the entertainment industry in the future.

Comments

Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | January 9, 2013 at 8:29 p.m. ― 1 year, 6 months ago

"Taking time out from my Zombie Apocalypse video game, I went to see this new cool movie! It was the bomb and there were a lot of bombs and f-bombs too! It was about the CIA's hunt for that sand-____ Al K. Duh. Now this dude's the world's number one terrorist and he's tall enough to be in the NBA!

Now we're in this ___hole named Baluchistan or Pakistan or Afghanistan or something stan and our boys are working night and day to find the bad guys. It's hot and windy and there are a bunch of mountains where he could be hiding.

Now the people there, they live in caves and don't like us and don't speak English, so it's kinda hard to find out where he is. But in the end, the dude starts slipping and with our satellites, we discover his hideout and our Seals go in, guns a blazing! Shooting everyone in sight! I love watching blood spurt and bodies blown to pieces! It's the most fun I've had since . . . Harry Potter XIV! And those torture scenes--they were not as real as the ones on YouTube but so what? It's a movie! I give it five popcorns. Can't wait for the video game!"

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Avatar for user 'Beth Accomando'

Beth Accomando, KPBS Staff | January 10, 2013 at 7:21 a.m. ― 1 year, 6 months ago

It appears my teen critic takes things more serious than you and writes better as well. But then that's why he's getting to post reviews here. Thanks for your comments. I'm sorry you don't take an interest in what the younger generation thinks.

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Avatar for user 'Miguel Rodriguez'

Miguel Rodriguez | January 10, 2013 at 7:44 a.m. ― 1 year, 6 months ago

Robert Mackey, I applaud the insight and attention you gave to Zero Dark Thirty. I have yet to see this film, so I can't comment on it or your reactions to it, but I am impressed with how well you can express your reactions. Are you sure you're only 12 years old?

Keep writing and thinking about film, and I think you have a great future as a film critic--or perhaps even a filmmaker! Well done!

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Avatar for user 'lolo'

lolo | January 10, 2013 at 7:44 a.m. ― 1 year, 6 months ago

Really nicely done, Robert. I appreciate the honest and balanced and thoughtful insights you had about this film. You're more articulate than many adults I encounter in the world!

I'm still on the fence about this film and if I'll ever see it, but I've enjoyed your reasoned and well-expressed reaction, and the fact that you had the courage to share it. Also, kudos to you for wanting more backstory and character development and depth in action films. I hope you keep that and continue to articulate it. Storytelling always feels better to me when I know the characters.

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Avatar for user 'Spazweez'

Spazweez | January 10, 2013 at 8:08 a.m. ― 1 year, 6 months ago

Interesting thoughts, Robert. I was initially surprised to find a 12-year-old reviewing a film this intense, but after reading your piece, it's clear you've got the maturity to handle such material. I shared the same concerns about the weak characterizations, but to a degree where it made it hard to thoroughly enjoy the story. So, ultimately, you ended up liking the film more than I did. But while we may differ on the final verdict, I found your analysis to be insightful and articulate. Hope to see more of your opinions in the future!

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Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | January 10, 2013 at 11:47 a.m. ― 1 year, 6 months ago

Mission sure got a rare whipping from Beth! Wow.

The review by Robert Mackey saddens me. It is a glimpse into the militarization of American youth. He's only 12, yet has already been desensitized to combat, violence, and even torture. In his own words:

"I have always been a fan of war and action movies, my favorite being "Saving Private Ryan," so violence is not a problem for me."

That is quite a troubling statement and clear indication that many children have lost their sense of humanity before they even know what it is. I wonder what his parents think about this.

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Avatar for user 'Beth Accomando'

Beth Accomando, KPBS Staff | January 10, 2013 at 12:28 p.m. ― 1 year, 6 months ago

I will ask Robert to personally address your questions but I think you are reading far too much into his comment. Being able to watch fictional violence in a film (and he is clearly aware that this is a fictional representation of real violence) is not the same as being okay with real violence. I have spoken at length with Robert and he is a thoughtful adolescent. One of the things he wants to write about is The Walking Dead video game where players have to make moral choices as they try to survive the zombie apocalypse. I think the more he writes, the better he will get at conveying his opinions and revealing what kind of person he truly is. I think it's great that a 12 year old is interested in a 2 hour plus drama and is willing to deliver a well-written review.

Thanks to everyone who has shared comments on the review.

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Avatar for user 'Gabriela'

Gabriela | January 10, 2013 at 12:39 p.m. ― 1 year, 6 months ago

California Defender, I feel certain the articulate and thoughtful, Robert Mackey, can tell the difference between real violence and violence depicted on the screen, even if you cannot.

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Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | January 10, 2013 at 1:22 p.m. ― 1 year, 6 months ago

Beth and Gabriela,

I'm not saying he doesn't know the difference between fictionalized and real violence. He is clearly an intelligent and articulate 12-year-old who does.

What I am suggesting is that American youth are desensitized to it. Thus, it makes the decision to commit real life violence later in life (presumably in a military context) easier and more natural.

I'm surprised that you both are not the least bit concerned about a pre-teen saying "violence is not a problem for me."

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Avatar for user 'zendini'

zendini | January 10, 2013 at 1:38 p.m. ― 1 year, 6 months ago

Great job Robert!! I've been looking to seeing this film for some time now and your review has me even more excited to see it. It sounds like a Saturday afternoon movie to avoid all the violence right before bed.

If I didn't know that this review was written by a 12 year old I would have totally believed that it was written by a seasoned professional critic. Congratualtions on a job very well done!!!

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Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | January 10, 2013 at 1:40 p.m. ― 1 year, 6 months ago

CD, understanding violence is part of being a complete human. I don't believe children are the unsophisticated innocents many seem to prefer to imagine they are. To put the question the other way around, how much of a problem would you prefer our reviewer have in understanding violence?

On topic,
Some of the best writing I've seen from a 12 year old. Good job Mr. Mackey. Would you care to share any opinions on the new releases from the CES?

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Avatar for user 'Beth Accomando'

Beth Accomando, KPBS Staff | January 10, 2013 at 2:07 p.m. ― 1 year, 6 months ago

CaliforniaDefender, as I mentioned earlier I am not concerned for two reasons. One, I have spoken with Robert and do not think he is desensitized to violence just because he is able to watch movies or play games that contain violence. And, two because the context of his comment. He is trying to warn viewers about what might put them off from the film. He is a young writer and I am encouraging him to explain more about his feelings and reactions, and perhaps this is an instance where he can learn to express his feelings more fully and clearly, and this is an especially controversial film that he chose as his first assignment. But again, as a first effort by a 12 year old, I think he has done a fine job.

Thanks again for the comments.

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Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | January 10, 2013 at 2:51 p.m. ― 1 year, 6 months ago

Benz,

I'm faulting the parents not the child, even if this 12-year-old is more mature than his peers. This movie is rated R so to see it, he had to be accompanied by his willing parents. I wonder if they had a discussion about the use of torture, political assassinations or the history of Osama Bin Laden. Or is he too young for that?

I also disagree that violence is part of being a "complete human" as you put it. It is a primitive impulse that should be suppressed by modern humans, not glorified. Then again, perhaps the distance between the stone age and today isn't that great.

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Avatar for user 'Miguel Rodriguez'

Miguel Rodriguez | January 10, 2013 at 2:54 p.m. ― 1 year, 6 months ago

The idea that kids as a whole have lost a sense of humanity or are desensitized to real life violence is a very common fallacy that continues to be perpetuated. I have worked with young people in a variety of settings, but particularly in inner city Baltimore, for several years. I think kids are far more thoughtful and empathetic than we give them credit for a lot of the time, even though they are exposed to quite a lot of violence in the media, in games, and in other ways.

I am not concerned in the least for Robert Mackey. He is clearly a thoughtful and intelligent person. To hold him as an example of some imagined social pathology is a bit insulting to him. I think he could have been clearer in his "violence is not a problem for me" comment, which was clearly meant to clarify that he could handle depicted violence on film. As was stated before, he was using that comment to warn others as to the film's content, which in itself shows a consideration of others that is to be commended.

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Avatar for user 'JeanMarc'

JeanMarc | January 10, 2013 at 3:11 p.m. ― 1 year, 6 months ago

Nice review bud. Don't pay attention to people like missionaccomplished. Some people just like to be jerks! I don't understand them either. Good job. I can't wait to see this movie.

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Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | January 10, 2013 at 3:18 p.m. ― 1 year, 6 months ago

Beth,

Robert has done a fine job with the technical aspect of the movie review and I congratulate him on that.

But I think examining the wider impact of violent movies on society and the glorification of war, especially considering the age of the reviewer, is a valid discussion topic.

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Avatar for user 'Gabriela'

Gabriela | January 10, 2013 at 3:23 p.m. ― 1 year, 6 months ago

California Defender, Robert clearly means that he is not squeamish, as some viewers might be, when it comes to watching violence in films, not that he is unfazed by actual violence. It's just a caveat for the viewer, something that good critics do all the time! And since he is critiquing a film, I would think that distinction would be obvious to anyone not looking to scapegoat a bright young man. Grow up, you sanctimonious nitpicker!

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Avatar for user 'JeanMarc'

JeanMarc | January 10, 2013 at 3:51 p.m. ― 1 year, 6 months ago

Hah! I am sorry, but that last phrase made me laugh.

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Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | January 11, 2013 at 6:47 a.m. ― 1 year, 6 months ago

CD, I said "understanding violence". For some, that will mean participation, but not all or even most. Being able to cope with the unpleasant things in life is important.
To a large extent we do suppress violence. There are very few times when it is appropriate and I expect the movie explores some of those questionable scenarios, though I have not seen it. Having the mental toughness to process that information in a mature way is not a bad thing.

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Avatar for user 'scalawag'

scalawag | January 11, 2013 at 11:34 a.m. ― 1 year, 6 months ago

Hi, Robert--

Nice review and congratulations on getting your first critical gig! I think your distinction between the character as written and the performance of the character is interesting. Too often it's easy to blame an actor for a poorly written character (or poor direction in performing that character). It's nice to see recognition of an actor's fine work with negligible material. So thanks for giving me something to ponder.

I hope to see more reviews from you and I applaud both KPBS and Beth for seeking out new and different perspectives on film.

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Avatar for user 'ACamus'

ACamus | January 12, 2013 at 10:21 a.m. ― 1 year, 6 months ago


Most interesting, this discussion. I think what California is getting at is the moral dimension that the film opens up. I haven't seen Zero; don't intend to. Does that disqualify my opinion? I've read several reviews and actual criticism of the film; does that qualify an opening re the moral dimension? One can expect a 12 year old, no matter how talented a writer, to miss the excellent propaganda value of this film. Missing this, people can think in terms of on-screen violence vs real violence or the dramatic, story angles, as if this were just another action picture of good guys vs bad. The film would appear to make it very clear who the good guys are. If you look closely, though, the good v bad story begins to unravel. Let the questioning begin with the fact that Osama bin Laden was a creation of the CIA. We live in interesting times that require good people to be aware of a moral center and to be alert to those messages that tell us that it is hunky-dory, in some circumstances, to act in or condone immoral actions for a 'greater good.' Choosing to ignore this moral dimension, or the inability to recognize it (“Being able to cope with the unpleasant things in life is important” - lol) in the current political climate is just what the 'good' guys rely on.

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Avatar for user 'The0ne'

The0ne | January 12, 2013 at 10:32 p.m. ― 1 year, 6 months ago

Can I expect 10 more reviews from this movie? Please? Maybe one from a grandma or grandpa. Heading back to watching Dredd again.

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Avatar for user 'Beth Accomando'

Beth Accomando, KPBS Staff | January 13, 2013 at 6:22 p.m. ― 1 year, 6 months ago

Well Dredd made my list of year end films for most underappreciated.

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | January 13, 2013 at 6:52 p.m. ― 1 year, 6 months ago

I thought it would be obvious: (lol)

par·o·dy
/ˈparədē/
Noun
An imitation of the style of a particular writer, artist, or genre with deliberate exaggeration for comic effect.
Verb
Produce a humorously exaggerated imitation of (a writer, artist, or genre).
Synonyms
noun. travesty - skit - burlesque - spoof - mockery - send-up
verb. travesty - mimic - burlesque - mock

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | January 13, 2013 at 7:03 p.m. ― 1 year, 6 months ago

A University of San Diego professor argues that modern-day coercive interrogation techniques used on terrorists are as morally wrong as pre-Civil War slavery, and he even goes so far as to link purported U.S. support of torture with leading to the 9/11 terrorist attacks and war in Iraq.
Thomas Reifer, an associate professor of sociology and ethnic studies at the University of San Diego, a private, Catholic institution, made the comments in a guest column published today in the UT San Diego. The column aimed to condemn the movie “Zero Dark Thirty,” nominated for five Academy Awards.
Reifer did not use the phrase “coercive interrogation techniques” in his column. He used the word “torture.” But they are essentially referring to the same thing: water boarding, physical abuse and sleep deprivation. The movie “Zero Dark Thirty” offers an exaggerated version of these techniques to illustrate an aspect of a larger effort in the decade-long hunt for Osama Bin Laden.
As for Reifer, he starts his column by quoting Abraham Lincoln’s words that “if slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong.” Ultimately, Reifer argues the same, noting: “If torture is not wrong, nothing is wrong.”
His column states:
In the Civil War, the U.S. was forced to recognize … the war’s ultimate cause: the great evil and moral catastrophe that was slavery. Similar questions confront Americans today, namely whether we will recognize the great evil and moral catastrophe of the U.S. embrace of torture, especially after 9/11.
… The costs of U.S. support of torture, for this country, the world, and for the victims and survivors of U.S. programs of torture and cooperation with torturers, have been immense. U.S. support for torture in Mubarak’s Egypt arguably played a major role in forming the Egyptian contingent in al-Qaeda, arguably helping lead to 9/11. U.S. programs of torture thereafter led to false confessions linking Iraq, al-Qaeda, and weapons of mass destruction that helped the Bush administration convince the U.S. Congress and American people to invade and occupy Iraq in 2003 at a cost of anywhere from over 100,000 to over 1 million Iraqi lives; not to mention the shedding of blood of U.S. soldiers and trillions of dollars from the U.S. Treasury.
… If the film “Zero Dark Thirty’s” mainstreaming of torture is uncontested; if it wins an Academy Award for best picture, this will represent the final triumph of a liberal culture of torture in the U.S. And if that happens, no Americans will be able to look in the mirror, without recognizing, in the words of Mark Danner, that now, more than ever before, ‘We are all torturers now.’
The College Fix, Jan 11 (My italics)

Bring it on, people, bring it on!

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | January 13, 2013 at 7:07 p.m. ― 1 year, 6 months ago

Monsieur Camus says: "Most interesting, this discussion. I think what California is getting at is the moral dimension that the film opens up. I haven't seen Zero; don't intend to. Does that disqualify my opinion?"

Some minds here think so.

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Avatar for user 'Beth Accomando'

Beth Accomando, KPBS Staff | January 14, 2013 at 10:56 a.m. ― 1 year, 6 months ago

Missionaccomplished-please inform me when you master the art of parody or when you take on someone older than 12 years old.

And if people choose to judge a film without seeing it, then yes I will take your comments regarding the film less seriously. That's like basing a verdict on hearsay or like the telephone game where the original message gets changed by others along the way. Art is all about interpretation and if you base your opinion on someone else's interpretation it is unfair to the source material. Would you want someone to judge you based on someone else's possibly biased interpretation of something you said? I don't think so.

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | January 14, 2013 at 7:38 p.m. ― 1 year, 6 months ago

LOL Beth. Let's see, he's related to who there at KPBS? But seriously, I am not grading the review nor denying his right to speak on a controversial topic despite his age. My problem with any twelve year old "guest reviewer" is the fact the he simply has not walked the earth long enough, let alone seen enough films, to evaluate this particular one, in the context of other films, other films by the same director, other films in the genre, etc. That is, of course, unless you only intended it as a fluff piece. If the only film reference he can make is SAVING PRIVATE RYAN (which he watched on the small screen no less) because the CGI violence was "cool," then, Beth, we have a problem.

I grew up reading short stories by Bradbury, Serling, Derleth, Matheson and others. I was not bottle-fed video games nor CGI-laden movies. I watched TZ reruns religiously and movies like PSYCHO and 2001 which blew me away and THE INNOCENTS which scared the hell out of me. Reruns of Britain's THE PRISONER both puzzled and fascinated me. I watched my first silent film at 15. (Do you honestly think ANY teen would have such an attention-span today?) That was my formation. At 14, I developed a greater interest for film that was only to increase as I got older..

You are partially correct, though, you would need to watch a movie in order to review it, but not necessarily to comment on it.

Take the Chicago's Sun-Times critic, Laura Washington. She admits that she was NOT going to see Tarantino's DJANGO UNCHAINED. But then she comprised after Spike Lee criticized the film, (w/o having seen it), and went ahead to see it, claiming she was enraged by Lee because that is one of her "pet peeves." Of course, she goes into the dark theater, already prejudiced against the movie, and finally writes:
"Yet the movie also celebrated a brand of violence that still dominates our culture today. It glorified relentlessly vicious, redundant and robotic portrayals of gun violence.

“Django Unchained” is a shameless commentary on how accepting, even embracing, we have become of murderous violence that masquerades as “entertainment.”

In other words, Washington was already going to come out against the film, she just needed some self-assurance.

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | January 14, 2013 at 7:38 p.m. ― 1 year, 6 months ago

Spike Lee's criticism is no "less serious" because he refuses to see DJANGO, anymore than Scott Marks" when he did likewise with Van Sant's sacrilegious shot-by-shot colorized remake of PSYCHO! (As I did myself.) Now, if you take me "less serious" for criticizing DARK ZERO THIRTY while refusing to see it, then by the same logic you criticize Lee and Marks. Or what about those Jewish groups, secular and religious, that unfairly labeled Gibson's THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST as "anti-Semitic" WITHOUT having seen it? Did you criticize them as you do me now???

Now, would you read a book by Rush Limbaugh, O'Reilly or Hannity knowing their political views from the radio and/or Faux TV? I think not. Yet whatever criticisms you may have of such books would be valid, because you already possess enough information on those authors to make a sound judgment.

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Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | January 17, 2013 at 3:38 p.m. ― 1 year, 6 months ago

That argument really doesn't hold up. A good critique should include a review of as much of the source material as possible.
Statements like 'X said it, so it must be wrong' lead away from understanding and consensus.
I read and consider your posts, even though I disagree with many of the statements made in them. If I were to state 'Missionaccomplished is an X, Y, Z and therefore doesn't know anything' I would expect most people to think little of me and less of the comment.
Also, famous people behaving poorly doesn't mean we should emulate them.

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Avatar for user 'JojoF'

JojoF | January 17, 2013 at 7:05 p.m. ― 1 year, 6 months ago

I think that Robert Mackey did a great job with his review. I would definitely like to see more work from him. Also, why not just say it like it is? "Violence is not a problem for me" should mean the same thing as "I am more mature for my age and could get past the particularly squeamish parts." I don't understand why you got so worked up over how he said it. I don't think that just because he said that doesn't mean that the children of this generation are all super violent and WANT to kill. It was one sentence, and besides, the whole review was very good, and if you started this arguement over that, then I strongly stand by my opinion that Robert Mackey did a very, very amazing job on the entire thing. Keep up the good work Robert!

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | January 19, 2013 at 5:04 p.m. ― 1 year, 6 months ago

BENZ, my post isn't a "critique" or "review," and I know that politically you are already suspect as to whatever I may write. For you to say that you "consider" my posts is equally suspect on my behalf--especially after reading some of your counterarguments to mine and Ilks and others. Even facts will not sway you.

Show me where in my previous post I write, "X said this so it has to be so"? Would you be happy if I wrote, "Oh, Romney said this and that, so it must be so"??? With you it is NOT the "source material," but whether that "source material" is Right or Left. (And I'm sure you are one of those gun apologists calling conservative Bob Costas a RINO.)

It appears you are unfamiliar with recent public and critic reactions to controversial films like AMERICAN PSYCHO, THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST or INGLORIOUS BASTARDS. I am replying to Beth who writes that ANYTHING I post on DARK ZERO THIRTY is "less serious" because I refuse to see it. I ask her, if she would likewise label as "less serious" those other gentlemen (including a colleague of hers) and groups because they too, have commented on the movie or other movies, while refusing to see them. I am both reminding her of those past reactions, and asking her whether she equally disapproves of them because she writes as if I were the first person on earth to criticize the subject matter and/or theme of a movie with having seen it. She is now silent.

Let me ask you this, Benz, have you read any of Obama's books? Thanks for your substitute rebuttal anyway.

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Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | January 20, 2013 at 7:09 a.m. ― 1 year, 6 months ago

I have not read any of any book written by a president. I also do not post reviews of them.

My statement was that refusing to review material before criticizing it undermines credibility, especially if only the source of the material is considered. I believe you are attempting to say something similar about me in your second paragraph but the focus drifts.

Being famous or a professional critic does not relieve one of the responsibility to review the material one is discussing.

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | January 20, 2013 at 11:28 a.m. ― 1 year, 6 months ago

I'm not reviewing either, Benz. But I am sure you have certainly commented on these and would never "waste" your time in reading one cover-to-cover. Show me where I "review" this movie?

As to your second point, that is halfway true, but not entirely. Example: I will never read Brigitte Gabriel's self-loathing, vile and hateful book WHY THEY HATE US because I have read reader's reviews and I have heard her speak on the radio and watched her on TV. The book isn't going to make any "fresh, original" statements that I haven't already heard from her. I know what it is trying to push, the same way I know what Bigelow (her denials not withstanding) is trying to push.

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | January 20, 2013 at 11:41 a.m. ― 1 year, 6 months ago

JohoF, my problem with the review is not Mackey's writing skills nor that he cannot discuss issues like torture at the young age of twelve. My objection is having this or ANY twelve-year-old, weaned on video games and whose POTEMKIN is SAVING PRIVATE RYAN, casually review for public consumption, such a questionable/controversial /mature film (which is obviously more commercial than anything else) with KPBS intending to have it taken seriously.

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Avatar for user 'Tammy Carpowich'

Tammy Carpowich, KPBS Staff | January 22, 2013 at 5:13 p.m. ― 1 year, 6 months ago

@Mission,

Point taken about the teen critics, and I definitely understand your point of view. I actually am a convert to the idea, so I understand your position more than you might think. When Beth first started these I decided to withhold judgment until it had been going for a while. I'm really glad I let it unfold without intervening because I would have been wrong to stop them.

When I first saw positive comments on the reviews, I wrote them off as friends or family of the critic. But as time went on I saw that it seemed to generate a genuine sense of community. I've also seen some of our harshest and most frequent critics show support for the teens.

One of our goals as a station in general, and our website in particular, is to foster community engagement and dialogue. The teen critics that Beth picks really do this. Just look at this review as an example. It opened up a pretty interesting discussion about whether our youth are desensitized to violence. I don't agree with everything said here, but I have found the conversation fascinating.

I'd also say that there's precedent in having reviews from young people or others in the community. When I had a full subscription to the (then) Union-Tribune several years ago (I'm down to a weekend subscription) I remember they ran short reviews from children and teens. I never confused them with the professional reviews, just as I'm sure the headline "Teen Critic" alerts our website readers that the posts are by young people. I also remember these from my local paper growing up. Our community rallied behind a young boy in my elementary school class who was chosen for a similar assignment. It made us all feel like our community was represented.

Of course I'm aware that we don't include all people in all of our stories all the time. That's not a reason we shouldn't do it this way now. If the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, then this is a step in the right direction. Being inclusive of all people is what we strive for. Teens matter. They are our future. I, for one, want to hear what they have to say.

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