Remembering the Warriors: Cultural Memory, the Female Hero, and the ‘Logistics of Perception’ in Zero Dark Thirty
Authors: van Raalte, C.
Memories of conflict are shaped by films of conflict. One of the most striking features of Zero Dark Thirty (Kathryn Bigelow 2012) is the use of a female lead in such a consistently ‘masculine’ genre as the war film. Some celebrate Maya as a feminist icon, some as a post-feminist, gender-neutral figure, while others see her as providing ideological camouflage for patriarchal US militarism. The film also articulates the relationship between cinema and war as proposed by Paul Virilio. The intradiegetic use of surveillance technology exemplifies the ‘logistics of perception’ discussed in The Vision Machine, while the appropriation of the ‘reality effect’ of mediated images for the purposes of a Hollywood film speaks to Virilio’s ‘aesthetics of disappearance’. This chapter addresses both perspectives, arguing that there is a close relationship between them and that the gender of the protagonist is much more than an incidental detail within the film, having profound implications for narrative’s structure and dynamics.