When the best man for the job is a woman, just sit back and enjoy the show.
Kathryn Bigelow, in following up her 2008 film, The Hurt Locker, creates a film in Zero Dark Thirty that speaks as much about the killing of Bin Laden as it does about Bigelow’s place in the movie industry.
One of the main points articulated in ZD30 is that the act of shooting Bin Laden was only a small part of the many things that needed to happen for the United States government to achieve its aim in killing one of the world’s renown terrorist leaders: directives needed to be issued, intel had to be acquired, helicopters needed piloting, and Seal Team Six needed to eliminate the prime target. Against the backdrop of combat, intelligence played an important role in Bigelow’s ZD30.
The role of intelligence funnels through the character Maya, renamed from her real-life counterpart in order to protect the identity of the mission’s most important member, a young, female CIA officer. Maya represents the proto-protagonist of our age, the un-othered, rational female. Maya’s foil, another handsome, yet less rational version of herself, dies from eschewing protocol for gut-level trust. In killing Maya’s foil off, Bigelow presents a straight-and-narrow path for a woman of authority: the unothered, rational female must strictly adhere to the rules of the game in order to compete successfully in the world of men. In presenting Maya as a successful player, Bigelow also presents herself, a woman competing successfully in a male arena.
Although the 60 Minutes interview with Mark Owen obviates the need trip to the local cineplex, the additional medium of the Bin Laden assassination corroborates with ZD30 in portraying the female CIA agent, as an important and remarkable aspect of the mission’s success. What’s even more remarkable is that ZD30 and the Owen interview each seek to portray the agent’s gender as unremarkable. With No Easy Day and The Hurt Locker under her belt, future success for Bigelow will be increasingly unremarkable. When the best man for the job is a woman, just sit back and enjoy the show.