I know that this post is a relatively late reaction to the latest tempest in a teapot created by one of the Hollywood finest. However, after reading a few articles on the subject, I was somewhat dissatisfied by the analysis of the case. Of course, Abe Foxman does what Abe Foxman does best – there was a strong dose of anti-Semitic contest in the interview*, and Foxman’s response was indeed timely and sufficiently strong. As for Stone’s apologies: their sincerity is very doubtful, if you read the linked Fox article carefully.
What made me curious more than the obvious and crude anti-Semitic content were other things Stone slipped into the interview sotto voce. Sotto voce, at least, compared to the big red herring of the anti-Semitic content. Here is a good example of the artful mix of that red herring with promotion of what Stone considers to be a hitherto uncharted part of history:
The famed Hollywood director of such films as Platoon and JFK, also said that while “Hitler was a Frankenstein,” there was also a “Dr Frankenstein.” “German industrialists, the Americans and the British. He had a lot of support,” Stone told the Sunday Times, adding that “Hitler did far more damage to the Russians than the Jewish people, 25 or 30 [million killed].”
Yeah. Indeed… Hitler supported by German industrialists – how more novel could you become? Or how more mealy-mouthed, Stone’s detractors could easily say.
“We’re going to educate our minds and liberalize them and broaden them. We want to move beyond opinions … Go into the funding of the Nazi party. How many American corporations were involved, from GM through IBM. Hitler is just a man who could have easily been assassinated,” Stone said.
I don’t know how easy or difficult it is to sell the “news” of American corporations (shameful indeed) commerce with the Nazis to American viewer of today. Most probably, Stone and his client Showtime know better. After all, Stone is supposed to be a master of re-wrapping old news in his inimitable manner.
It is difficult, however, to follow the logic of Stone’s argument. For the sake of it (the argument) let’s suppose that the Jewish moguls (of which Stone himself, being half-Jewish, is a part, if only with a vague 50% share) make the Holocaust theme dominant. How and why should this interfere with the subject of American/British commerce with Nazi Germany? Fuzzy logic, if the term “logic” is applicable.
But was this interview just a disjointed ranting of a raving lunatic? Hardly. Whatever Stone is, he is not stupid. Even his passion for conspiracy theories, as it was confirmed by the following quote, is being brought into play for a reason.
He describes America’s attitude to Iran as “horrible”. “Iran isn’t necessarily the good guy” – his incongruously dark eyebrows shoot up – “but we don’t know the full story!”
Full story indeed – when the author of JFK says it, we should take it seriously, of course (not). Another good reason for the above quote was that Stone is “artfully” anti-establishment in much of his work. His adoration for Fidel the Beard (Comandante), Comical Hugo (South of the Border) and other similar tyrants may be ascribed to his radical ideology, but I seriously doubt that a character like Stone espouses any specific ideology. All this (maddening as it may be) behavior is part of his general focus.
And his focus is mainly on aggrandizing himself and his (really poor of late, as could be seen here, for example) work. Stone is, most of all, a superb salesman, and I am quite sure that his interview, explosive as it may appear in some quarters, was carefully thought through in advance, no aspect forgotten. To anger the easily angered Jewish community, to piss off the US establishment, to stir the ever-bubbling swamp of the conspiracy theorists, to get real historians seeing red – how much more of a publicity storm could one expect to achieve in one interview with a (relatively minor) outfit like Sunday Times?
Stone is most definitely not a historian, rather a clumsy abuser of history. The mere decision of Showtime to order a purportedly documentary opus from a mockumentary producer like Stone was questionable. After the interview, that decision is much less questionable. The piss taking worked and the Secret History of America will definitely sell now. If not in US, then Europe, eager for any American-bashing work of the kind (and, of course, for anything that will put some gloss on its bloody 20th century history), will lap it up regardless.
So, I beg to disagree with the headline of that Fox article: “Oliver Stone’s Remarks on Jews in Hollywood Show He’s Out of Touch, Execs Say” and with them “Execs”. Mr Stone is very much in touch – with his insatiable greed for fame, publicity and the $$ bottom line of thereof. He has done a creditable Gibson on his latest opus, if you ask me, and could be well satisfied with the outcome. Good job indeed.
Now, if you ask me whether Stone is a dreck, successful as he is in his many endeavors, my personal answer will be… guess.
(*) Unfortunately, the Sunday Times’ Poundwall prevented me from reading the whole interview, so, like many others, I have to depend on quotes from other sources – not that the quotes leave a lot to imagination.
Cross-posted on SimplyJews