Oliver Stone might end up being remembered as one of the last left-wing proponents of Great Man History. For much of the past century, leftish historiography and historical fiction has noticeably tended towards, 1) the tedious deconstruction of “colonial” and “hegemonic” (read: dead, white, and male) discourse and 2) “social,” “bottom-up,” “democratic” history about the working class or various subaltern ethnicities forging their own destinies.
Stone has bravely stood athwart this trend, presenting historical dramas in which the personalities, anxieties, family histories, and personal philosophies of political leaders inform their shaping of the world. (“The people” are spectators, if they appear in his films at all.)
In most of his big films, Stone has focused on history’s great villains from the left-wing perspective (his latest one, South of the Border, in which Stone appears smitten with Hugo Chavez and Evo Morales, stands as an exception). Nixon, Bush, Gordon Gekko (the 1980s tycoon and Reaganaut), and Tony D’Amato (a stand-in for Bill Parchells and other authoritarians of the grid iron) -- all his great characters are modern right-wing archetypes. (Evita, whose screenplay Stone co-wrote, is ambiguous in this regard, as the Perons combined fascist elements with the Latin American-style left-wing populism Stone so admires. Alexander wasn’t Left or Right, of course, but allowed Stone to indulge in Great-Man-ness none the less.) It perhaps reveals something that in JFK, John F. Kennedy Jr. hardly appears; Stone seems only interested in probing the psyche of conservatives.
The other remarkable thing about Stone is that his films, which are ostensibly hit jobs against the enemies of social progress, evince the director’s sympathy for their protagonist-villains. This was most obvious in Nixon, but surfaced as well in W. Here, Bush the Younger is depicted as uncouth, to be sure, but also as a naïve -- well-intentioned even -- dupe of Cheney and the neocons. Stone might have set out to make Wall Street a morality tale, with Gordon Gekko as a slimy, amoral financial hyena, but in the end, he gave Gekko the most promethean and compelling (if ultimately objectionable) worldview in the film. “Greed” doesn’t, in Gekko’s mind, just make you rich but generates great art and civilization.
When I first heard about Stone’s recent scandal about the Holocaust, the Israel Lobby, and putting Hitler “into context,” I thought that this meant that Stone was going to soon film a Hitler biopic, which sounded like a rather interesting prospect. Oliver Hirschbiegel’s Downfall (2005) treated Hitler as a human being, though is now mostly remembered for the YouTube parodies it spawned. Stone probably would have depicted Hitler as the profoundly complicated figure -- fiercely loyal but ruthless and monstrous, and politician and who conceived himself as artist.
As it turns out, of course, Stone is actually making a documentary on the Secret history of America, and the hints he drops in the Sunday Times interview indicate that he will be rehashing all the tired left-wing muckraking of the past half century, connecting Hitler’s rise with “German industrialists, the Americans, and the British.” No doubt, Prescott Bush (Dubya’s grandfather), who had financial dealings with Germans, including Fritz Thyssen, before and during the war, will make an appearance.
As Steve Sailer points out, Stone’s comments regarding Jewish predominance in the elite media and Hollywood, are consider outrageous here in the states, but are standard fare in the European world in which he socializes. One can find similar sentiments about the one-sided media coverage of the Israel-Palestinian conflict and the power of the Israel lobby expressed by John Stewart, among others. None of this makes Stone’s comments untrue.
Stone’s half-hearted apology aside, news of Stone’s interview must have reached the conservative movement as a kind wetdream of “liberal fascism” -- and I can’t believe they haven’t made more of it. For here is a notable critic of the Iraq war who can be linked not only to Latin American left-wing dictators but fascism and anti-Semitism.
The rest is history.
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