Entertainment

Oliver Stone Still Won’t Go Away

Liberal director whips up young filmmakers: 'You can be critical of your government'

He palled around with the late Fidel Castro and with dictator Hugo Chavez — overall, director Oliver Stone has never been a friend to the American government.

Known for such politically charged and controversial films as “JFK” and “Platoon,” Stone took it upon himself Monday night to share some pointed advice with young filmmakers at the Gotham Independent Awards in New York. Accepting the Film Tribute Award after a glowing introduction by filmmaker J.C. Chandor, Stone encouraged young filmmakers to be critical of their government.

“I’d point out to those of you who are struggling to be independent and to stay independent — that’s the hard part, staying independent. I’d like to remind you that you can be critical,” Stone told the crowd. “You can be critical of your government, and we’ve forgotten that.”

He continued, “As Mr. [Edward] Snowden said very clearly, the mechanism is in place now so that when there is another terror attack, which inevitably there probably will be in this country, the next president … will have the authority to really close down the system in the most oppressive way … This is a major issue in our time and I hope young people won’t forget this in your work.”

Stone, to be sure, did not hang up his own boxing gloves when Obama took office. The director was highly critical of the president’s policies and his latest film, “Snowden,” let out some refreshing and obvious hits at the sitting president that others refused to take.

Yet when Stone says filmmakers have “forgotten” to be critical of the government, he clearly means their collective and obvious lack of criticism over the last eight years. Hollywood has stood behind President Obama at every turn and refused to use their expressions of art to keep power in check. Now, with President-Elect Trump getting ready to take office, they’ll almost certainly feel comfortable taking on the government once more — heck, plenty already have.

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After eight years of ignoring empty promises, hypocrisy, and downright bad and dangerous policies under President Obama — Hollywood is likely ready to be rebellious again.

Case in point: Michael Moore. Moore was once the rebel documentarian going after everything from President George W. Bush to an Alzheimer’s-afflicted Charlton Heston in the name of gun control. While Obama has been in office — continuing to grow government and impede on civil liberties, and making things worse (even by a liberal’s standards) — Moore has been MIA. So what brought the filmmaker back on the scene? Donald Trump.

In a last-minute move to be the wannabe David throwing a rock at Goliath, Moore released his first film in years, “Michael Moore in Trumpland.”

Since then, his Twitter feed has grown into an anti-Trump frenzy — something that will continue over the next four years. Other filmmakers will likely follow suit. Under George W. Bush, major releases like “Green Zone” and “Lions for Lambs” criticized the president, the government, and the wars. One highly publicized film, “Death of a President,” even examined an alternate future for the country where then-President Bush was assassinated.

Related: Michael Moore: Desperate for Glory

Under Obama? We’ve gotten “Southside with You,” a loving independent movie about Barack Obama’s first date with his future wife, Michelle. The hypocrisy at this point is likely too much to take for most Americans.

Surprisingly, in an interview with Variety regarding his award win, Stone took an optimistic tone about a Trump presidency. Revealing he voted for third party candidate Jill Stein, Stone said Trump’s win was “not necessarily all bad news.” 

“There have been thoughts on working on the infrastructure of the United States. That would be great. I think he would make a lot of friends. His intentions, at least as stated, are not to make enemies or to interfere in other people’s affairs, which has always been the problem with our country.”

Stone also revealed that his true disappointment was with the Democratic Party and its direction. “The Democrats are no longer the Democrats I grew up with.” 

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