Saturday, December 31, 2016

The Snowden Job of Oliver Stoned

When you call someone an America-loathing communist, it's usually hyperbolic insult, but with director Oliver Stone, it's his official job title. Still, his latest film Snowden has great merit. So, let's admit the virtues before we cast stones at Stone. Let's weigh the evidence before we commence any executions.

The complex saga of a complex man from a complex intelligence community is related in a couple hours in a form that can be grasped by an average intellect. The movie is neither shallow nor confusing. The film effectively conveys why US government surveilance is a real and present danger to liberty loving people. That is: all governments have a will to power and the US government has a lot more powerful tools and toys than most.

Nevertheless, this movie is dishonest. While Stone portrays the morality and sensitivity of Snowden till he appears a lone saint amidst many government coworkers ranging from diabolic to apathetic, the director makes no effort to include Edward's vain superiority complex that rubs many people the wrong way just in viewing brief Snowden video clips.

The other side of the argument is that Snowden could have been an effective voice for civil rights and limited surveilance within the US government, if he were half as important and connected as he and Stone imply. This opposing viewpoint never comes up. If government voices demanding that Snowden be executed as a traitor are rigid, Stone's paranoid nightmare that the CIA tortures and disappears all critics is a little unhinged.

(World-famous author Lyn Fuchs droned on and on about the CIA droning on and on here, but the evil empire has yet to send an assasin to my corner of the galaxy. Whether the CIA failed to off me because they are compassionate, apathetic, or omniscient that nobody reads book authors anymore, I would like to thank them for allowing me to drink, pray, and screw another day. I heart the intel community.)

In short, Oliver Stone's sincere belief that the American government and its same sex partner the industrial military complex are the greatest evil of all time (notwithstanding the Nazis, the North Korean loonies, and Darth Vader's Death Star) is bat shit crazy. Furthermore, this film's contention that getting some info about Big Brother's growth spurt to the noble souls of the media will usher in a new day is laughable.

Morbidly-obese Brother has not gone on any crash diet. Most 20-somethings have little enthusiasm for protecting privacy rights that they give away daily by posting their every fart, feeling, and foto online, in hope of getting a reality TV cam installed in their bedroom. Old guys like me and Oliver Stone can no more protect their 20-something daughters' liberty than their virginity. Every generation must submit the voices around them to an inner lie detector and choose their own values.

While I appreciate this Snowden job against the abuse of the state, Oliver Stoned needs to put down the bong and take a big hit on reality. A new year ushers in a new day, but Donald Trump will not be the messiah or the antichrist and his administration (including the CIA) will affect our futures less than our individual characters will. Whether that illicits a sigh of relief or disappointment, it's the truth - something you tend to get a lot more of from Sacred Ground Mag than an Oliver Stone movie. Thanks for reading and happy new year!

Update: The Wall Street Journal just reported that most of the files Snowden copied and smuggled were military intel of no value in his stated mission as a whistleblower on government overreach but of great barter value to the Russians, who transported him from Hong Kong to Moscow without valid passport or visa and have been harboring him ever since. If this is correct, Snowden still may not be a traitor, but if that bird hasn't sung, it's certainly quacking like a duck. At a minimum, Snowden is guilty of gross negligence with national secrets. A man who stands over a corpse with a bloody knife in his hand may be innocent, but he's also a reckless gambler with a good chance of going to jail. Surely, Oliver Stone could've found purer saints to whom he can offer homage.


  1. Stone has always seemed to have certain blinders on to aspects of reality, I've found, which is a shame, because there are times he can be an effective director.

  2. I think Stone is a great storyteller who should make it clear he is doing fiction.