At the unveiling of "South of the Border" at the Venice Film Festival last September, Time's Richard Corliss reported that Stone and Chavez appeared in matching dark jackets, white shirts and red ties. When the festival announcer introduced Stone and not Chavez, Stone grabbed the strongman's hand and raised it overhead like they were presidential running mates. The crowd screamed in support, Stone holding hands with a man who famously suggested our last president was Satan.
It's not merely that Stone is infatuated with Chavez. He doesn't seem to consider, in his flowery "most vibrant opposition in the world" exclamation, that his last make-believe movie on clueless George W. Bush (and his bullying father George H.W. Bush) could not have been made in Venezuela if the subject were that country's president. Stone would be in prison.
This kind of performance reminds me of how Stone scorned the evil dominance of America right after 9/11. On Oct. 6, 2001, he participated in a panel discussion where he proclaimed that six companies have control of the world. (These all-powerful conglomerates were actually entertainment companies: AOL Time Warner; Disney; Fox's parent, News Corporation; Sony; Viacom; and Vivendi Universal.) Stone said the six represented "the new world order ... And I think the revolt of Sept. 11 was about 'F--- you. F--- your order.'" He also wondered, "Does anybody make a connection between the 2000 (presidential) election and the events of Sept. 11?"
The United States has provided great latitude to filmmakers mocking our presidents -- even imagining the assassination of our last president -- and somehow still, America, with all its freedoms offered to Hollywood, is mocked as an evil empire.
It is absolutely surreal that Stone would ever make a movie like "World Trade Center," which made heart-warming heroes out of Americans. Stone isn't just a critic of America, but of Americans, yet there's a certain paradox here. On the one hand, we want to dominate, exploit and enslave the world. On the other, we're powerless, rudderless puppets to those who roll over us and dominate. Stone somehow remains blind to the sweet land of liberty that allows him to stab that eagle in the foot with all of his might.
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