Source: The Guardian
It has been a couple of weeks, but I have been meaning to write this about Harvey Weinstein’s interview with my most favorite radio personality on Earth, Howard Stern. Now Howard has this way which makes it comfortable for people to talk to him. I mean if you are looking for a person who you would have Hillary Clinton talk to about her first orgasm, he is what you are looking for.
I am not going to put down the transcript, you can listen to the interview embedded below, but here is what he said. He said that he should not be saying this (rightly so), but he was going to do a film after which the NRA would wish they were not alive. Now curiously, Howard asked him, is it a documentary, which to me, makes the entire point of this post, that I am going to make rather more vulgarly and explicitly.
In another absolutely stupid, and even worse statement later, he claimed that he would not be producing films glorifying guns anymore. Even worse he agreed with his right wing critics. (Oh, there goes the Warsaw ghetto uprising project out of the window, not!)
What does a film producer look like when he turns into a political activist?
A lot of conservative pro-gun commentators have criticized him for this statement, which I respect, with Sen. Ted Cruz even calling him a hypocrite (a bit too harsh in my opinion), but my problem with it is for a different reason.
It does not matter to me if Harvey is pro or anti gun. I don’t give a fuck about that. My problem is that he is making a film to send out this anti gun message. I am just curious how he would do that.
And I am a little disappointed because I am a huge fan of the wonderful films he has produced over the years. I wouldn’t write this if I were not. I have tremendous respect for Weinstein and I know my opinion probably does not even matter here, but here is what I think about it.
I just don’t like hearing those words from a man who knows so much about making films. But perhaps he just went with it in the whim of the moment though his later statement suggested otherwise, but as much as I respect him, my respect for him as an artist has gone way down. Though I hate to even admit it to myself.
Let’s just say I disagree. He said he should not be saying this, but now I am rather glad he did. Things like these should ruin a filmmaker’s reputation, but people don’t pay attention.
Now here is this fine line. Telling a story does not necessarily exclude it from being propaganda. And full of reinforcement of political views. You know, 12 Angry Men, To Kill a Mocking Bird, Dead Man Walking, All Quiet on the Western Front, Lincoln, Delta Force, the list goes on and on. And I admit, that film has historically always been at the heart of political propaganda, but I deeply despise and detest that. I simply cannot respect that as someone who writes stories myself, no mater how much I persuade myself.
Making anti Nazi films is a political view too. But you can just tell the story. You cannot expect people to adopt your political views by hearing them.
I mean I know a lot of people who would still hate Jews and love the Nazis after watching a Holocaust film. Why? Because they are assholes. But all you can do is tell a story.
Some of you may not be able to separate art from propaganda, but you can. Art cannot be neutral, nothing is neutral. But art is open. You are telling a story, you are not telling people what to do.
Martin Scorsese tells the story of Jordan Belfort in The Wolf of Wall Street. He is not Michael Moore and it is not his business to tell people that capitalism is evil. He only tells them how this guy ended up. The End. You fade the fuck out.
Here is the problem.
Why is it that Weinstein thinks that people would really have any change of heart after watching this film? Because really, it is their own fucking business.
Has he conducted a survey of how many people disapproved of slavery after watching Django Unchained, or how many people have changed their minds about how much organized religion can mess a person’s life after watching Philomena, or maybe that George VI was not such an idiot after all after watching The King’s Speech?
OK, a lot of people must have stopped hating people with AIDS after watching Philadelphia or Dallas Buyers Club, or would have started sympathizing with Hitler after watching Der Untergang? But what does that even prove?
Then maybe people pissed at Django Unchained were right. though I don’t even recall what their outrage was about, it was so stupid.
Really, is this his concept of what film is meant to do and what filmmaking and telling stories is about? That sounds to me like Republicans saying that people become violent due to video games when explaining mass shootings.
Who knows. Maybe both of them are right. Maybe I am wrong on this.
Maybe we should go back to the time when the films were censored and cut out and not rated. Maybe there really are things that people are supposed to see and those that they are not supposed to see.
Maybe moral conservatism and moral policing have all the answers to the problems of the world.
Maybe there should be a department of enforcing righteousness and forbidding evil as the Islamic Sharia prescribes.
Yes, I would twist this statement to this point, because this is precisely what it is about, whether you admit it or not. That is up to you.
I just think Harvey Weinstein should have been the last person saying that. Someone like Cher or Mia Farrow or Meryl Streep or Jon Stewart would make more sense.
I mean, sure you can make a film telling the story of the Aurora shooting incident in Colorado. That would make a great and moving film actually, but doing it specifically to destroy the NRA or achieve some other political goal or lobbying leverage would not help your cause as an artist. Why not make a fucking documentary about it?
Or perhaps that kind of lobbying content is just a repulsive idea for a storyteller, no strings attached.
People know shootings are terrible. They know what happened. They know it is a bad thing. They saw it on the news. They are not stupid. The pro-gun folks will still remain pro-gun. The anti-gun folks will remain anti-gun.
Those who think killing people is a good idea would most likely still think it is a good idea. Mass shootings will still take place. But taking guns away to prevent them is not a bad argument.
It may sound like making too much fuss about nothing to some, but hey, if I rubbed shoulders with him, I would break his balls real time for that. I read somewhere that Louis B. Mayer was upset with Billy Wilder for making Sunset Blvd, one of the best films ever made in history or at least Hollywood’s best, because it showed Hollywood in a bad light (what an idiot), but someone should be genuinely upset at Harvey for this statement. Sadly, only pro gun conservatives were.
And probably the anti gun liberals would have trashed them for that. But everyone missed what the statement was about, because many of them probably believe that too anyway. Therefore, the condemnations of films like The Wolf of Wall Street, Django Unchained, La Voie lactée, The Last Temptation of Christ and Passion of the Christ and many many more elsewhere.
To me, it is beyond being liberal or conservative. It’s just stupid.
Also, Harvey, I am all for Jews with guns (hey, why, Germany was a peaceful country), I actually prefer them with guns, as in Israel, as it could have avoided, or at least delayed the Holocaust. And will prevent them getting attacked from all sides today. Remember Yom Kippur War? (OK, maybe my pacifism has had a little reality check)
But what I am not for is a Jewish girl avenging her family by setting a theater on fire full of a crowd of innocent German families, despite being Nazis, and having soldiers shoot the hell out of them? Alright, there were criminal Nazi generals in there too and I don’t mind interfering in her brand of justice, but what the heck.
But what is that for a message you are sending out to the audience, since you think your films have such a massive political impact. It’s a spectacular, funny climax scene, I know, gotta love Tarantino, but from your understanding, it sends out a bad message to the kids supposed to hate guns. Doesn’t it?
Did what I just said about this scene sound stupid to you?
It does? Well, I don’t blame you.
Maybe Ted Cruz was right about him after all.
Well, Harvey Weinstein is not half as close to his honesty or understanding about propaganda as Goebbels, but maybe he is getting there.
But my brother just said to me. Don’t take him seriously. He was on Howard Stern.
I just cannot.
Filed under: Commentary, Videos | Tagged: art, conservative, Django Unchained, education, film, Goebbels, guns, Harvey Weinstein, Hollywood, Holocaust, Howard Stern, Inglorious Basterds, Jews, liberal, morality, Nazi, NRA, politics, propaganda, radio, statement, story, storytelling, Ted Cruz | Leave a comment »