Oliver Stone’s latest desperate grasp at relevance is a new cable series that, among other things, promises to finally place der Furher into der context. Now, this is where I’m supposed to be outraged, but I’m just not feeling it. Ollie, I know you’d like us to believe that this isn’t just a pathetic stunt, that this brainstorm was inspired by some peyote-spawned fire demon’s whisperings inside your drug-addled cerebellum and that if we’re truly edgy we won’t dare ignore your remarkable vision. But I think you’re once again just trying to freak out the squares and this square, for one, is mighty bored.
Stone’s scripts for Midnight Express and Scarface blew our collective minds with staggering violence and raw language. Then he directed Platoon – an awesome film if you dig sophomore-level meditations on the duality of good and evil leavened with gunfire. JFK came along and demonstrated that Kennedy was murdered not by the commie misfit who actually did it, but a conspiracy made up of big business, the government, the military, the Trilateral Commission, the Knights Templar, Prince Olaf of South Ruritania, and everyone else on Earth except Lee Harvey Oswald and JFK himself – or was he in on it too? After that, Stone was ready to completely abandon the constraints imposed by concepts like “story,” “characters” and “coherence.” Natural Born Killers was the result, the perfect Oliver Stone film – all controversy, great visuals, and nothing that made anything remotely like sense.
For Stone, it’s still about shock, but he hasn’t inspired any awe in years. So, to even approach this series, called Secret History, as a serious effort to convey anything like a coherent idea is to miss the point. This show and his nakedly calculated attempt to incite a backlash are nothing but a waning artist’s sad attempt to seize the limelight one last time. And he has a back-up plan – his next movie is a cash-the-check sequel to the venerable Wall Street. I guess greed really is good – at least when Stone’s the one being greedy.
Does Stone really believe that Hitler somehow lacks “context,” or that “American corporations were involved [with the Nazis], from GM through IBM”? Sure, to the extent he believes in anything besides gobbling pharmaceuticals and ginning up publicity, but make no mistake: His Secret History will be neither. It will not be “history” in the sense of relating what actually transpired in the past. Nor is its tired leftist wisdom on how America was somehow to blame for the rise of the Nazis – as it is to blame for all evil throughout the ages – a “secret.” If you can’t wait to get a dose of it, just check out the Daily Kos comments or join the other half-dozen lonely lefty shut-ins who actually saw Howard Zinn’s recent celebrity-filled trash America fest.
The real Secret History that Stone won’t disclose involves the identity of the Americans who actually thought the Nazis had quite a lot to offer with their collectivist, anti-capitalist vision, their refusal to let things like democracy stop their agenda, and their fondness for eugenics. Here’s a hint: It starts with a “P” and ends with a “rogressives.”
So I would not be at all surprised if the Secret History ends up showing that Third Reich silver lining we short-sighted conservatives always seem to overlook. I expect the show will remind me of being stationed in Stuttgart in the late-Eighties/early-nineties and hitting the volksfestswith my Army buddies. There’d be a bunch of Germans at the long tables eating pretzels and pounding away on the Schaweben Brau and after the seventh or eighth stein-full they’d lean in to me, bleary-eyed, fingers wagging, and in slurred English say, “You know, you Americans don’t understand Hitler. He vas not all bad…” It was then that I understood why my ancestors left Deutschland.
But it’s not constructive to simply criticize, so for Mr. Stone’s benefit here is some help with the proper context for the poor, misunderstood Adolph Hitler:
There’s your context, Ollie. You’re welcome.