Eye-Opening Perspectives for Heroic Hearts

Eye-Opening Perspectives for Heroic Hearts

Monday, October 18, 2010

Oliver Stone, Koch, Taft-Hartley and Jackasses at the Border

Oliver Stone's Jackass Documentary

10.18.2010 Winsip Custer CPW News Service

It hit the big screens in Venezuela with a resounding thud.  Oliver Stone's summer 2010 documentary South of the Border taught the famed director an important lesson in film-making.  Reality theater, unless it's Jackass I or II or a documentary that uses the formula of Michael Moore's popular documentaries, is a dud.

So what were the lessons learned by Mr. Stone?  I asked John H. Corman the long-time producer, director and CEO of Monumental Docu-Mental Inc and DocuBright Films to give us his insights on the poor performance of Oliver Stone's documentary which made barely over $18,000 in the first two weeks playing on twenty screens in Venezuela. Here's what Corman said:

  • People, left, right and center politically, do not like their leaders to wear army olive drab uniforms.  This should have been apparent from the Muriel Boat Lift, the horrible public response to George W Bush's landing on the deck of US aircraft carrier or Hugo Chavez's depressing get-up.  People don't want to see a film featuring a leader that always looks like he just came in from a dove hunt.  People want to be as gentle as doves, but they can be as wise as serpents when their leaders are dressed up to chase them down the fence rows.  The drabs dredge up images of Dick Cheney hunting quail with Harry Whittington in Texas.  People are nervously funny that way.  Army drabs have you thinking... "the guns have got to be nearby somewhere."
  • Michael Moore's documentaries always play first and foremost to the self-loathing of the American audience. This is a brilliant strategy.  We love to hate ourselves and will pay big bucks to celebrate the freedom to do so.  It's is a wrong-headed idea to try to go South of the Border and play to the audience there with images of the ugly Americans when so many of those South of the Border are headed North of the border.
  • By making a documentary rather than a feature film, Mr. Stone circumvented many of the requirements for hiring union actors.  This directly undercuts the incomes of the very people that Mr. Stone claims he is concerned about in the first place.  Workers.  The "slave-labor bill", better known as the Taft-Hartley Act named for Robert Alphonzo Taft, the descendant of Yale Skull & Bones founder Alphonzo Taft and Fred C. Hartley, a close friend of the Koch family that has been the biggest financial supporters of the Tea Party Movement and the anti-global-warming-advocates, specifically protected documentaries from many union requirements. This means that in choosing the documentary format, both Mr. Stone and Mr. Moore had chosen a film genre' that's potentially very, very lucrative at the expense of the actors, unions and screen guilds.  Documentaries are generally lower budget, do not require union actors and can have an impressive return on investments that has the hardest-hearted capitalist warming to the numbers.
Mr. Corman went on to say that he would love the opportunity to work with Oliver Stone on his next film.  "I suggest another documentary titled 'Just A Stone's Throw Away:  How to get to America for Forty Dollars Without Hiring a Dangerous Mule.'  It plays on people's hopes and dreams and builds on the success of titles  Jackass I and II," said Corman.

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