Oliver Stone got so sick of always reading the sanitised version of US history that he decided to write his own. He talks about the real reason America dropped the atom bomb, how Kennedy is a hero and why he can’t stand Hillary Clinton.
Oliver Stone has just agreed to take part in the US version of Jamie’s Dream School, the TV show that explored the interesting notion that famous people might educate kids better than teachers. “It was much criticised in Britain but I still think it’s a good idea,” says Stone over coffee and bagels in a Soho hotel. He’ll be the American equivalent of Jamie’s history teacher David Starkey. Only, you’d suspect, more radical.
Stone’s TV history class might well be named US Heresies 101. “We’re going to take these texts from regular history and compare them to what we think happened.” He will teach that the bombing of Hiroshima was premised on a lie, that the CIA’s secret war against leftist Central American governments was based on chimerical communist threat, that the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq were follies and, perhaps most intolerable of all to patriots, that the United States of America is just as self-serving, duplicitous, corrupt, oppressive, expansionist and racist as – there’s no easy way to say this – the British empire.
In the 1960s, Stone was awarded a bronze star and a purple heart with oak leaf cluster for heroism in Vietnam. If he survives lynching by adolescent reality-show neo-cons, he should get another medal.
It will be the latest improbable chapter in the life story of a man raised as an Eisenhower Republican, who fought as a patriot in Vietnam and made his name in Hollywood writing such splashy, amoral screenplays as Scarface for Al Pacino, before becoming an Oscar-winning, Chávez-admiring Buddhist whom the Observer described as “one of the few committed men of the left working in mainstream American cinema”. Today he tells me he is looking forward to attending the Subversive film festival in Croatia. Of course he is.
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