Oliver Stone is a man who knows his way around a provocative statement, if not one prone to much self-reflection. Promoting the upcoming Blu-ray release of his Showtime doc series “The Untold History of the United States,” Stone shared some attention-grabbing opinions about violence in the media, specifically as it relates to the finale of “Breaking Bad” (which, if you haven’t seen it yet, will be spoiled below). As reported by Forbes:
There’s too much violence in our movies – and it’s all unreal to me. I don’t know if you saw the denouement [of Breaking Bad], I happen to not watch the series very much, but I happened to tune in and I saw the most ridiculous 15 minutes of a movie — it would be laughed off the screen. Nobody could park his car right then and there and could have a machine gun that could go off perfectly and kill all of the bad guys! It would be a joke. It’s only in the movies that you find this kind of fantasy violence. And that’s infected the American culture; you young people believe all of this shit! Batman and Superman, you’ve lost your minds, and you don ‘t even know it! At least respect violence. I’m not saying don’t show violence, but show it with authenticity.
Stone knows what he’s doing here, but we can’t help but take the bait, if only to point out that his last film, “Savages,” was an orgy (or at least a three-way) of violence that cut out most of the satirical edge of its Don Winslow source material, too in love with the cinema-worthiness of its golden California hippie-criminal main characters to really cut into them the way the story demanded. It wasn’t realistic, and it wasn’t impactful, it was all sleaze and spectacle.
In fact, even “Natural Born Killers,” the Stone feature that directly confronted media obsessions with celebrity and violence, derived all of its pleasure from the same glamorization it tried to skewer, both a comment on our love for those elements and an artifact of it. Stone may have made serious films about the trauma of war, but he’s also made ones that relish in violence with no sense of impact, his last film climaxing in a literal fantasy of mass slaughter. He’s hardly one to be talking about this topic — except that he knows his way around a press quote, and here we are, writing about him.