Off the Top of my HeadBy Paul Murray
Oliver Stone’s counterculture credibility was seriously knocked with the 2008 release of his George Bushathon “W,” which clearly revealed his political leaning and showed that the Republicans have a friend in Hollywood.
“Savages” is yet another sellout to the authoritarian rule of the U.S. Government and seems to be an attempt to sway public perception of marijuana into line with U.S. Federal Law, which currently prohibits the use of the drug, despite State laws to the contrary.
Marijuana is portrayed in the movie as a Class “A” drug in the same league as cocaine or heroin. Grass smoking is shown to be stupefying, addictive, leading to morally reprehensible behaviour (licentiousness), is associated with violent criminal behaviour, is culturally threatening etc, etc…but hang on a minute…marijuana smugglers don’t go about beheading people with chainsaws…that wouldn’t be groovy man!
Marijuana is persistently portrayed in a negative light in this movie.
As an example, lovely stoner Blake Lively, is in love with both male leads and they are totally comfortable with each other having an open sexual relationship with Lively, whose character is “O.”
All three are in the dope business and enthusiastic champions of their product. Their bedroom antics clearly resultant from the licentiousness and promiscuous sexual experimentation encouraged by the use of marijuana…as the story goes.
Lovely Lively “O” is kidnapped and is held held as leverage by the Baja Cartlel to gain control of the U.S. production and distribution chain currently run by “O” beaus Taylor Kitsch and Aaron Taylor-Johnson. She is incarcerated and at the mercy of henchman Benicio del Toro, fed a poor diet, chained and menaced and is quite terrified at her lost of Californian freedom.
Finally, after much persistent demanding, receives and audience with the head of the cartel Salma Hayek. Instead of pleading for her release, what does she request?…Marijuana, as she is apparently having some difficulty concentrating without the calming focus provided her by the drug, which she has been habitually smoking (and is addicted to) since she was a teenager. Ummm…this is not only unlikely, but ludicrous…another example of how marijuana is falsely portrayed in this film.
In this film, marijuana is a metaphor for cocaine OK…someone, perhaps the financiers, the government lawmakers, the CIA…whoever…want Joe Public to believe that marijuana is a threat to the fabric of society, but the question is, why do they want us to think that way? Perhaps the upcoming U.S. Presidential election has something to do with it? Is Mitt Romney considering making marijuana an election issue? Further leveraging the “War on Drugs” for political advantage? Or are federal lawmakers looking for help in bending the wave of public support for decriminalising the drug?
“Savages” may be a Republican hedge against a potential Obama play to make the legalization of marijuana in the United States an election issue…If Obama runs on a pledge to make Federal Law amendments in line with the will of the people––as evidenced by the many states that have moved to legalise or decriminalize weed––the Republicans will likely provide copies of the Oliver Stone film to their members and arrange for screenings at local community halls across the nation to foster paranoia and garner votes.
Republicans politicians need to demonise grass in the minds of their voters to make sure they can convince enough people support their ongoing “War on Drugs” to keep God-fearing U.S. citizens safe from the ravages marijuana will rain upon them and the pestilence and disease it will undoubtedly bring to civilised society.
The real motivation is of course to keep people believing that the government is doing everything possible to protect us from the narcotic scourge, when in reality, the government is controlling the entire drug trade. Given the border protection, customs checks and other security measures in the United States, how else are drugs brought into the country?
Tell an AmeriCAN they CAN’T and they’ll splash out their $pondoolie to show they can have whatever they want and they’re happy to pay…(provided they get a discount card with their first purchase that can be used for loyalty discounts to reward regular custom).
The United States has the toughest drug laws of Western industrialised, “first world” nations, but the country’s populace is the largest user of illicit drugs by a spectacular margin. The more illegal the drug, the more popular…it’s Economics 101…supply will rise to meet demand…and it’s a perfect business, low production cost, addictive product, loyal consumers, repeat customers assured, very high profit margin.
There is the minor issue of the product being illegal, but this is both the problem and the solution for the government…as they control both sides of the equation…and in the United States, the more illegal it is, the more popular and, by association, the higher the profits.
Stone makes the above points very well and in an engaging fashion and the movie is compelling viewing…it is also laden with propaganda, factual inaccuracies and misleading depiction.
The one concession I would make to Stone is the revelation that U.S. Federal Agents (John Travolta) are complicit in drug trafficking operations in the United States. The movie showed how it could happen, how the agents profit individually and how the agency, in this case the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Drug Enforcement Administration, are used to cover crimes of avarice perpetrated by senior agents.
More praise for the cast…a brilliant line up from the Californian cute and sassiness of Blake Lively, the sultry Salma Hayek as the ruthless Mexican matriarch of the Baja drug cartel…her henchman Benicio del Toro…a sinister, evil, merciless and deviant killer… Taylor Kitsch the brawn and Aaron Taylor-Johnson as the brains behind the Californian weed operation and the line-up is rounded off with a convincing performance from corrupt DEA agent John Travolta.
The movie is entertaining, but the content is factually incorrect and seriously misleading. Watching an Oliver Stone movie these days is much like reading a newspaper. You really need to interpolate…OK, this is what “they” want me to think…now, why do they want me to think this way? What’s the agenda? For a director responsible for such great movies as Salvador, JFK, Nixon, Wall Street and Platoon…Savages is a serious blight on his reputation…could Mr Stone be feathering his nest for retirement?
No stranger to Class “A” pharmaceuticals, Stone said recently in the LA Times, that he hopes people will watch “Savages” and think about the war on drugs and the violence it has sparked, especially in Mexico. Decriminalizing marijuana, he said, is a good first step.
“Prohibition never works — if it’s sex or drugs or alcohol,” Stone said. “So let’s get it under some sort of medical control, rather than criminal control.”
Sage words from Mr Stoner, but his movie serves to send a message in support of continued crack-down on the drug trade…it belies his comments.
Who is paying you Stone? You’re worse than a reformed cigarette smoker…your pious reverence and Machiavellian fact-bending is not lost on the thinking public…to hell with you, your movie and your second-hand smoke and mirrors!I have no proof of any of my above postulations, I have done little research into the subjects I broach, but to me, the only way any of this makes any sense at all is that what I have written is right…However, as you well know Uncle Sam, it matters not what is right, what matters is what people think is right…Right Rupert?
Oliver Stone Gets it Wrong on Mexico Drug War
Written by Patrick Corcoran
On the publicity circuit to promote his new movie, director Oliver Stone has made a series of assertions about Mexico and the war on drugs that are not only false, but promote a dangerously misleading view of the country’s criminal groups.
In a recent interview on “Piers Morgan Tonight,” Stone used a series of unfounded statistical assertions to justify his opposition to the war on drugs, theme of his movie “Savages” which opened in the US earlier this month. Among his comments, as compiled by the Los Angeles Times:
The Mexican economy would die without [drugs] because they need the money. It goes into their legitimate economy. It’s bigger than tourism. It’s bigger than oil. It’s bigger than remissions from their Mexican emigrants back to their country … Fifty percent of our prison system is victimless crimes. People who’ve never hurt anybody, they’re in for marijuana and it has nothing to do with punishment. It’s a medical issue, and I think we have to move to decriminalization and legalization.
Stone is right to point out that the mass incarceration of drug offenders is demonstrably inefficient and in many senses immoral, but his facts are incorrect. Drug offenders do not constitute 50 percent of the US prison system’s inmates, but just over 20 percent. There are certainly more effective and humane ways to deal with the issue than tossing these people behind bars, but the opponents of the largely mindless approach to drug policy that has dominated in the last 40 years only hurt their case by casually tossing out falsehoods.
The problem continues with Stone’s statement that flows of drug money in Mexico are larger than those from tourism, oil, or remittances. Estimates for the value of the Mexican drug trade are all over the map, but themost rigorous analyses have concluded that export revenue from the drug trade is far lower than Stone suggests. Alejandro Hope, for instance, places the figure somewhere between $4.7 to $8.1 billion, while theRAND Corporation estimates that Mexican traffickers earn roughly $6.6 billion per year from sending drugs to the US.
In contrast, remittances sent by Mexicans living abroad in 2011 amounted to $22.7 billion. Mexico’s tourist trade, notwithstanding the nation’s unfortunate image in the international press, still managed to generate $11.9 billion in 2010. Stone’s claim is even further from the mark with regard to oil: the revenues for Pemex, the national oil company, amounted to $125 billion in 2011.
Consequently, Stone’s statement that the Mexican economy “would die” without drug money drifts into the terrain of the indefensible. Unfortunately, Stone is not alone in this exaggerated view of drug money’s role in the Mexican economy. One story, put forward by authors like Richard Grant and Charles Bowden, holds that a 2001 study by CISEN, Mexico’s intelligence agency, found that an end to the drug trade would result in a 63 percent contraction of the Mexican economy.
The study is not public — citing a story from El Diario de Juarez, Bowden wrote that it was leaked to the media in 2001, though InSight Crime’s online search for the original study turned up nothing. It is difficult to know, therefore, if its authors were perhaps making a more nuanced point that was lost in subsequent references to it. However, the scenario posited by Grant and Bowden, and the implicit idea that the Mexican economy would “die” without drug money, is simply absurd.
The most obvious flaw is the very idea that drug trafficking could disappear entirely. Though the size and composition of proceeds from the illicit trade may vary, longstanding industries, especially those that feed upon deep-seated human desires, don’t simply disappear from one year to the next.
Moreover, as demonstrated above, the total revenue generated by the drug trade is relatively small. Even using a methodologically suspect high-end estimate, such as the $39 billion cited by the US National Drug Intelligence Center for revenues of all Colombian and Mexican organizations, and for the sake of argument attributing all of the profits to the Mexican gangs, the figure still amounts to less than 4 percent of total Mexican output. Using the more rigorous calculations of the industry’s size, drug trafficking probably accounts for roughly 0.5 percent of the nation’s economy. Eliminating the proceeds of drug smuggling would certainly have a significant impact on the GDP, but such an event, aside from being virtually impossible, would be nothing like the economic apocalypse posited by Stone.
Beyond simply being incorrect, Stone’s comments fuel a dystopian narrative of Mexico that has done the nation a great disservice over the past few years. They also help feed a belief that Mexico’s criminals are invincible supermen, against whom capitulation is the only solution. This is wrong, just like Stone’s facts.
‘Savages’ boss Oliver Stone knows good weed
By DAVID GERMAIN, Associated Press
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Oliver Stone has smoked great marijuana all over the world, from Vietnam and Thailand to Jamaica and South Sudan. But the filmmaker says the best weed is made in the USA and that pot could be a huge growth industry for taxpayers if it were legalized.
Stone, whose drug-war thriller “Savages” opens Friday, has been a regular toker since his days as an infantryman in Vietnam in the late 1960s and knows a good herb when he inhales one. He insisted in a recent interview that no one is producing better stuff now than U.S. growers.
“There’s good weed everywhere in the world, but my God, these Americans are brilliant,” said Stone, 65, who sees only benefits from legalizing marijuana. “It can be done. It can be done legally, safely, healthy, and it can be taxed and the government can pay for education and stuff like that. Also, you can save a fortune by not putting kids in jail.”
Stone is known for mixing polemics and drama in films such as “JFK,” ”Born on the Fourth of July,” ”Wall Street” and “Nixon,” his saga of the president who declared the war on drugs 40 years ago. Yet “Savages” may be closer to a pure thrill ride than anything he’s done, the action coming without much in the way of preaching for legalization.
Still, the film offers a fictional portrait of violence among a Mexican drug cartel and California pot growers that makes legalizing marijuana seem like a sane option.
“That would be my personal solution, but as a politician, I would fight for decriminalization first, because that is the immediate by-product of this mess that we got ourselves into. It’s very hard to pull out of a $40 billion-a-year industry, which is the prison industry. It’s probably more than $40 billion. But they will fight you tooth and nail to keep these prisons as big as they are,” Stone said.
“It’s worse than slavery, per capita. In the black community, it is a form of slavery, this drug war, because it imprisons a huge portion of people, destroys their lives, coarsens our culture. And why? Marijuana is much less harmful than tobacco and prescription drugs in many cases and certainly alcohol. This puritanical strain got started with Nixon. It was a political issue for him, and it’s gotten worse. It’s like the Pentagon. You can’t stop it.”
“Savages” co-star Salma Hayek had some worries that the film could have become a sermon in favor of drug legalization. She was glad the film wound up sticking to a good story and generally keeping politics out of it, even though she agrees that legalization makes sense for marijuana, at least.
“Yeah, marijuana, if it’s legalized and controlled,” Hayek said. “Some of the other drugs that are on the market are really, really dangerous. The legal drugs. That your doctor can prescribe. And they can kill you with it slowly.”
Hayek plays the merciless boss of a Mexican cartel aiming to seize control of a California pot operation whose leaders (Aaron Johnson and Taylor Kitsch) grow the best marijuana on the planet. The film co-stars Benicio Del Toro as Hayek’s brutal lieutenant, John Travolta as a corrupt Drug Enforcement Agency cop and Blake Lively as Johnson and Kitsch’s shared lover, whose kidnapping puts the two sides at war.
Stone, who has two Academy Awards as best director for 1989’s “Born on the Fourth of July” and 1986’s “Platoon” (the latter also won best picture), has had a fitful career since the mid-1990s, with critical bombs such as “Alexander” and modest box-office results for “W.”, “World Trade Center” and “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.”
With gorgeous Southern California scenery, wicked humor and relentless action, “Savages” may have more commercial appeal than anything Stone has done in decades. While the film itself doesn’t preach, it has given Stone a soapbox to play devil’s advocate, even landing him on the cover of the marijuana magazine High Times, smoking a joint.
“He’s Oliver Stone for a reason. There’s no filter, and he is who he is, and I admire that,” said “Savages” star Kitsch. “At the end of the day, who you’re going to be facing is yourself. If you can stay true to that — and I tell you, this business tests every minute of it — I love that. I love to see someone that is like, ‘Look, this (expletive) movie is what I’ve done. Take it or leave it.’ It’s an admirable quality, especially in this business.”
The federal War on Drugs is controversial and was most recently called a failure by Governor Chris Christie. The United States spends billions of dollars fighting drug trafficking abroad, as well. There is a long history of U.S. involvement south of its border, namely in Columbia, Mexico and Honduras. With growing support for drug legalization, it is important to recognize both presidential candidates’ view of the Drug War.
Foreign operations combating drug trafficking is not new. United States foreign policy has not always been globally popular, but would a withdrawal from the Drug War, even through legalization, affect perception? The outlook does not look good for anti-drug war supporters. President Obama has shifted the focus from counter-narcotics operations to institutional reform through budgeting. However, legalization is out of the question for the Obama administration.
As of now, we’ve heard very little from the Romney campaign about foreign drug policy but we might be able to predict possible policy. In regards to Latin America, he states military cooperation to eliminate drug cartels as a policy goal. We will not see a change in the international war on drugs with Romney as president. Perhaps there will be a slight escalation in the militarization of the international drug war. Romney has assembled his foreign policy advisers and most have worked under the Bush Administration.
The Bush Administration spent $6 billion to fight drug trafficking in Colombia. The policy was appropriately named Plan Colombia, and it promoted a militaristic approach comparable to counter-insurgency.
The United States is involved in Honduras to fight drug operations and launched Operation Anvil in April of this year. U.S. law enforcement and Honduran agents cooperated with each other. The U.S. military is also in a supporting role. Controversy was stirred when a raid killed four on a river-boat, two of them were pregnant women, as reported by CNN. This did not harm relations between the U.S. and Honduras. Critics question the legitimacy of casualties in a peacetime setting, especially when civilians can be mistaken casualties.
The newly elected President of Mexico, Enrique Pena Nieto has stated that he opposes legalization. He does call for increased U.S. cooperation with a focus to reduce violence.
“I’m against legalization, but with a debate where countries in the hemisphere — and especially the U.S. — should participate in this broad debate to redefine the way in which we fight drug trafficking,” Nieto said in his interview on PBS’s NewsHour.
Pena Nieto places emphasis on U.S. participation. This means there will be increased responsibility invested in the elected U.S. president for what happens in Mexico.
In recent news, the Fast and Furious scandal is another botch in the War on Drugs. The U.S. hoped to track Mexican drug cartels through a gunrunning sting operation. However, a U.S. agent, Brian Terry, was killed by cartel using weapons supplied through Fast and Furious.
The main difference between our main presidential candidates in terms of the foreign drug war is where the funding will be going. Obama shows a prioritization in fighting the drug war from an institutional perspective. Romney seeks to maintain a militarized focus, similar to the Bush Administration.