How (Not To) Cover Lies
I was going to post a long explanation of why I was horrified by an author’s Facebook rave about a movie last week, and said something I probably shouldn’t have, but instead I’ll make it short(ish):
#1 Hollywood director Oliver Stone is one of the most prominent Western propagandists for Russia.
#2 He considers Vladimir Putin a friend (in fact his next movie is a propaganda piece praising Putin; he interviewed him personally for it). If people liked and believed his Edward Snowden “biopic”, what’s to say they won’t like and believe the Putin one, too?
#3 He talks to right-wing English-language tabloids, spreading blatant Kremlin-approved lies about things like the war in Ukraine.
Oliver Stone interviews the deposed pro-Russian president of Ukraine for a propaganda piece about the revolution that resulted in Putin’s invasion. Viktor Yanukovych is wanted worldwide for crimes such as killing his own people in 2014. He is now in hiding in Russia, but Putin gave Stone access to him.
#4 Which means paying to support, and watching, enjoying, and then recommending his films to thousands of your readers is more dangerous than you might realise.
#5 After 2016, when English-language, Kremlin-generated propaganda achieved appalling, damaging things, like delivering Trump to power, this is not a time for being ignorant.
#6 Which is why I became very angry with a very popular romance author on Friday night after seeing her singing the praises of an Oliver Stone film, made to put subtle and not-so subtle ideas in Westerners’ heads about Edward Snowden, the United States, and Russia. I totally lost it when she concluded Snowden was a hero of our time – exactly what the Russians want you to think.
This is not an era where anyone can afford to take “documentaries” or “biopics” at face value (e.g. the day after Ukraine’s new president was elected, a Kremlin-produced “documentary” was released, calling him a Nazi). The past four years have been dangerous enough and thousands of people have already died because of it – they might not be American, and so they rarely make the news, but their lives aren’t worth less. Authors with a massive fanbase and a great deal of influence have a responsibility to be smarter that that.