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Oliver Stone Defends ‘Alex the Gay’

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Associated Press
LONDON – Director Oliver Stone said he was surprised by the critical reaction to his historical epic “Alexander” – and put the blame on the fundamentalist morality in some parts of the United States.
Critics lambasted the film, which stars Irish actor Colin Farrell, and some conservative groups condemned Stone’s depiction of the Macedonian conqueror’s sexuality.
“I was quite taken aback by the controversy and fierceness of the reviews about a character we don’t really know too much about,” Stone told reporters in London Wednesday before the film’s British premiere.
“I operate on my passion and sometimes I’m naive, I don’t think about the consequences,” he said.
Stone said the commercial failure of “Alexander” in the United States could be linked to “a raging fundamentalism in morality.”
“From day one audiences didn’t show up,” he said. “They didn’t even read the reviews in the South because the media was using the words, `Alex the gay.’ As a result you can bet that they thought, `We’re not going to see a film about a military leader that has got something wrong with him.'”
Stone, director of “Platoon,” “JFK” and “Natural Born Killers,” said “Alexander” was “the epic of my life.”
“I’m very happy with the result and I think Colin’s work is extraordinary,” he said. “He’s had some tough reviews but he’ll ride it out.”
Said Farrell: “If Oliver ever wanted to work with me again I would do it in a heartbeat.”

DISCLOSURE: I have A) not seen the film and B) not enjoyed many of Oliver Stone’s previous films.

Poor, Oliver! He had an Academy Award winner on his hands until the Christians and Rednecks got in the way. Or maybe not… if critics can be believed (and we are writing for a web site called Blogcritics… this movie stunk on its own merits.

Again, let me repeat, I did not go see it so I cannot declare it a piece of rubbish. But I can take issue with the way Stone is going about defending his movie. When will Hollywood learn they are not constitutionally entitled to an audience? They have a right to make any film they want, but they are not guaranteed a hit. Freedom of speech includes freedom from speech. Audience indifference is not censorship, it is freedom of choice!

As to the specifics of Stone’s complaints, antagonizing a large segment of the buying public is not the best way to make money. Homosexuality is controversial in America. Should it be? I am not interested in being drawn into that debate. There is a divide in America over the issue and that is a reality. Artists have a choice: take risks or play it safe. There are virtues to both schools of thought. Art that brings people together can be special and so can art that explores the uncomfortable. There is place for both (and some would argue the best art is that which manages to have a foot in each camp) in this world.

Oliver Stone spent $80 million (and it was probably someone else’s money). He made a film the critics trashed and the audiences ignored. And I do not feel sorry for him.

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About Josh Hathaway

  • Aaron, Duke De Mondo

    i gotta say, im looking forward to Alexander, despite the raging reviews. From what i’ve read in Empire and Total FIlm, it wasn’t that he included Alexander’s bisexuality (imagine that! in a biopic! mind you, ron howard left it out of a beautiful mind. alongside all the artistry and the other stuff he forgot about) but that after all the yacking about such, he seemingly relegates this part of Alexander’s being to a few flirty glances, whilst his heterosexual love scene is hilariously over the top. Who knows?

  • Eric Olsen

    Duker, are you taking about Frodo and Sam again?

  • Aaron, Duke De Mondo

    Ha! The air of homosexuality has hung over my comments of late. Like as if they were tea-bagging. sorry. that was filthy.

  • Steve S

    antagonizing a large segment of the buying public is not the best way to make money. Homosexuality is controversial in America.

    I don’t understand your line of thought here. Yes, homosexuality is controversial, but there is strong evidence that points to Alexander being bisexual. Do we ‘alter’ the lives of actual people in the past to ‘appease’ the current populace? Is that what your suggesting?

    One thing Stone didn’t mention was the possibility of people being burned out on battle scenes, with the release of ‘Troy’ and that movie about King Arthur.

  • spiderleaf

    Oliver is at his best when he is being controversial and pushing the limits of accepted norms/ thought patterns.

    perhaps he should have included more of that aspect in the film vs. glossing over it and the film becoming another Gladiator or Troy (to Steve’s point).

    but I don’t see what he said as believing he was consitutionally guaranteed an audience, but rather, that the RWCM (right wing corporate media) portrayed the film a certain way right off the bat and campaigns were organized to marginalize the film as a “gay” movie.

  • DJRadiohead

    I was not in any way suggesting Stone censor himself or not make the movie he wanted to make.

    What bothered me is his blaming the audience for his movie’s failure. First, critical opinion seemed to largely suggest the movie blows {I repeat my disclaimer, I have not seen it so I won’t advocate that point on my own}. People have the right to vote with their pocketbook. Doing so does not make them biggoted. It makes them discerning. I think it is lazy to blame an audience for a film’s failure.

    And as an artist, if you are going to make a controversial film, you had better be prepared for the possibility that people will stay home in droves. They call it ‘taking a risk’ for a reason. Right or wrong… films with gay content (or perceived gay content) amount to a risk. The world does not exist to applaud someone’s every move.

  • Aaron, Duke De Mondo

    i don’t know that films with gay content or whatever are garenteed a smaller audience. I tihnk it’s down to how it’s portrayed. folks are more than willing to accept comedy queers a la Will And Grace, but don’t for a second expect folks to think these fellas might have, y’know, REAL emotions and such.

    Anyhow, it’s all a bit of a non-argument, since by all accounts the bisexual stuff barely registers in the flick.

  • Steve S

    films with gay content (or perceived gay content) amount to a risk

    yes, I know. What is unfortunate is that the world is willing to ‘stay away in droves’ as you put it, because part of history is apparently risky. Don’t like the past? Just refuse to learn about it then. That’s always a smart move. Doubly crazy when you consider all of his achievements in his life but want to stay away from learning of it all because of a brief mention in a movie about his sexuality. It’s also mentioned in many historical college textbooks. I guess those textbooks will be the Right’s next target.

    The world does not exist to applaud someone’s every move.

    I don’t know if you are referring to Oliver Stone here, or not but I say, maybe the world doesn’t exist to applaud his every move, but if you make a movie just for entertainment value and the ‘audience’ shuns it to make a political point, then they definitely screwed you over unfairly.

    Diversity doesn’t exist to make a political point. Diversity exists because it exists. Shunning it doesn’t make it go away, it just leaves an end result that makes everybody unhappy all the way around.

  • Andrew Ian Dodge

    My fave line about it the only highlights were in Colin Firth’s hair.

  • heavenmetal

    Who would the audience for this film be?
    GUYS-It’s a war movie, and they want to identify themselves with the hero, imagine they have the power to conquer nations and get the beautiful girl (like in Braveheart and Gladiator). If you enter a homosexual aspect to it, it destroys that ‘I wish I was like him’ component, because to say ‘I wish I was Alexander’, implicitly says ‘I wish I was bisexual.’

    GIRLS-It’s a superviolent movie, a war movie, not the type of thing that girls want to sit through for hours.

    What’s left?
    SPECIAL INTERESTS: People interested in Greek History, Oliver Stone, Colin Farrel or Angelina Jolie. Those are the only ones who would go see this movie.

    CONCLUSION: Guys,don’t go to gay movies. Girls don’t go to battle epics.
    Ollie can’t alienate his audience and blame religious fundamentalism to his fundamental misunderstanding of his audience.

  • Eric Olsen

    very logical, hadn’t thought of it that way – I think it’s possible to transcend these issues but obviously Stone didn’t do it

  • DJRadiohead

    Doubly crazy when you consider all of his achievements in his life but want to stay away from learning of it all because of a brief mention in a movie about his sexuality.

    And here is where I have some degree of sympathy for Stone and other film directors.

    So, you want to make a movie about ______. Why? Why would you want to make a film about this particular guy? Because he/she is an important historical figure. What makes him/her an important historical figure? His/her accomplishments. So you make a film about _______’s accomplishments. And some critic will blast you for ignoring other aspects of their life (marriage, sexuality, friendships, slave owning, child molesting, drinking, drugs, whatever). Or you include those things and you get blasted for being tawdry or you get accused of missing the point of ________’s life: their accomplishments. Is Alexander’s sexuality relevant to his accomplishments? Is that even an important question?

    It’s a tough acre to navigate. Any why? Because you are trying to take a person who might have lived 75 years and distill that into 2 1/2 hours of film. When people didn’t turn up to see Stone’s film, he chose to assume the worst in people and accuse them of homophobia.

    Nice to have someone else to blame when your movie bombs.

  • andy marsh

    DJR asked the most relevant question in this thread. Did Alexanders’ sexuality have ANYTHING to do with his accomplishments?

    I can’t wait for someone like Stone to do the next movie about Lincoln!

  • salmoncatchingbear

    right, let me just state for the record that i have seen as much of the film as i could be bothered to see, and then got fed up.

    the reason that this film sucks is that the film sucks, stat. nothing to do with homosexuality(why on earth be ashamed of how you were born/nurtured), nothing to do with that at all.

    the film sucks because it takes forever to get going, and when it does it’s with a whimper not a bang, and one more HUGE point:

    everyone except Jolie has an irish accent… erm, why? Farrell had the least irish accent of them all, and he’s Irish. Val Kilmer, Irish accent, al the kids, everyone.

    i can only imagine that what really happened (must have been asleep in history class) is that the irish moved to macedonia to escape the potatoe famine. or something. i couldn’t get into the film at all, because i was just listening to the bizarre dublin lilt of all the actors.

    basically, i think that he wanted it to be more like Troy, so he asked the actors to act like Brad Pitt… but they acted like Brad Pitt in Snatch(where he played a pikey, i recommend this film, excellent!), complete with full-on pikey-irish accent.

    only good thing about this film is at the end(i didnt get that far), an old friend of mine is an extra and he gets a long close up apparantly… Chris Sampson, he has a big head, like a double decker bus, and is covered in “brown stuff” apparantly… muct look like Paris Hilton on a bad day!!

  • DJRadiohead

    Steven Spielberg is doing the next Lincoln movie. Liam Neeson has been tapped to play the 16th President.

  • Different Take on this

    Not all cultures view or define homosexuality in the same manner.

    In the US, both partners are considered homosexual if they participate in a homosexual act. In many other countries and in ancient Macedonia, only the person being penetrated was considered homosexual.

    Just thought you should know

  • Eric Olsen

    it takes two to tango

  • spiderleaf

    that actually has correlations to modern society as well — i.e. the prison system.

  • Cedric

    Ok, this is unfair.

    Why make the same goddamn war movie over and over again, and hide some historical facts (not only Alexander was very gay, but the whole thing about homosexuality was different in those
    days, a common behavior perceived as natural),
    just to please the stubborn mentality of american conservatists?

    Yes, the crying scene at the end over his boyfriend can seem a little cheese but trust me, the same scene with a woman would have been AS MUCH cheese. That is just that it’s saturated with pathos.

    I don’t think we need to adjust to people who are closeminded. I’m appaled that people can’t accept that not every culture was ever like theirs. There’s a big stigma about homosexuality, and how everything around it in popular representation is informed by feminity (faggish…queenish…even Hephastion is represented as girlish in the movie). The gay sauna scene in Spartacus was probably more like how it was.

    Alexander is far from being the only man who slept with other men in war history (it was even current in Asia). I think it’s about time that someone just show that these things happened
    (and happen), and that life is more complex than the kiddy tales of prince and princesses let people ought to be.

    Compared to oscarized Ridley Scott and others, for once I saw a battle film that seemed to conclude with a theme of redundancy. Why keep provoking all these wars? There is enough in the film to satisfy those who see a tyrant in Alexander.

    They are many shortcuts, and many events passed by (the burning of Persepolis, the building of Alexandria, etc…), but for a general blockbuster historical film, it’s pretty decent.


  • Catalin P

    I’m 40 years old male from Romania.

    I borrow last week-end a DVD to watch an historical movie.
    I choose Alexander.
    I seat in an armchair together with my wife and my 7 year old son.
    I didn’t know anything about the movie.
    I saw not a hero and not war scene and not a conqueror.
    Oliver Stone left to little time from this big movie to those aspects of Alexander life.
    No, all was focused on his presumed gay behavior.

    There are facts in history to sustain Alexander sexual orientation?

    I read that at the top of this page:
    “I was quite taken aback by the controversy and fierceness of the reviews about a character we don’t really know too much about,” Stone told reporters in London Wednesday before the film’s British premiere.

    I wander then, if we know only too little about the character why we want to say that Alexander was gay?

    It is good for our children too teach then that our heroes were gay?
    I heard someone, these days on Discovery that Jesus was gay and this was the main reason he wasn’t married with Maria Magdalena?

    I understand that are a lot of gays in the world. I understand that they have rights. I understand that they want to educate young boys with their beliefs.
    No one have a solid proof that someone is born gay or became gay during his life.

    So, please don’t be so angry if still there are so many people in the world with normal sexual orientation.

    The lack of success of the movie was not because Alexander was declared gay, but because the movie was focused mainly on this aspect from his life.

  • BettieW

    Of course, there’s no gay agenda. Of course not. Yeah. Sure. Right.