Seemingly, academic research or interpretation must be verified by the panels of Hollywood before it becomes valid, or “truth” for the public at large. Take, for example, the topic of anthropogenic global warming. The Hollywood elite largely propagandized the theory, and it was Al Gore’s 2006 film An Inconvenient Truth that catapulted awareness of the topic, and validated the theory of global warming in American minds. Millions of climatologists were born overnight, ready to convince the deniers that Al Gore is right and any information to the contrary is propaganda by the oil companies and George Bush.
And now Oliver Stone, the unconventional mind that promoted the esoteric conspiracy that became film in JFK, is offering a “10-hour crash course in the history of the twentieth century,” (1) intended to wipe away conventional viewpoints of polarizing characters such as Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin. And despite a focus largely comprised of non-Americans, he is to call it, “Oliver Stone’s Secret History of America.”
Among his assertions, he is to include the purposefully incendiary belief that Hitler is a fall-guy, too often used as a “scapegoat.” He challenges the widely kept opinion that Hitler was “evil,” though logic suggests that the stigma may be justified. After all, he was the figurehead of an aggressive regime that spearheaded a global conflict causing millions of deaths, and he was the architect of the most heinous and effective genocide in history.
But according to Stone, the average American’s choice to refer to Hitler as “bad or good” reflects a lack of sophistication, because Hitler was neither. He was simply the product of a series of events that occurred between World War I and World War II. And apparently, “people in America don’t know the connection.”(1) Either Oliver Stone feels that Americans are too uneducated to know about the events that shaped Hitler’s rise to power, or, more likely, he is taking the conspiracy theorist's approach, arguing that "the powers that be" have successfully covered up what they don't want you to know. And only Stone knows the “truth.”
It takes extraordinary egotism for Oliver Stone to claim that, seasoned only by a career of directing fictional films and attending Hollywood galas, he has achieved what lifelong historians and scholars have been entirely unable to do. Stone claims he has “been able to walk in Stalin’s shoes and Hitler's shoes,” (1) and apparently has unraveled the truth from the seamless web of historical lies that we have been universally duped to believe.
But rather than taking offense to Stone’s arrogance, or questioning why such revelations are coming from a filmmaker rather than a former CIA operative or something, many will likely just watch his “Secret History” and assimilate the selective disclosure and corruption of historical facts. And then they will lecture all of their friends about how the history books are wrong, and Oliver Stone is right.
Just as a viewing of An Inconvenient Truth conferred immediate and imaginary climatology degrees in the minds of its viewers, the “Secret History” will likely breed an entire mass of liberal “historians” ready to argue their cause, complete with outlandish conspiratorial perspectives about how conventional history has been fabricated by an enemy of the “truth.”
And frustratingly, they will think themselves well-versed scholars. But their understanding will probably have a hollow foundation, save only the viewing of a politically slanted film made by an egomaniac.
It will be familiar. But this time, not about “global warming.”