Oliver Stone trends as internet debates one of his most controversial films

Tweets from American journalist Glenn Greenwald, known for his reporting at The Guardian and The Washington Post on documents leaked by Edward Snowden on U.S. global surveillance, sparked a viral storm centered on the journalist’s self-professed friend and Academy Award-winning director Oliver Stone.

Writing in support of Stone’s film JFK Revisited: Through the Looking Glass, which was released just last month, Greenwald incited a viral backlash with claims that the director was blacklisted, silenced, or otherwise canceled for the theory touted by his 1991 film JFK that the U.S. government concealed the truth around John F. Kennedy’s assassination.

When the film premiered in 1991, the widely celebrated director already had two Oscars. “Instead of cashing in,” Greenwald posits, “he used his platform to make ‘JFK,’ the first mainstream cultural product to question the official JFK narrative.” 

It’s that last part that really stuck out to Twitter. For his supposed transgression, “[Stone] was pilloried and destroyed for it.” According to Greenwald, the version of events tries to stuff Stone’s career into something that looks a lot like cancel culture, something he has previously written about in film. 

Greenwald continues in a thread: “The vicious reaction to that film on the part of the corporate press was insane. Go read it. But it resulted in opening up the archives.” It’s worth noting that Greenwald is a controversial figure himself and well known for stirring the pot.

Many were quick to point out the observable inconsistencies in Greenwald’s account, like JFK‘s eight Academy Awards nominations. One user asked if they could be pilloried and destroyed like Stone while sharing an image of the director’s filmography — evidently ongoing — on IMDB.

Others have pointed out, Greenwald’s other claim (that Stone mainstreamed a counter-myth the Warren Mission’s narrative of the assassination) mischaracterizes the context of Stone’s film. One thread criticizes the supposed consensus Greenwald cites. 

Greenwald handled the viral response less than gracefully. He later amended his threat, characterizing the viral smackdown as “A little brigade of snotty movie critics.”

“I’ve known Stone for years,” Greenwald continues. “He made a film in which I was a character. He was just in my home last Sunday. I’ve had many long conversations with him about the impact on his career from the media contempt for “JFK.”

And in the threads sixth and—at time of waiting—final tweet, Greenwald adds: “He was widely labeled a liar, a crazed leftist and conspiracy theorist.” 

Many commenters responded with evidence that Stone kept making films with Hollywood support — getting bigger productions even after box office failures. 

One reply sent the rhetorical questions back: “Stone kept making mid to high budget movies in Hollywood, and this new doc is released by Showtime (ViacomCBS). Why did they continue funding him?”

More continued to point out the string of box office failures, with one reply sharing a screenshot of the wiki page for Stone’s 2004 historical epic Alexander which characterizes the film as a commercial failure for its marginal box office income.

Still, box office performance or controversy hasn’t exactly silenced the director. Just last month, Stone wrote a guest column in The Hollywood Reporter calling on President Biden to release the rest of the sealed files on the former president’s death that his earlier film made infamous. 

JFK Revisited: Through the Looking Glass is available to watch on streaming services that carry Showtime.