I did not know Oliver Stone was involved in a film about the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In fact, I didn’t even know such a film was in the works. Jamie Foxx, the multi-faceted entertainer, was going to be MLK Jr.
But now, Stone, a fine filmmaker with some skill and the temperament to take on such a project, is out. He has quit the project over disagreements with the film’s direction and content, it seems. Here is Stone’s statement currently circulating the world of media:
“Sad news. My MLK project involvement has ended. I did an extensive rewrite of the script, but the producers won’t go with it.
“The script dealt w/ (with) issues of adultery, conflicts within the movement, and King’s spiritual transformation into a higher, more radical being. I’m told the estate & the ‘respectable’ black community that guard King’s reputation won’t approve it. They suffocate the man & the truth.”
I have to be serious. I am surprised he lasted this long.
This control over Dr. King has been going on since the moment Dr. King was killed. His image has been carefully controlled by so many different forces: the government, politicians, his family. Motives are different, of course, but Dr. King, the non-violent dreamer seeking a colorblind future for the U.S. has been the by-product. We are all quite robbed culturally and historically for this conduct.
Of course, no one wants Dr. King, the guy who was killed in Memphis. The guy laser focused on economic inequality and violence and militarism in this society. And I can’t imagine his family wants to hear about any of their father’s personal failings. So it works; this marriage of image control and revisionism.
The Republicans now say if Dr. King were here, he would be on their side. The Democrats think he would be on their side as well. I have serious doubts about that. The Democrats of drones and Barack Obama? The Democrats of Bill Clinton and the DLC? The Republicans who love racism and economic exploitation like its dark chocolate.
Most of us don’t really know what Dr. King would do today but we do know that Oliver Stone has a point. Don’t lie to us about Martin Luther King Jr. anymore (though, of course, they will)
I haven’t seen the Lincoln Memorial speech on August 28, 1963 today. I am sure I will. The “Dream” speech will be played over and over, wreaths will be laid, and people will talk about this non-violent man who wanted all of us to come together in brotherhood.
I can always count on Reuben Jackson, the poet, to remind me of how Dr. King’s legacy has been manipulated. Reuben probably heard about this and is laughing that Stone got frustrated at this image control and got out.
It don’t surprise me Oliver Stone decided to step off. He probably knew it wasn’t going to work. Fact is, we do need some dreams today, just new dreams. Like in that U2 song: we need new dreams tonight.
Bold, big dreams that actually will change the world and lives. This film, right now, sounds like the same old dream.
Photo Credit: biography.com