Vince Gilligan always referred to Breaking Bad as the evolution from “Mr. Chips to Scarface,” so it seems only natural that we’d want to know what the writer of 1983’s Scarface thought of it—particularly seeing as we cannot rest until every famous person’s thoughts on the Breaking Bad finale are properly cataloged, for our children’s children. Fortunately, that writer, Oliver Stone, has now volunteered his review, coincidentally at the same time that he’s trying to drum up publicity for the Blu-ray release of his The Untold History Of The United States: “I happen to not watch the series very much,” the riddle wrapped in an enigma topped with a mustache said, by way of announcing that valid opinions are forthcoming, “but I happened to tune in and I saw the most ridiculous 15 minutes of a movie—it would be laughed off the screen.”
The director’s professional, zeitgeist-capturing critique of those 15 minutes—which were the final act to a larger story he never actually paid attention to—was similarly part of a broader point about on-screen violence that likewise seems ridiculous. “There’s too much violence in our movies—and it’s all unreal to me,” said Oliver Stone, whose own tempered, realistic, and respectful explorations of violence range from Scarface’s dismemberment by chainsaw, to the sitcom parodies and stylized music video murders of Natural Born Killers. “Nobody could park his car right then and there and could have a machine gun that could go off perfectly and kill all of the bad guys! It would be a joke. It’s only in the movies that you find this kind of fantasy violence,” said the man whose last movie, Savages, ended with a violent shootout that is literally a fantasy.
“And that’s infected the American culture; you young people believe all of this shit!” continued the man whose self-professed satirical critique of the debilitating cultural violence he so despises ended up being cited as an inspiration by several real-life murderers. “Batman and Superman, you've lost your minds, and you don’t even know it!” said a man who works in the medium of film, and not a panicked member of the local PTA, of how today’s out-of-control kids probably even think Batman and Superman are real. “At least respect violence. I’m not saying don’t show violence, but show it with authenticity. If people think that bringing a machine gun to your last meeting is a solution to a television series that’s very popular, I think they’re insane. Something’s wrong,” said the man who wrote his own climactic finale where the chief inspiration for Breaking Bad solves his problems with a grenade launcher.
Obviously, some may quibble with a director, who has himself endured criticisms of glorifying violence from those who failed to put it in the proper context, offering the same to a TV series he admits he never actually watched. And yet, it all makes sense once we step through the looking glass, and recognize that it’s part of a larger conspiracy to keep America discussing Oliver Stone. And we’re just the patsies.
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