South of the
Border, Oliver Stone's documentary about the leftist revolution in
several South American countries, wasn't exactly embraced by critics
when it hit theaters in June.
Weekly summed it up as “rose-colored agitprop.”
The New York Times'
Stephen Holden called it a “provocative, if shallow, exaltation of
Latin American socialism.”
Jay Weissberg wrote it off with this: “A predictable compendium of
Fox News clips on one side and peasants glad-handing their leaders on
the other, the docu offers little genuine information and no
investigative research, adopting a style even more polemical than
Stone's earlier docus on Fidel Castro and Yasser Arafat.”
Anthony Quinn observed in the
Independent UK that, “While you may applaud his cocking snook at
the American media, it becomes clear that Stone is ill-equipped to
conduct a serious political analysis of the continent.”
Karina Longworth of our big sistah
paper the Village Voice even piled on: “South of the Border's
subjects are masters at cooking bullshit, and Stone just eats it up.”
Many who hated the film, and even some who liked it a little better than that, agreed that Stone was too
enamored with his leftist president subjects, too
dismissive of their political opposition and not interested at all in
the average people in the streets. Such criticisms are valid, and I, too,
cringed when he stage directed a bicycle riding scene with Venezuela's Hugo Chávez or
kicked a soccer ball with Bolivia's Evo Morales.
But as South of the Border is
released on DVD today, one must applaud Stone for at least starting a
discussion no one else bothers to north of the border, at least not in the popular media.
And it is revelatory to hear Argentina's President Cristina
Fernández de Kirchner, in her own words, talk of resisting International Monetary Fund
pressure against her country paying back what it owed the IMF. Or learning her husband and predecessor,
Néstor Kirchner, pitched a Marshall Plan for South America to then-U.S. President George W. Bush, who dismissed it as “a
Democrat idea” and actually told his fellow world
leader that war is the best way to revitalize an economy.
I can't recall an Archer Daniel Midland-sponsored news show relating how Ecuador President Rafael Correa countered the resistance
from the U.S. to maintain a military base in Ecuador by suggesting
the U.S. allow Ecuador to maintain a base in Miami. Who else is connecting the dots between the long history of U.S. government
meddling, U.S. media demonizing and IMF
failing in South America with the average people rising up and electing leftist leaders like those above and Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of
Brazil and Fernando Lugo of Paraguay?
Stone recognizes something is going on in South America that is largely ignored by the U.S. media. If members of that fine industry have a problem with the bullshit he's eating in South of the Border, then
they should get the fuck down there and give us some truth.