Steven Spielberg: America’s divided politics today are like ‘before the Civil War’

The Fashion Awards 2017

I didn’t like the trailer for The Post. I thought that the tone was “off” and it seemed like it was trying to be all things to all people – a suspense/thriller, a bio-pic of Katharine Graham (the legendary publisher of the Washington Post), a by-the-books historical account, and a showcase for “the best actors in the world,” Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep. I was left cold by the trailer, but I know I’ll eventually see the film and hell, I’ll probably even like it (I enjoy films about journalism). The early reports are that the film is great too – the National Board of Review (arguably the most prestigious of all the critics’ awards) gave The Post the Best Actor and Best Actress awards, and the film is being short-listed on everyone’s Best Picture list.

Anyway, director Steven Spielberg covers the latest issue of The Hollywood Reporter to support The Post, and THR surrounded him with his female colleagues: Meryl (his star), Liz Hannah (the screenwriter), Amy Pascal (producer) and Kristie Macosko Krieger (producer). The idea is supposed to be “feminism” or “America’s greatest director is a great ally.” Eh. You can read the entire THR piece here. The film – about WaPo’s publication of the Pentagon Papers – is timely in that it’s about journalism’s role in speaking truth to power, whether or not the First Amendment protects media outlets when they publish stolen, hacked or leaked government information, and whether the fourth estate can really ultimately serve as a “check” in the balance of power. THR spoke to Amy Pascal, Meryl and Spielberg, and here are some of the highlights:

Spielberg on why he wanted to make this movie in 2017: “I thought this was an idea that felt more like 2017 than 1971 — I could not believe the similarities between today and what happened with the Nixon administration against their avowed enemies The New York Times and The Washington Post. I realized this was the only year to make this film…My first reaction [reading the script] was I got scared — which is good for me because fear is my fuel. The more frightened I become of something, the more I have to work through it. This was a topic that was scaring everybody I know on my side of the [political] street — and quite rightly.

Spielberg on what scares him these days: “That we’ve lost the majority of good listeners, that our conversations have turned into skirmishes … at dinner-table conversations outside of California, I’m completely mute or I get into these huge rows. The gray and the blue have become the blue and the red. And it is as vast a chasm as our nation faced before the Civil War. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Streep on what scares her: “We don’t know where north is. People disagree on what actual facts are. Whether this table is really a table.”

Streep on whether she trusts the media today: “Broadly? All of it? No. You trust but verify. We get betrayed.”

Spielberg on whether he trusts the media: “I’m not going to go on record saying which media I trust; I’m just saying, obviously, there is media that you would imagine I would not trust. (Laughter.) Obviously, there is media you would take for granted I trust, and you would be right.

[From THR]

There’s a lot more in the THR piece, which I liked because it wasn’t just Spielberg talking over the ladies. It was a larger conversation and they all got to say their piece. I found the part about Edward Snowden and Julian Assange very interesting too – the group talks about whether Snowden had the right to steal and leak that information, and whether Assange had the right to publish the material Chelsea Manning stole. What strikes me more and more about both Snowden and Assange is how their respective causes were weaponized against the American people. Specifically with Assange, although Snowden doesn’t have clean hands at all, looking back on it. Assange started out with one good and interesting principle – that there are no gatekeepers to the truth, and that we should have access to every piece of information in a free society – and that message was hijacked and weaponized by Russia and Deplorable propagandists. The cause of free and filterless information got hijacked by a propaganda machine, and the machine got Donald Trump elected and now there’s no such thing as truth, verification or facts. Sleep well, kids!

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Photos courtesy of Getty, cover courtesy of The Hollywood Reporter.

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12 Responses to “Steven Spielberg: America’s divided politics today are like ‘before the Civil War’”

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  1. Maya says:

    I like Spielberg but I won’t be seeing this or any other movies for a while.

    I am so fed up with the daily revelation and read about those men who raped and/or assaulted women and children.

    Spielberg is right that a civil war is brewing and as last time, racists will lose. But before the war ends, millions of innocent people would suffer and women the most. Unlike last time, women will be in the front to fight against these vile racist and sexist white men/boys.

    PS: reading about Amy, I went straight to Scott Rudin. I know he is a bully and hates women but are there any stories of him abusing anyone?

    • Sally says:

      I won’t ever be seeing another Meryl Streep movie. even before she came out FOR her bestie, Weinstein, (then timidly recanted), Streep’s films were as boring as hell, she has played the same exact character for the last 10 years. She’s dull and boring, moviegoers agree, just look at the B.O. numbers.

      The newest film yet to come out with Hanks and Streep looks like a colossal snooze fest.

    • anon says:

      you had to bring race into it, didn’t you? i’m a poc but getting fed up of hatred from non whites against whites! millions of white men died in the civil war and during world war ii to save poc. hatred is bad, whoever it comes from. peace.

  2. RBC says:

    What worries me watching the current political divisions in the states. Is what will happen when ( not if)45 is forced to leave office? He has some diehard supporters who will not accept his leaving very well. Just watching the reaction of his supporters at rallies is chilling.

  3. IlsaLund says:

    Spielberg’s right…there is a civil war for the sole of the nation. Actually, this has spread beyond the U.S. other countries are battling the same forces, it’s just in the U.S. it is blatant and about to consume us all. Somehow, people have to start taking off the blinders and realize we are all in this together or it will devolve into not only a civil war of ideology but a physical war. Unfortunately, there’s no Abraham Lincoln around to extol us to “bind up our wounds” and “appeal to our better angels.”

  4. Tan says:

    Spielberg blacklisted a then young immature Meghan Fox for using the H word while completely ignoring her valid harassment claims and protected the harasser
    He aint no ally to me.

    Its easier to be an ally while holding hands wirh meryl streep and making semi decent movies with actors

    But if Streep Hanks and this movie steals valid nomination of everyone

    I am canceling the Academy Awards for sure

  5. Odette says:

    Won’t be paying to see this — doesn’t pass the diversity test. Yes, I understand that it’s historical. Still, won’t plunk down hard-earned money for the same faces and lack of diversity.

  6. Luca76 says:

    He’s right and what scares me is we are outgunned by the other side. They are also more zealous.

  7. adastraperaspera says:

    I have to disagree. Polarization is a primary theme of Putin’s disinformation campaign against western liberal democracies. Hence Brexit, Catalonian referendum, Scottish independence, Austrian far right wing party gaining political power, and on and on. Why are all these things happening at the same time? Well, because It is a plot against democracies, and we cannot buy into it. The vast majority of us have far more in common with each other than Americans did between North and South on the eve of the civil war. And there are now even many millions more of us, with a far more diverse racial and ethnic makeup. We share the same economic rules and basic values. The fringe groups of people threatening us all with this nonsense are sponsored and brainwashed by the NRA, Koch Brothers, the Mercers, Evangelicals, etc. And these knaves have allied with Putin to attempt to wrench our unity away from us.

    • DangerMaus says:

      That’s been the strategy from Russia since the USSR days. Once they figured out that you can’t get the workers of the USA to unite against their bosses they just moved towards the next most obvious division. The horrific history around slavery and race.

      That being said…. I don’t see a lot of pro-West/US statements in these comments. It’s called Celebitchy not Celepatriot so that’s understandable. I do wonder if some of the posters here could say one good thing about the USA. Difficulty Level: You can’t use “Whites will soon be a minority.” as the good thing.

  8. JenB says:

    Don’t know that I’ll be paying to see it in the theater but agree with the sentiment. It does feel like a civil war.
    Yesterday I learned that Steve Bannon (general for the new confederacy) is originally from my area of VA and went to the same college. Ewwwww.

  9. curious says:

    Both Assange’s and Snowdon’s actions threatened the US imperial politics worldwide. That is why they were trashed so much that nobody believes them any more nowadays.
    Assange exposed documents about the US’ illegal wars.
    Snowdon exposed documents about the US’ interception of foreign politicians. For example the German chancellor’s mobile phone was wiretapped by the US’ secret services and there is no way to claim Germany was a threat to the US in any way.

    So instead of adopting a more decent political approach worldwide the power elites in the US simply trashed Snowden and Assange so much that nobody believes them any more and that nobody regards their deeds as important any more.