Two years after they discussed gay men in showers, veteran filmmaker Oliver Stone and Russian President Vladimir Putin have reunited — this time to talk about how “sensible” the anti-LGBTQ laws are in Russia.
The two followed up on their 2017 multiple-part Showtime series dubbed “The Putin Interviews” with a fresh, wide-ranging discussion at the Kremlin on June 19. According to a transcript of the discussion released by the Kremlin on July 19, the pair touched on the United States, Russia’s relations with Ukraine, and other international affairs, but not before Stone delved into criticism about the state of society these days.
Stone, 72, ranted about how young people in America are “different” and “are spoiled to some degree in the Western world.” He then started talking about his feelings surrounding American culture, saying that he is “shocked” by the behaviors of the new generation.
“And so much of the argument, so much of the thinking, so much of the newspaper, television commentaries about gender, people identify themselves, and social media, this and that, I’m male, I’m female, I’m transgender, I’m cisgender,” Stone said. “It goes on forever, and there is a big fight about who is who. It seems like we miss the bigger point.”
How exactly being transgender is missing “the bigger point” is left to the imagination, but Stone then segued into Russia’s notorious law banning LGBTQ-related materials from being distributed to children, which has been a slippery slope in that nation’s broader crackdown on queer rights and visibility even when children are not involved.
Referring to the law, Stone said, “You said that in Russia we don’t propagate it.”
“Not exactly,” Putin responded before employing his usual defense of the law. “We have a law banning propaganda among minors.”
Stone replied, “Yes, that’s the one I’m talking about. It seems like maybe that’s a sensible law.”
Putin then claimed the law is “aimed at allowing people to reach maturity and then decide who they are and how they want to live. There are no restrictions at all after this.”
Putin’s claim of “no restrictions” contradicts reality in Russia, where LGBTQ people in recent years have been barred from merely holding Pride celebrations and have faced various forms of persecution in their daily lives — especially since the implementation of the anti-LGBTQ law. Horrific videos of gay men being tortured, posted online by their tormentors, have from time to time surfaced. This month, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Russia had violated the rights of three LGBTQ organizations that were not allowed to register officially because of the law regarding minors.
The dialogue between the two men marked a continuation of the conversation they held as part of “The Putin Interviews” in recent years. In that series, Putin told Stone some of the same things — that “there are no restrictions whatsoever” on gay folks in Russia — and then, when asked if he would shower with gay men, the Russian leader suggested that he wouldn’t be afraid to use his martial arts skills against gay men in the shower.
“Well, I prefer not to go to the shower with him,” Putin said. “Why provoke him? But you know, I’m a judo master.”
Stone is the director of films including “Natural Born Killers,” “Nixon,” and “JFK.” In his 1991 “JFK,” Stone gave credence to the theory that Clay Shaw, a gay New Orleans businessman — whose homosexuality was highlighted in the film — was part of a conspiracy behind the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Shaw was acquitted of charges brought against him by the New Orleans district attorney in 1969, with the jury taking just an hour to reach its verdict.