More "Inc:" John Cusack, Part Two

Once you get John started on this Iraq thing he sure has a lot to say. Here's the rest of our conversation, which is kind of an education on recent US foreign policy that you probably haven't heard much about if you stick to the mainstream media and are bugged by the poltical referecnces in "Iron Man" and "You Don't Mess With the Zohan." And he still finds time to talk about Hilary Duff's pants.

PK: Do you think this is the best time to release the movie?  Wasn’t it originally conceived in 2004?

JC:  We conceived of it at the very very height of it,  you know, when the statue fell and Bush was strutting around like a peacock. And people were on podiums telling, we should all watch what we say, and all those kind of threats, those McCarthyite threats.

PK: Around the time the contractors were killed in Fallujah…

J C:  It was right around there.  We had been writing the script for a while. You know, I had been studying a lot of this stuff for a while, talking to as many independent journalists as I could, and getting as much information as I could from all the great heoric journalists out there who really put their lives on the line to get the truth out about this stuff, from Naomi [Klein]  who was over there, to Jeremy Scahill, to the reports in the McClatchy Newspapers to Laura Logan and some other people I knew over there.  And the list goes on and on. But when you realize what they were doing. And you realize they had used 9/11 to foster in kind of this shadow version of the state that’s fully privatized. And when you knew that when Bremer walked in there –  you know we sort of based the look of Hauser [the mercenary played by Cusack] off of Paul Bremer, you know the disaster capitalist, as Naomi called him, with the Brooks Brothers suit and the army boots going around in the helicopters. So these aren’t very subtle facts, and the journalists got it out there that while the place was still burning  he basically by fiat exempted Blackwater from any federal or international law and basically issued orders that all the subsidies of the state could be soldto 100% ownerships by foreign companies.  We basically create a market with war. We make money off of destruction of the place, and we come in take over, make money rebuilding the whole place, and then we preach about the free markets, all the while allowing a complete protectionist racket and then tell the Iraqis that when we’re done you can work here. And then with a straight face we say we’re interested in freedom. I mean the balls of that, the hypocrisy, the lies are so intense it makes your eyes water. So if you know what’s going on over there, and you know that’s what this ideology really is. …and of course this has nothing to do with the soldiers who are being manipulated, the only people who aren’t dirty in this mess are the military’s families and the soldiers who are doing their jobs.  But the companies that are trying to create these new “free markets” with war and then protect them and the mercenaries and you know, its like they’re just gorging off of other people’s land and property, is so immoral.  And the other great thing that people don’t know about this stuff is that we’re paying for all these companies to do this.  They just bill us right at the state department.  So lets say you thought it was okay for Blackwater or Bechtel or any of these companies to do what they’re doing over there, well, we’re paying for it. 

PK: Do you think it would have been a more effective movie if it came out in 2004 or is it more so now?

JC: I think that what’s improtant is that we wanted to make it in 2004 and we started making it, but I think right now, the movie has been done five or six months now, but when even four or five months ago when we had the movie done, the reaction was well, that’s anti-American and we don’t want to show it, you know, we always knew we’d get a polarizing reaction to the movie. But now we’re getting a much more open response to it. 

PK: I’ve been looking at some of the reviews, and you expect a lot of the right wing nuts to kind of come out against it and there were a few of those, but most of these negative reviews were from film critics who… 

JC: Most critics are on the liberal side of things

PK: Do you feel sort of betrayed by that? 

JC: Nope, I thought it was kind of predicatable

PK: Why is that?

JC: Well, we’re talking about a culture in the press mostly. I would say the “New York Times,”for example, I’m a big fan of Bob Herbert and a lot of reporters over there, and there’s a lot of great individual reporters.

PK: They win a lot of Pulitzer Prizes. 

JC: Right, but it’s also a culture that enabled the war for six or seven years, broke all the Judy Miller stuff, didn’t take a really hard stand on any of this stuff for years, and at the end of the greatest foreign policy disaster in the history of the country, it took one of the intellectual architects of the invasion, and gave him a column on the back page, Bill Kristol.

 I wouldn’t expect that culture to get the movie. And also I don’t know if some of the reviewers who reviewed it didn’t really know what’s going in Iraq. I mean some people have said the movie is five years too late.  Do they know anything about what’s going on over there? I’ll tell you this: if you look a the people we have on on myspace, some of the people who have been over there, people who have written books about it. I don’t know if they think it’s five years too late.

PK: I think some of the criticism comes from an aesthetic point of view because I think it’s very hard for a lot of critics to accept films that have drastic changes of tone from real madcap comedy to something th at’s really grim. I mean there’s a scene where you get the amputee Rockettes, it’s a real assault.

JC: We wanted to do that.  We thought it needed to be offensive. If you thought of – this is going to sound insane – when Bob Dylan went electric, he got booed. When Punk Rock came out, the easy listening rock critics didn’t like it. I mean it’s not meant to be cherished in that way. It’s meant to provoke and outrage and it’s a raw low-budget movie. But the tone shifts were intentional, that was something that we liked, which is we wanted it to be kind of disarming and kind of like bit like a fever dream. Whether we liked that our not, fine, but for the critics to suggest that it wasn’t intentional…They don’t have to like it, and they don’t have to get it. But let’s just put it this way, the mainstream media and the power journalists haven’t been right about much in the last 7 years.

PK: That excludes me.

JC: Maybe it does, and as I said I don’t like to paint people into brushes, but I will say it hasn’t b een uniformed, but I wouldn’t expect a movie that’s pretty experimental and out there to be appreciated right away.  And many timesa  piece of art is not understood right when it comes out, but yet the more you look at it, the more you go wait a minute that does have a pulse, that does reflect life a little bit, that does reflect what is going on right now.

PK: It does draw on a lot of tradition films going back to “Doctor Strangelove,” even the Marx Brothers.

JC: Or “Putney Slope,” or any of those types of things that challenge the conventional wisdom and the aristocracy, so that you can’t then be upset that the traditional wisdom doesn’t like it.

PK: So the plans are to release it on the platform basis, and then have it come out on DVD in July? 

JC: No not at all. The plan is that it’s gonna come out boosted up by about 18 or 20 theatres in New York or LA. We still don’t have much of an advertising budget, so it’s completely all viral, what’s been happening. But then they’re gonna go to about 10 new markets in two weeks. And if that keeps going well, then we’ll just keep going with it. So we’re gonna  platform it, and I’m hoping that it will, but we’ve gotten all these people who really really love the movie and are into the cause of making it a viral movie.  And they feel like if we can get this movie out there, we can send a message that we want more of these types of movies. And they wanted to actually get interacted with the film and have meetings afterwards and get people together and have fun with it.

PK: If Bill O’Reilly asked you to appear on his program, would you accept?

JC: What, Bill O’Reilly? 

PK: Yeah

JC: I dunno. I dunno what the point would be but I dunno if he’d really be interested in talking about any of it.

PK: He’d treat you like everyone else;  he’d set you up as a pinata, and then not allow you to respond to any of his abuse.

JC: You know I’m Irish too and I don’t take shit from people.

PK: You could probably take him too. You were a kickboxer right?

JC: That’s right. the only thing is that he’s gotten his teeth kicked in so many times intellectu ally speaking, it’s kind of like kicking someone while he’s down.

PK: It’s kind of like picking on George Bush at this point. 

JC: But that man’s still got a lot of power, and that man’s still getting people killed.

PK: Well there’s always Iran. He can still go after them.. 

JC: My only point with this is that I’m hoping that well-meaning Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, anyone with a shred of patriotism in their body, will band together to disgrace, mock, and shame this ideology, but also it’s important that they be held accountable, you know, because if they’re not, I just don’t know what the future of the country is because it means, well, the constitution and the laws don’t mean anything if the Democrats are close to getting power. So because Pelosi takes impeachment off the table, so that means we may get the White House back, the rule of law doesn’t matter?

PK: I think impeachment has been off the table since Nixon got off the hook for Watergate.

JC: Yeah, but I think that’s a disaster.

PK: Definitely. But this is what my readers what my readers are interested in. Is it true that you dropped a scorpion down Hilary Duff’s pants?

JC: She dropped it down her own pants. 

PK: How is that possible?

JC: I dunno, there wasn’t any law against it in Bulgaria [where the film was shot], and Hilary read the script and she knew she wanted to do it.  She’s really game.  She’s  like a pretty spirited wild-woman. She’s pretty great. 

PK: Was that an allusion to"The Wild Bunch?" 

JC: I don’t think we probably thought of it, but I’m sure it was in some way.

PK: I guess my question is, how do you avoid getting stung? 

JC: Well there’s a scorpion wrangler in Bulgaria, which is a good job if you think how many scorpion wranglers could there be in Bulgaria. He’s probably got the market cornered there. But he had these scorpions and he took off the poison stinger, or he somehow neutralized the poison stinger, and Hilary put that scorpion down her pants.



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