Oliver Stone warns moviegoers about leaving phones on—and not just while watching movies.
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We’re all used to warnings and promos ahead of films, from candy-filled “let’s all go to the lobby” sequences to a polite-yet-firm reminder to power phones off.
Sometimes, those sequences get a cute touch-up (my favorite is probably this wild, vulgar parody from the Aqua Teen Hunger Force film), but starting this week, moviegoers can expect something a little darker—as in, a harrowing warning that sounds like it might have been written by Edward Snowden.
It wasn’t, however.
Instead, the message was written, and is delivered, by Snowden film director and script co-writer Oliver Stone.
The Oscar winner appears in the one-minute clip, seated in a lovely den—complete with decadent furniture and giant bottles of assumedly fine liquors—with a smartphone in his hand. He starts describing the many things “this amazing little device” can do, from mass communication to cat-video streaming (and we’re shown a few kitties briefly to make the point).
“That’s not all it does,” Stone says as the background music turns darker and the camera begins rapidly jumping between angles. “It allows certain parties to track your every move every time you make a call or send a text. We are giving them access.
The information you’ve put out into the world voluntarily is enough to burn your life to the ground.
This will be our undoing.”
After giving credence to anybody who might doubt his “dramatic” statement, Stone turns the statement back to filmgoers who will see his warning at cinemas starting this week: “Do the rest of the people in the audience a big favor: turn off your phone during the movie.” Following that, a narrator insists that filmgoers are “welcome to turn your phone back on after the movie,” then reminds us to expect the film in US theaters on September 16.
Snowden’s promotional statement was sent to Ars by a representative from PR firm Submersive Media, acting on behalf of the film’s production company Open Road Films, which went so far as to say “Oliver Stone would like you to shut off your cell phone during the movie, and then shut it off forever.” That exact quote didn’t make it into this film sequence, however, but based on his statements at this year’s Comic Con, they may very well fit his perspective.
As Stone told conventiongoers in San Diego last month: “Nobody has ever seen, in the history of the world, something like Google, ever. It’s the biggest, new fastest-growing business ever, and they have invested huge amounts of money into what surveillance is, which is data-mining. They’re data-mining every person in this room for information as to what you’re buying, what you like, and above all, your behavior.”
Listing image by Open Road Films