Front Page















Nostalgic for Stalin
April 4, 2005

By James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.
contributor to

When he was alive, the notorious dictator Joe Stalin had a jones for Hollywood.

He actually understood celebrity power, so much so that he once tried to have legendary actor John Wayne knocked off because of Wayne's antipathy toward communism.

I imagine Stalin would have been elated with the fawning that's been going on over him and his Bolshevik bros, Fidel Castro and Che Guevara, by some of today's Hollywood stars.

The truth is, though, in the 1930s Stalin used sham trials to force his political enemies to testify against themselves.

A while back, Warner Brothers made a film, and it wasn't about the evils of Stalin. Rather, it was a whitewashed depiction of the despot. The movie was based on a book called "Mission to Moscow," in which the show trials of Stalin's opponents were portrayed as noble acts designed to thwart traitors.

A few years ago Ed Asner had this to say about Stalin: "I think Joe Stalin was a guy that was hugely misunderstood." Asner added that "to this day, I don't think I have ever seen an adequate job done of telling the story of Joe Stalin."

When we fast-forward to today, we see that there is a growing segment of Russians who are developing a Hollywood-style fondness for Joe.

In early 2005, debates were held in Moscow as to whether a statue would be constructed for the dictator.

Russian bookstores typically tout political biographies of him, the majority of which portray the tyrant in a positive light.

There's also a Russian resurgence of interest in Soviet songs, as well as movies from the Soviet era. The Russian national anthem was personally approved by Stalin himself.

And Stalin's grave, situated next to Lenin's tomb, is a place where mounds of fresh flowers turn up on the dictator's birthday and on key anniversaries.

It wasn't that long ago, too, that Hollywood showered another ignoble figure with some cinematic attention - Che Guevara.

Robert Redford made a flick about Guevara called "The Motorcycle Diaries" and was rewarded for the effort. The movie received gobs of praise and even took home a Best Song Oscar for its hero worship of a young Guevara.

Apparently, Steven Soderbergh actually plans to begin shooting "an epic about Argentine revolutionary Che Guevara," who, according to a statement on the Internet Movie Database, "fought for the people." The movie will purportedly star Benicio del Toro, who also played a character in Soderbergh's drug-running tale "Traffic." Perhaps there's a market out there for the Stalin push, Asner pap, Redford bilge and the like, at one of Hollywood's favorite nostalgia spots - the Kremlin.

Reproduced with the permission of . All rights reserved

Copyright © 2005
James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.

All Rights Reserved