A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Get Me Roger Stone is a 2017 Netflix Original documentary that profiles cynical long-time Republican political operative Roger Stone, a successful lobbyist and consultant who proudly tells stories of using deceit to undermine foes and bolster clients. He takes credit for the invention of Donald Trump as presidential candidate and some for helping hand the 2000 election to George W. Bush over Al Gore and, along with other boasts, gives someone the finger, curses ("f--k," "s--t," and more), smokes cigars, and drinks martinis. While running Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole's campaign, Stone denied and later admitted placing ads in "swinger" magazines seeking "muscular, well hung single males" for sex with himself and his wife. Stone compares Bill Cosby's alleged drugging and raping more than 50 women with Bill Clinton's serial adultery. Stone calls Clinton a "rapist." Copulating with a rodent is mentioned. Stone marches in a 2010 Gay Pride parade and is booed. He poses with a nearly topless woman who licks the side of his face. Stone says that he "was trying to lay" someone at a party. On Twitter, Stone calls a CNN analyst a "fat" and "stupid negro," suggesting he was hired as a "token." It's unlikely that parents, whether Republican or Democrat, will view him as a role model of either decency or moral behavior.
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What's the story?
GET ME ROGER STONE is a timely profile of the 64-year-old Republican political operative and self-described "dirty trickster," Roger Stone. Stone likes to suggest that he created the political being Donald Trump. The filmmakers counter-suggest that not all of Stone's claims, about himself or about others, are necessarily trustworthy. Stone says he recognized in the young and rich real estate developer, who was a Stone client for decades, a "prime piece of political horseflesh," and he first pushed Trump to run for president back in the 1980s. Trump returns the high regard here, praising Stone as someone who “always likes to take on somebody that at least has a good chance of winning.” Paul Manafort, Stone's former lobbyist partner and former head of the Trump campaign, says, "It's hard to define what's Roger and what's Donald [Trump]," adding that Trump was "engineered by Roger," and that Stone has had "as much of an influence on the [Trump] campaign as anyone." Stone reports that he helped maneuver the firing of Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and suggested replacing him with Manafort, who is now under FBI investigation for his ties to Russia. Stone notes that he's long recognized "the value of misinformation" and the similarity between politics and entertainment: "Politics is show biz for ugly people."
Is it any good?
To the filmmakers' credit, you may come away from this movie feeling like you need a hot shower, as simply being in Stone's presence, even just digitally, might make you feel soiled. "Those who say I have no soul, I have no principles, are losers," Stone explains. Sporting a series of meticulous hairpieces and spouting his win-at-any-cost philosophy, Stone resembles the villain of a superhero movie. The audience might wonder what will save us from the likes of him, but identifying a problem is the first step toward a solution, which is why Get Me Roger Stone should be required viewing by Democrats and Republicans alike. One of the filmmakers asks Stone what message he has for viewers "who will loathe you as the credits roll." Stone doesn't hesitate: "I revel in your hatred because if I weren't effective, you wouldn't hate me." This is the kind of misdirection he excels at. It's not his effectiveness that triggers antagonism. More likely, if he is hated, it will be because he values winning over decency.
Stone has long associated himself with slinging slime against "enemies," including news of then New York governor Eliot Spitzer's prostitute habit and rumors about presidential candidate Pat Buchanan and an illegitimate child. It seems fitting that a sex scandal also laid Stone low in 1996 when he worked on Bob Dole's unsuccessful Republican presidential bid. Stone argues that he is a private person whose private life is nobody's business. "Even if Donald Trump loses, I still win because the Stone brand of politics is front and center." Surely, if it is his politics we are living with, then his private proclivities are fair game. Stone loves to work a crowd but he's probably canny enough to recognize that with the hairpieces, the two-tone wing tips, and his penchant for dropping his shirt to show off the Nixon tattoo on his back that he's a little too slick, a little too flamboyant, a little too weird to be accepted in the role of candidate by the "non-sophisticates" and "non-elitists" he has been handling for the last 40 years. In a 2008 New Yorker profile he declared, "I'm a Libertarian and a libertine." Stone is no doubt aware that, so far, voters have never knowingly elected either.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why deceit and dirty tricks in politics have been so effective for so many decades. Stone says that hate is a greater motivator than love in politics so he advises clients to use hate. Do you agree? Why or why not?
Stone describes using lies and deception to gain power and money, and says that he's proud of his strategies. How do you feel about people who are proud of cheating? Do cheaters ever win?
Do you think that people with money and wealthy corporations should have more say about how things work in the United States than people who don't have money?
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