Hey, it's John Cusack. I'm here talk to about Freedom of the Press Foundation, among other things. Ask me anything.
Feb 27th 2013 by johncusackFPF • 23 Questions • 2753 Points
Hey Reddit, I’m John Cusack. I make films and we can talk about that if you like, but I’m also on the board of directors of a new organization called Freedom of the Press Foundation. My fellow board members include legendary whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, writers Glenn Greenwald and Xeni Jardin, award-winning documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras, and EFF co-founder John Perry Barlow.
We all came together in December to try to start a broad movement to help protect and defend the First Amendment, given secrecy is at an all time high and whistleblowers have never been under greater attack. I wrote about it for Huffington Post here. You can also read the two talks I did with leading free speech law professor Jonathan Turley and Kevin McCabe here and here.
Back in 2010, WikiLeaks was cut-off from payment processors despite committing no crime, after unofficial pressure from a couple Congressman. We wanted to make sure that doesn’t happen to another journalism organization again, but we also wanted to help other organizations bring transparency to government.
So, we’re taking donations to WikiLeaks, but also supporting three other innovative organizations, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, Truthout, and Public Integrity.
They each have a specific secrecy-busting project on US drone strikes, the Guantanamo trials, and US defense spending that your money will fund. And every two months, we're going to support a new bundle of organizations similar to these. You can go to our website and donate to any or all of these organizations here: https://pressfreedomfoundation.org
So hopefully you donate. But whether or not you do, spread the word around and read and support these organizations that are doing such important work. Obviously everyone can't afford to donate, but awareness and knowledge is just as important.
Ask me anything though.
UPDATE: Thanks Reddit this was great fun...I hope to do it again. Follow me on twitter @johncusack. I'll be back soon if you'd like!
What's your preferred source(s) for real/informative news on the Internet?
any of the orgs we support.. really like truth-out on a daily basis..democracy now.. lots of great places
We are both in it now. With Freedom of the Press Foundation, we're on the front lines of politics, bringing transparency to government. https://pressfreedomfoundation.org
You don't necessarily to run for office to make a difference. Activism of all kinds is just as important.
When Dan Akroyd yells "POPCORN!" in Grosse Pointe Blank... improvised or scripted?
Love your work, man! Keep it up!
Danny does what he wants - improv! I'm a smart enough writer to get out of the way of a comic genius
You got to spend some time with a personal hero of mine, Hunter S Thompson. Can you tell me any crazy stories from the time you spent with him or anything he said to you that really stuck with you?
I spent many many late nights on phone with Hunter through Clinton and Bush years...
Here were his thoughts on the Iraq war Bush & company started:
"We have become a Nazi monster in the eyes of the whole world -- a nation of bullies and bastards who would rather kill than live peacefully. We are not just Whores for power and oil, but killer whores with hate and fear in our hearts. We are human scum, and that is how history will judge us. No redeeming social value. Just whores. Get out of our way, or we'll kill you. "Well, shit on that dumbness, George W. Bush does not speak for me or my son or my mother or my friends or the people I respect in this world. We didn't vote for these cheap, greedy little killers who speak for America today -- and we will not vote for them again in 2002. Or 2004. Or ever. "Who does vote for these dishonest shitheads? Who among us can be happy and proud of having all this innocent blood on our hands? Who are these swine? These flag-sucking half-wits who get fleeced and fooled by stupid rich kids like George Bush? "They are the same ones who wanted to have Muhammad Ali locked up for refusing to kill gooks. They speak for all that is cruel and stupid and vicious in the American character. They are the racists and hate mongers among us -- they are the Ku Klux Klan. I piss down the throats of these Nazis. And I am too old to worry about whether they like it or not. Fuck them."
HST didn't mince words.
I can only imagine what he would say about the expanded drone wars, or what he would make of the knowledge that Obama has overseen a fundamental extension of a vast array of Bush/Cheney executive privilege claims - or in many cases outdone them in ways that gut international law and our constitutional rights. I wonder how he would write about unchecked greed of wall street - and the bought and paid for government response - when the moral obligations of government declined and fiduciary responsibilities of elected officials were totally overtaken by rampant greed...
Here's a link to something I wrote a week after his death:
Hey Mr. Cusack! HUGE fan, I may or may not be slightly in love with you =] My question is do you think the government already censors the media, and should they have any say in what is shown/not shown? Also, what is you opinion of Bradley Manning's whistle-blowing incident to Wikileaks? I personally support wikileaks, but I would be curious as to your opinion? Thank you so much for your time, and stay awesome and handsome!
Basically, we should be supporting any and all organziations that bring transparency to government. Check out our website and some of these amazing organizations we're supporting: https://pressfreedomfoundation.org
What initially compelled your interest in press freedom and issues re: government transparency? Any specific issue or has it always been an important cause to you?
I came in here seeking the inside scoop from a pretty great actor and I'm pleasantly surprised to learn about your involvement with the foundation and these other groups.
History and art -- my parents -- film, theater, authors-- art can be a mirror that reflects back society -- or perhaps even collective dream we all have. But also, as Brecht said, "Art is not a mirror held up to reality but a hammer with which to shape it."
What limitations on free speech do you think are fair? In other words, what is the modern equivalent of shouting fire in a theater?
Let me link to this piece by my friend and fellow board member Trevor Timm, which answers the question about 'fire in a crowded theater' http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2012/11/its-time-to-stop-using-the-fire-in-a-crowded-theater-quote/264449/
What do you think the ramifications of Drones have not only on the USA but how the world views us?
You can read my interviews with law professor Jonathan Turley on this:
Many of these questions can't be answered briefly...
I enjoyed War Inc.
Can we expect to see more work from you along those lines in the coming years?
Boy it's hard in this climate to raise money for films that don't make people feel good about the US WAR machine. I think people like art that politically feels like comfort food..May be good going down but ultimately makes you sick later...
Speaking of art, and films, and what not, I was REALLY psyched to see that MAX is on Amazon Prime Instant Videos. I have always wanted to see it, so it's on my watchlist now.
watch max! there's a great book also called "rites of spring the great war and the birth of the modern age" by morris eckstein that is incredible .. http://www.nytimes.com/1989/03/13/books/books-of-the-times-modernism-rites-of-spring-rites-of-destruction.html http://www.amazon.com/Max-John-Cusack/dp/B00008K77D
I follow you on twitter. You have been pretty critical of Obama. What current politicians do you admire?
Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Alan Grayson, to name a few.
I've heard that you hated filming "Better Off Dead." Any particular reason why?
No, I just thought it could have been better but I think that about almost all my films. I have nothing against the film...Glad people love it still.
Hey Mr. Cusack, I'd really love to know your take on this..
You recently wrote an article in The Huffington Post in which you mentioned "...it's up to the public to bring transparency to the government, if the government won't bring it to us." It's my understanding that you meant that on terms of donations but what do you think are other ways we, the public, can bring transparency to the government? Better yet, how do you view groups like Anonymous, being that Anons are huge supporters of WikiLeaks and retaliate against censorship in the media?
In general I would encourage redditors to get involved offline as well as online encourage them to do something, join our foundation, join a diff org, or just join their friend or neighbor in speaking out against what they believe is wrong and speaking up for what they believe is right. the world is changing at a dizzying pace and with that is opportunity I would want people to believe in themselves and have confidence in their abilities to make a difference in the world, with that, I think any human being is unstoppable, especially a brilliant kid with low self esteem. Free press, net freedom, war profiteering is a crime, drones are criminal, releasing bradley manning, more art everywhere etc...whatever you believe take some action...it's tempting to just be depressed..but it feels better to speak your truth..
I love this quote - it says it all to me - by the great author Arundhati Roy:
“Our strategy should be not only to confront empire, but to lay siege to it. To deprive it of oxygen. To shame it. To mock it. With our art, our music, our literature, our stubbornness, our joy, our brilliance, our sheer relentlessness – and our ability to tell our own stories. Stories that are different from the ones we’re being brainwashed to believe.
The corporate revolution will collapse if we refuse to buy what they are selling – their ideas, their version of history, their wars, their weapons, their notion of inevitability.
Remember this: We be many and they be few. They need us more than we need them.
Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.”
If you were to dramatically lift a boom box over your head in this current year, what song would it be playing?
ok - this is a dumb answer, but given the context of here, how about Gil Scott-Heron's "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised" -- and for those who tire of these horrid politics -- William Prince Bonny and Superwolf's " Beast for Thee"
not a top five guy weirdly..too many to choose
What, if anything, can be done about the lack of journalistic integrity in the most popular "news" shows, such as those on Fox News and MSNBC, which present such a partisan view of current events as to be entertainment?
How can the public be educated to discern the difference between "news entertainment" and bona fide journalism?
One great person to read on the subject of the partisan views of Fox News and MSNBC is fellow Freedom of the Press board member and general badass Glenn Greenwald. His blog is here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/series/glenn-greenwald-security-liberty
What can we do...well, we can support organizations that don't bend to partisan views, like the orgs we're supporting: WikiLeaks, Truthout, Bureau of Investigative Journalism, and Center for Public Integrity. Along with our first bundle of organizations MuckRock, National Security Archives, and the UpTake.
Descriptions of them all are here: https://pressfreedomfoundation.org/organizations
Hello Mr.Cusack!:) Big fan of your work and love your movies:) But just had a actor question:) What is one actor or actors you would like to really work with in the future?
There are so many great ones and I've been so lucky - but lets see - Denzel Washington would be great. Just got to work with Robert De Niro which was a joy...
Freedom of the Press Foundation is supporting WikiLeaks (among others) very publicly. Does the potential for retribution from the protectors of the status quo ever give cause for concern?
I am interested in movements. We need a movement protecting the 1st Amendment and support it's broadest reach. If there is an individual whose rights are being violated, that means my rights are being violated—maybe not now but down the road...What happened to Aaron Swartz was tragic and arguably criminal...but remember, we be many, they be few...
Oh my god. John Cusack, you are one of my favorite, all time actors. I still own your Movie "Room 1408" and probably watch it 12-14 times a year. I know over a year it sounds small, but I've seen that movie over 70 times, and I watch it whenever I see it on TV, so that's actually higher then said.
Anyways, I have a question for you. How did you get into acting? Do you enjoy the liberties of being an actor both in life and on stage (for example, having the name credit to support charities)?
Additionally, and most importantly for me, what was it like shooting for Room 1408, which is, and probably will be one of my top 10 psychological horrors for a long, long time.
I'm happy to see you in the community, and thank you for your response (if I get one, that is... I've probably drowned in the questions by now).
thanks stephen king is a great writer to work with.. doing a version of cell with war inc writer mark leyner.. it should be another mind bender! to speak to your second question. it feels better to use whatever recognition i get in causes i believe in and to speak out what i believe...it always feels good to be of service in some small way.. on some level i just do it to sleep better at night.. but i'm also an eternal optimist in some ways- i really believe things can turn for the better when people become less passive and engage..
shit i hope so!
You are a big fan of ska music. I can't help but notice that you dress like Walt Jabsco in almost all of your films. Coincidence?
Who the hell is WALT JABSCO? Maybe I am and don't even know it!!