Director Ramin Bahrani rejected TV critics’ efforts to describe his adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s dystopian ’50s novel Fahrenheit 451 as a condemnation of President Donald Trump.

Blame Google, blame Facebook, blame your smartphone – we’re all culpable, he insisted.

“I don’t want to focus so much on him,” Bahrani said when asked to compare the novel’s infamous book burnings and Trump’s various attacks on the First Amendment. “Because I don’t want to excuse the 30, 40 years prior that that,” Bahrani insisted.

“He’s just an exaggeration of that now,” he said of Trump. “And I don’t want us to forget what Bradbury said:  We asked for this.”

“We are electing this thing in my pocket,” Bahrani said, pulling out his smartphone. “We’re electing to give it all away to this” he said, holding up the phone.

“Between technological advancements and politics, I think Bradbury’s biggest concern is now.”

Premiering in the spring, Bahrani’s adaptation of Bradbury’s cnovel, depicts a time in which media is an opiate, history is outlawed and firemen are the people who burn books. But when Bradbury wrote his book it was set in the distant future; HBO’s adaptation is set in “alternate tomorrow, right here right now,” Bahrani warned.

While the whole book-burning conceit might seem quaint today, because you can always read them on your “super computer in your pocket, Bahrani said, Bradbury’s prophetic themes are, more relevant today.

“It’s not hard to control what is on the internet given that things are so centralized,” he said.

 

Bradbury was very concerned about…Readers Digest, quick short soundbites, destroying the concept of reading, thinking and knowledge, he said.

But tweets and wiki entries are even shorter version of Readers Digest, and “We are all guilty of reading only headlines,” he told the mostly online press in the hall.

“Bradbury said we asked for this. We asked for things to become this way.”

They’re gone, Bahrani said when asked where are the checks and balances.

“We’ve turned it all over to Google, Facebook and the government. We decided we don’t want to have any part in that,” he warned. “We’ve willingly given it up.”

“It is terrifying,” he said.

Michael B. Jordan and Michael Shannon star in the HBO Films presentation – Jordan as fireman Montag, who forsakes his world and battles his mentor, Beatty (Shannon). The cast also includes Sofia Boutella and Lilly Singh. Director/EP Bahrani also co-wrote the script with Amir Naderi. In addition to Bahrani, Sarah Green, Michael B. Jordan, Alan Gasmer, Peter Jaysen exec produce; David Coatsworth produces.

One critic wanted to know how he decided which books to burn in those sequences, and if he picked books that meant a lot to him, entirely missing the point of the novel and of Bahrani.

“We should not distinguish between good and bad books,” he criticized. “If we’re going to save White Heat we should have to save Mein Kampf, right?”