The Story of Fahrenheit 9/11

Finally, Michael Moore’s controversial Fahrenheit 9/11 arrived in European theaters.

Although I had high expectations, I didn’t know what exactly to expect. Having read a few reviews and comments on various places, it was clear that this movie made emotions run high.

A good friend of mine told me that upon seeing it, he didn’t understand what all the fuss was about. While the film was a lot to digest, that’s one of the points that definitely got across: that guy there reading “My Pet Goat”, that’s your president!

The Movie

Fahrenheit opens on the White House broadcast set the night Bush would ask Saddam Hussein to leave the country within 48 hours. We see Bush preparing for the speech, joking at times. ..

It didn’t take me 5 minutes to realize Michael Moores message and bias towards Bush, and when the film well reached the title, I knew that this would be different from anything I had seen before.

Michael Moore then slowly started to build up his offense against Bush and his last 4 years as President of the United States. Behind a curtain of black, we are reminded of the tragedy that happened on the 11th of september. We see how Bush read “My Pet Goat” when he should have been elsewhere, and how the Bin Laden family was transported out of the US without questioning.

Michael then proceeds to add layer upon layer of arguments to the pile. Afghanistan was attacked by too few troops because the real focus was on Iraq. Oil companies held meetings on how much money they could earn “rebuilding Iraq”. We saw soldiers who attacked Baghdad with “The Roof Is On Fire” hooked to their tanks CD player. We saw the treatment of Iraqi prisoners the killing of civilians, the dragging of burnt corpses, the beheading of kidnapped civilians. My stomach was churning and I was more scared than I’ve been at any other movie before. Cut to Britney Spears saying she thinks we should just trust that the president knows what he’s doing. Ouch. I didn’t really know whether to laugh or cry, but I sure wished that it wasn’t true.

Unfortunately, it is true, and Michael Moore is far from finished. Before we see the end of the movie, we visit the real people, that fought and died for Bush. We meet their families and hear their stories. When the film finally did end, I was shaken like never before. It was not the bloody violence or visuals of the movie; I had seen bloodier gore in “Kill Bill”, I had seen better action sequences in “Star Wars”, and I had seen better acting in “Plan 9 From Outer Space”.

It was the fact that the footage was real. The simple fact that probably also caused the spurr of controversy.

Truths, half-truths and fallacies

As mentioned, I had read about Fahrenheit 911 prior to seeing it. What caught my attention, was the effort that was put into proving Michael Moore wrong. It seems that a great bulk of people, not only those who support Bush, simply dismiss the movie because it’s supposedly riddled with falsehoods and half truths.

i_want_to_believe

If only it was that simple. It seems to me, that people want to believe that it is all false. They want to believe that none of the terrible things they just saw, actually happened.

I don’t blame anyone. I sure as hell would sleep better at night, had I not seen the bombing of Hiroshima on video, the burning monk or the napalm-burnt little girl on that road in Vietnam. But dismissing it on grounds of a few wrong facts and an at times bent truth is not going to make it all go away. Bad things happened, whether Michael Moore communicates it correctly or not. That much is clear.

Propaganda vs. Documentarism

…A few wrong facts and bent truths. I read about the inaccuracies of Bowling for Columbine, and was annoyed at Michael Moore because of it. If there are inaccurate facts in Fahrenheit, it will deter from my fascination with the film. Not because I don’t like Michael Moore, quite the opposite.

When people feel that they, or their culture is being attacked, they immediately try and fight back. If they find as much as one fact they can prove wrong, it’ll immediately be used to their advantage. In this case, the message is so important to get across, that the price of factual errors is high. As such, I so hope that Michael Moore has his part covered.

But those who claim that Fahrenheit 9/11 is not a documentary simply because Michael Moore is biased and opinionated, are plainly wrong; the definition of the word “documentary” clearly states:

“A non-fiction film which usually, although not always, has a particular point of view regarding its subject matter; ” – Source

With this said, Michael Moore is indeed very demagogic in his narration of the story. He uses what almost constitutes as emotional porn to get his point across. In fact, some of the techniques used can be attributed as propaganda. The main difference from actual propaganda is, that I had to, and willingly paid 70 kronor (equivalent of ~10US$) to see it.

Thoughts

Leaving the theater with the message still pulsing in my veins, I was thinking about the past 4 years, and how different the world is today. I was against the war, yet it came. Many civil liberties have been removed with the Patriot Act, and terrorism is being used as a political tool. Soldiers are dying every day, civilians are being kidnapped and decapitated…

… and Bush is talking about gay marriages!?

What is this world coming to?

I read George Orwells 1984 in school. In the book, three factions, Britain and the US, Eurasia, and Oceania are at constant war. The people are being monitored, and aren’t allowed to express themselves. Big Brother is watching their every move.

When I read it, I thought Orwell was overreacting. As it turns out he was only wrong by 20 years.

With Fahrenheit 9/11 I feel that someone has finally voiced my opinion. Michael Moore is what Goldstein was in 1984: the rebel leader. He dares cross the regime and tell the truth. For that, I applaud him.

When Michael Moore again wins the Oscar for best documentary, I’ll applaud him.

Because even if Bush wins again, I’ll know that I am not alone.

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References

12 thoughts on “The Story of Fahrenheit 9/11”

  1. Michael says:

    My only complaint with F911 is that it didn’t pound on Bush for another couple of hours. Dammit, I was enjoying it so much!

    So much in fact, that I told Rikke today, that I didn’t feel that I could really write a professional review of the movie, because I want Bush to get shitkicked so bad, that I want everyone to see and agree with this movie…

    And I swear, if Bush gets re-elected… The world will go straight to hell.

  2. Joen says:

    My only complaint with F911 is that it didn?t pound on Bush for another couple of hours. Dammit, I was enjoying it so much!

    Indeed. I thought the same thing, but then I remembered that even if only 10% of the movie is true, that’s a pretty bad thing…

    So much in fact, that I told Rikke today, that I didn?t feel that I could really write a professional review of the movie, because I want Bush to get shitkicked so bad, that I want everyone to see and agree with this movie?

    Indeed. I’m afraid my review isn’t entirely professional either, but with that said, I still felt it was important to voice my support for Moore, now that he’s being attacked from all sides.

  3. Ihad says:

    the trouble is that people who go see this most likely do not need to be educated and those who go see it just so they can bad mouth Moore’s propaganda tactics won’t be taught by a million documentaries.

    One thing I did find problematic is that for a document it is driven by Moore’s very emotional quest to axe Bush which results at times in rather propagandistic if not counter productive moments. But that’s Moore.

    Half truths and bent facts also are Moore typical that doesn’t mean – as you said – that there’s no issue here to be remedied. There’s people in my immediate vicinity who will NOT go see this movie because they are pro Bush and dismiss Moore entirely, they know it’s just “lies” and will not waste their time watching such a pile of “crap”. These are educated people with a masters degree in science and what not. Some things will never change.

    Although I fear it’s not Bush that should concern us but those who control him and you well know monkeys are easily controllable…

    Who will be the next monkey? Kelly? Seems to be less of a monkey? Wait and see. Don’t forget the golden rule… Whoever has the gold, makes the rules.

    All in all a must see, provided you have the brains to “see” it for what it is.

    » my review at imdb:

    http://imdb.com/user/ur0834910/comments

  4. gareth says:

    Hi Joen, been a huge fan of your work since turtleshell.

    On topic:

    Unfortunately I feel Moore does more damage than good for the very noble cause of the Anti- Bush protester. He simply carries no credibility. His super powers are tunnel vision and blind faith. In many ways he is the blind leading the blind. If only he allowed some other narrative into his films I could sit in the cinema without cursing the crime of letting slip the chance of effective, alternative debate.

    “Bad things happened, whether Michael Moore communicates it correctly or not. That much is clear”

    The problem with this is that what Moore is doing is manipulating and forging an almost hyper reality, in true Hollywood fashion he attempts to rewrite history, smoke screen the truth by sensationalism and absurd juxtaposition. The only difference to other blockbuster films is that he makes no attempt to hide the propaganda.

    I truly wish he was not a stupid white man who charges ?30000 for a lecture and denies his employees essential rights, all the while beating the drum of the common man until his ears are bleeding with half truths, falsehoods and plain devastating lies. Quite simply I want credibility.

    Just as a side note: have you read George Orwells`s quite brilliant 1984 as a mans struggle to come to terms with death? He was dying as he wrote it and died shortly after he finished. I am well aware that it deals with many issues; religion, power, media, reality etc but I think it is interesting to re-read with this in mind.

    Cheers,

    Gareth

  5. Joen says:

    Ihad, you have some good comments, and indeed Moore does seem to be “preaching to the choir”. While I certainly truly believe this is also the case, Michael Moore claimed on Jay Leno, that polls showed that all the “undecided voters” that saw the movie had well decided upon “a candidate” once they left the movie theater. If this is true, then it may very well affect the election.

    While I still truly believe, that if you take away all of Michael Moores personal opinion and bias, you’ll still end up with a bulk of true facts that are disturbing. But your point that this will scare away certain demographics from seeing the movie is valid. The question here is, whether these viewers would have seen the movie had it been any different than it is now.

    Gareth,

    Thanks for your comments, I appreciate it. On to the topic 🙂

    I don’t think Michael Moore hurts the anti-Bush “movement”. It really comes down to the eye of the beholder. Moore touches a very sensitive topic, namely critique of the elected (or was he?) president of the United States. No doubt this will catch the attention of not only those who support him, but even those who do not.

    The fact that Michael Moore shows his own opinion, and cuts his movie together to punch his message right in our faces is his own decision. It’s his movie, and as long as he doesn’t lie, then the medium of the documentary allows him to do pretty much what ever he wants. Don’t forget that Michael doesn’t force you into the theater to see his movie, in fact he asks you to pay him for it. Surely that’s not an attribute of propaganda, is it?

    Whether Michael Moore lies or not, is another discussion, one that I find very interesting. Indeed if there are genuine falsehoods in the film (I mean straight lies), as mentioned in the article it will deter from the film, hands down.

    As for your 1984 note, no, I did not know that. I remember having a hard time getting through the book because I wanted to understand it, but it was a pretty tough piece of literature for a 9th grader (I thought). I will definately read it again, with this in mind!

  6. gareth says:

    Hi,

    I guess that at least Moore, for good or for bad, brings the debate to the wider population.

    i think 1984 is a book (my favourite in fact) which can be read multiple times. You can read it so many different ways and on many levels. If as a 9th grader all you got was a taste of the gritty world he depicts, than that?s pretty damn cool.

    cheers,

    Gareth

  7. Joen says:

    Exactly. Debate will always be healthy.

    As for 1984, I will re-read it soon—you definately spawned my interest. I think I was pretty dystopic at that time in the 9th grade, so the theme fit me well.

    I also read Brave New World by Huxley. In many ways, I liked it much more, mainly because the general theme of the book was more believable, i.e. that people would be subdued by a drug rather than oppression.

    When I later went on to study behaviourism, I often thought back to both 1984 and BNW and compared their respective views on behavioural control. One book (1984) punished for wrong behaviour, whilst the other rewarded for correct behaviour. The latter, being the payment of salaries in Soma—the mind-numbing/euphoric drug from BNW.

    It’s funny how todays society can be compared to both books. In a way, many civil liberties are being tread upon, and people are being punished like never before. At the same time we’ve become an indifferent prozac nation. Irony is indeed bitter.

  8. daniel says:

    Why do people desire to believe lies?

    If we don’t seek the truth, God will leave us to be deluded…

    BTW, Binary Bonsai erased my similar comment on his blog.

  9. Joen says:

    I’m sure he deleted comment because he didn’t write this article. Thus, your comment was out of place.

    You ask why people desire to believe lies. Did you even read the passage next to the “I want to believe” poster? And is it not you yourself who desire to believe lies? You link(ed) to a place called “Time of Trouble”, a site that forebodes the end of the world quoting bible passages. These religious scare tactics have no place in this already messed up world, and I don’t want to support the site by allowing you to link to it either.

  10. gareth says:

    Hi,

    Brave New World has been a glaring admission on my too read list for quite sometime, looking on eBay for a copy now.

    It distress?s me that you should think that today?s world has anything in common with the dystopia of 1984. I think in today?s society Orwell?s world can only ever be rendered within the constraints of the mind. We are as free as we ever were; I know I certainly enjoy more liberty than the other generations in my family had at my age. Freedom to me is not deeply political or even complicated; it?s about the right to live in a way which makes me content. It?s about being able to jump on a plane for next to nothing, type what I want to type, choose any job I want to do, and perhaps most importantly being able to receive an education. The only boundary that I see presented to me is decency, if I do not cross this than I am as free as anyone.

    cheers,

    Gareth

  11. I just saw it last night.

    My biggest gripe with the movie was the fact that all the people who I was supposed feel sorry. They were constantly spouting god-talk which never does anything to endear me to people.

  12. Joen says:

    Gareth, if you haven’t read Brave New World, you definately should. As mentioned, I enjoyed it much more than 1984 and even Fahrenheit 451 for that matter.

    When I say that I think todays society is comparable to an orwellian dystopia, I am exaggerating to get my point across. While it certainly isn’t as bad as in the book, there are obvious parallels, parallels that are painfully ironic compared to the events of the book.

    For instance, Orwell argues that the purpose of war is not necessarily to win, rather to wage a continuous war because when people are afraid, they’ll “cope” under even the worst of circumstances.

    Even better (for the government), those who do not agree with the politics of the moment, will be called traitors and liars.

    The Patriot act (as mentioned), stomps on civil liberties and allows for searches without a search warrant. This is definately a step towards a society where ones every move can be watched by the government.

    So the parallels are there, but indeed I did exaggerate to get my point across. With this said, I am enjoying my freedom of speech.

    Brian, indeed that annoyed me too. Religion and politics, do not match. Never have, never will.

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