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