Thursday, July 01, 2004

Fahrenheit 9/11 Review

Apparently the words “Michael Moore” are media code words for kicking commentary into bat-shit crazy fecal flinging mode. People who proudly proclaim that they haven’t seen the movie are on the warpath calling Moore un-American, a liar, a hater, a propagandist, a shameless self promoter, etc… There are even campaigns to keep the movie out of theaters.

So is the movie biased, partisan, unfair, and angry? Yes, and enthusiastically so. The movie grabs you and bombards you and manipulates you with a strong narrative story that takes you through a huge amount of documentary evidence and footage interspersed with very powerful personal stories. Like any good movie should, and yes even documentaries. And the movie makes a very strong case that George W Bush is an incompetent president. You may disagree with that conclusion obviously, and there is plenty of room to criticize the movie for the conclusions it draws; for me specifically the insinuation that Bush is a tool of Saudi Arabia. Other than that the movie stays away from conspiracy theories, and there is a large amount of evidence that is very solid and very persuasive. You can’t dismiss the movie without also dismissing all the footage and documents Moore presents. Lila Lipscomb’s personal account of her family’s experiences was particularly devastating. There’s no denying the loss of her son, who died in a Blackhawk helicopter crash, and the grief and anger she feels over it. I don’t know what it is about Moore that makes people open up to him this way and share their feelings, but for me its the greatest thing about his movies.

There’s also the infamous footage of Bush sitting in the class room reading My Pet Goat on September 11th. Its incredible to watch him react for those seven minutes. Other than that, I didn’t see a whole lot that was new to me. If you’re a news junkie there will be lots of familiar bits, like John Ashcroft singing and a simple, (not) easy to use parachute for leaping out of buildings. But some the friends I saw the movie with don’t get past A1 let alone 15 minutes of Dan Rather, and they were definitely surprised at how much they didn’t know. And that’s really the point of the movie. Fahrenheit 9/11 is the super concentrated 2 hour ADD version of the “other sides” story. The one most people never heard. Its biased and partisan because the movie was made by one very opinionated man. Its angry and unfair because the views of this one very opinionated man were ignored and dismissed as objectively pro Sadaam. ABC, CBS, CNN, NBC, Fox, The NY Times, Post, and LA Times, had their chance to give a calmer, more objective and evenhanded voice to the facts Moore presents, but they blew it. And now we have Fahrenheit 9/11.