Friday, June 25, 2004

The Culture: Fahrenheit 9/11

I have seen two Michael Moore documentaries; his 1989 “Roger & Me,” his examination of his hometown of Flint, Michigan after General Motors closed an auto-assembly plant, and his 2002 “Bowling for Columbine,” his take on the Littleton school massacre. After each, I felt the need to take a shower. I will not go to see Moore’s latest, “Fahrenheit 9/11.” I will not enrich this man any more then I already have.

Moore’s filmmaking gimmick is simple: ambush your opponent. Catch them off guard, throw them off balance, and then ask the awkward question. Ask the parking lot security guard for General Motors why is GM closing one of its plants. Ask a clerk at a department store why they are selling ammunition that is used to kill innocent children. Corner the CEO of a company on his way to a meeting and ask him about his firm’s layoffs. If you put people who are not used to cameras in an awkward spot, they will say something stupid. Use that footage; no principle of taking an opponent at their best case to limit you here.

Accordingly, Moore’s “Fahrenheit 9/11” will show footage of Bush making verbal gaffs and talk about terrorism while golfing. It will show footage of Moore pestering members of Congress about why their children are not in the Army as they enter their office buildings. It will interview soldiers and the families of those killed in Iraq who disagree with the war. The Bush family is in oil, so is the Bin Laden family—so can’t you see, its all a conspiracy. It will portray people who agree with Moore’s position as thoughtful sages. All others will be shown to be laughable idiots—stupid white men who drag the rest of to the slaughter.

Frenchmen may give Moore twenty minute standing ovations, but there is no hiding that Moore is the Father Coughlin of the left, the artful propagandist. Moore does not confirm facts—every one of his films is riddled with factual errors and false claims. What Moore does is fuel emotions; bitter, hateful emotions targeted at businessmen, at freedoms he disagrees with, and at our nation itself. It is no wonder Hezbollah wants to help distribute Moore’s film in Lebanon—they speak a similar language.

It will be truly fighting if Moore succeeds in defining what 9/11 means to America. Moore has issued a challenge, better than any politician on the scene today. The question is will those who love their lives and their freedom be able to meet it.

UPDATE: Moore is planning an offensive against anyone who disagrees with him:

"We are not going to tolerate anyone trying to smear this film or the things that we're trying to say," the US filmmaker told ABC's "This Week."

[. . .]

Moore senses a conservative backlash and threatened to haul into court anyone who libels him.

"Listen, the right wing -- you got to give them credit -- they are incredible at organizing and attacking.

"And our side of the political fence, for way too many years, has just kind of rolled over and played dead. I'm someone on the liberal, left side of the fence who doesn't do that, and I'm not going to do that," he said. He plans to set up a "war room" of politicos on the ready to answer any attack. [AFP]
It gets even better: a conservative group called "Citizens United" has filed a complaint with the Federal Elections Commission arguing Moore's documentary violates the McCain-Feingold campaign finance act. From what I understand, Citizens United is using its complaint to highlight both Moore and McCain-Feingold, which it considers to be bad law. Heheh. It would be interesting to see what Senators McCain and Feingold have to say about that.

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