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Fahrenheit 9/11

george-w-bush.jpgI went with Arion last night to see Fahrenheit 9/11. I've previously seen only Bowling for Columbine and read some background information on both BfC and F911.

One thing is now clear: Michael Moore does not produce documentaries. He produces a movie, granted, but calling either of these movies documentaries - and awarding him an Emmy Oscar in that category - is ridiculous. These aren't documentaries: they're 2-hour infomercials. F911 seemed to follow the same formula as BfC:

  1. Start with an interesting little vignette.
  2. Segue into fast-fact mode where lots of facts are intercut with out-of-place footage of "the bad guys" looking stupid.
  3. Show random scenes of violence without any documentation as to the date, time, place, or participants.
  4. While doing the former, do nothing to advance the point, instead simply being content with boring the audience for an hour or so while showing violence.
  5. End the movie.

Unfortunately, F911 lacked the cute cartoon found in BfC. It's a pity: I really could have used something entertaining in the second hour.

The information in the beginning of the movie was fine. I knew most of it. I knew about the flights on September 12 and 13th. I knew about the Halliburton bullshit, I knew about almost everything. I don't care for Bush, and so I really wanted Michael Moore to create an airtight case based on these facts, but he clearly couldn't fill a two-hour movie building such a case. I wanted a solid body of sound reporting and undeniable fact. He failed completely.

Moore is a sloppy "documentarian." He drops in video footage of quotes or handshakes that suit his purpose - in this case, making Bush look like a scheming moron, primarily - without noting the year or context. He creates a message, but fact? Well, that's something for those "we hate Michael Moore" sites to deal with. Heaven forbid the documentarian care about fact!

Moore is so slimy in this regard that I can't imagine any intelligent person in the audience trusting him or the film. He's more deceptive than Bush if only because he's slightly smarter about trying to come in under the cover of a "documentary." Given the drop-ins, creative editing, and disregard for facts (like timestamping every scene, or naming the participants, or giving fuller context to quotes), the smarter viewer is left to wonder if the Iraq war scenes are all from the Iraq war. Who's to say that some of them aren't just stock war scene footage?

That doesn't even answer the question, either: what point does showing an hour of war footage or interviewing a woman whose son died in the war have to do with his main point: that Bush et al are greedy people fighting a war to suit their own purposes? Yes, people die in a war. War is gruesome.

It's a cheap trick, showing an hour of questionable war footage in order to pull at the heartstrings of the viewer. It's sensationalist crap that had little point in a "documentary." I'm fairly disgusted by the movie: I don't like Bush and I wanted a sound, solid case that can't be so easily picked apart as some of Moore's other documentaries.

He failed.

I respect Moore for having the balls to put the movie out. I respect him for trying to make a difference. I do not respect the cheap way in which he attempts to do this, by manipulating the audience and developing a repartee with "funny" cuts, silly moments, and canned stunts.

Shame on you, Michael Moore, and shame on anyone who is so easily misled by this "documentary." The facts speak well enough for themselves if you're looking for reasons to despise Bush.

13 Responses to "Fahrenheit 9/11"

  1. What made it not a documentary, in your view?

    I haven't seen it yet, but I don't think a film stops being a documentary the moment it becomes a polemic; otherwise, too many classic documentaries would not qualify.

    I'm also not sure why, having seen at least one other Moore film, you thought he was going to present you with a sober, careful, reasoned argument. Although if you want one of those, I recommend Eric Alterman and Mark Green's The Book on Bush, which may be more up your alley.

    Best wishes.

  2. Well, Michael Moore has himself said that this film is not a documentary, but an opinion piece. He's been saying that from the get-go, so in that regard-- all bets are off.

    However, I would appreciate an air-tight case against Bush instead of Moore's propaganda. I might be seeing the film either this weekend or next, so I'll write about it then.

  3. Erik, everything you wrote is complete correct.

    But...

    The thing is, Moore is incredibly important, precisely because he is so obviously biased. This type of "reporting" is what the Right has been doing for years (Limbaugh, O'Reilly, anyone on Fox News). People are amazingly susceptible to propaganda; more likely than not, we believe what we hear on the radio, read in a book, or see on TV. The Left, true to their liberal principles, often become obsessed with being "objective," while the Right seems not to care about being "fair an balanced." This has developed into an incredibly strong conservative voice in our media, and a liberal voice that has almost completely been silenced.

    Moore and others like Al Frankin and MoveOn.org are nothing new; they are simply using the tools honed by the Right to strike back. Yes, Moore is extremely biased, but he is needed to balance out the strident voices from the other side of the aisle.

    I think we'd all be happier if Moore, Limbaugh, and all the pundits both sides would just shut the fuck up already, but as long as there is a Limbaugh, I think there must be a Moore.

  4. Obviously, Michael Moore doesn't want to convince intelligent and well-informed people like you. He doesn't have to.

    To convince those Americans who are stupid enough to vote for Bush, you have to speak in their language. And for that you don't need to make a movie with much depth. You have to go for the feelings, not the mind.

  5. Aren't all of his movies the same way? This is nothing new for him. Aren't all documentaries the same way? Damn super size me for not taking mcdonalds side.

  6. I have yet to see it but after BFC I think I will wait until it comes on HBO. The only thought I left BNC with was that Moore must have gotten his ass kicked by Michigan rednecks every day in high school to have such a deep-rooted hatred for all things conservative.

    Moore's speech at the Oscars only proves he is a hate-monger. He hates Bush and will do anything to malign him. Too bad he lets his hatred get in the way of making decent films.

    I'm sure the Bush-haters will eat it up. I am neither a Bush-hater nor supporter. I don't want Bush or Kerry in the White House come January. They both suck equally in my eye.

  7. Unfortunately for Michael Moore, Bush wasn't the guy who let members of the bin Laden family go after Sept. 11th. It happened to be Richard Clarke who did that.

    http://www.thehill.com/news/052604/clarke.aspx

  8. In the end the only new things for me were the mostly raw footage from Iraq. No, Moore doesn't go into Bush's business practices as well as Molly Ivins, he doesn't detail the Bush/Saudi connection as well as Craig Unger, but it is repetition, something that the lefist media is just starting to get. Here's the thing though. No one listens to Molly Ivins or Craig Unger. People are listening to Michael Moore, if only because he's as controversial as David Duke at an NAACP rally.

    Do I agree with him? Not on a lot of things. I am grateful that he's put a face on the cost of war. It's sad that the news media isn't covering the war like Moore is.

  9. I've personally enjoyed Moore's previous movies and books, but I think that Fahrenheit 9/11 went too far into propaganda to prove much worth. While I've never believed Bush's rationale for going to war (and I'm still waiting to be proven wrong), I don't think that Fahrenheit 9/11 will convince anyone with an opposing view to switch sides. I saw the MoveOn.org documentary (more of a documentary than F 9/11) a while back and found it more informational, although there many that left the room cussing out all the "America-hating liberals" (words one of them used). This is a very important issue to discuss before electing the next president, but we need to go about it with the facts at hand and in a collected manner. Moore may have recently done more harm than good, but he certainly polarized many viewers and I admire his courage to put out films of this nature despite any objections.

  10. The thing about the "flights on the 11th or 12th" is this:

    According to Richard Clarke, the man who personally OK'd them, the request from the Saudi Embassy didn't even make it to CIA until the 15th, Saturday. It came to CIA from State, and from CIA it went over to FBI, then back to CIA again with the FBI's seal of approval.

    The FAA grounding was lifted on (or by) the 14th. I know this because I flew home from L.A. to Dallas that day, after being stuck in Hollywood for the duration. That's not the sort of thing you forget. In fact, I don't think I'll ever forget what it was like to be away from home when 9/11 happened.

    So since the government didn't even receive the request until the 15th, how could the Saudis have gone anywhere while the FAA grounding on was still in effect?

    I haven't seen the movie--nor do I intend to; Michael Moore has made enough money by lying to the American people and the world--so I don't know if he out-and-out says that the Saudis flew during the FAA ban or if he merely implies it. But either way, it just ain't so.

  11. F911 wasn't meant to be airtight proof... that's not what it's shooting for. It's just trying to bring some facts (most of which were known by people who pay attention) to the forefront of the nation's conscious. I think he's providing a pretty valuable service in a country that's largely apathetic and ignorant to what's going on. That's bad enough in itself, but when your country's preemptively invading sovereign nations it's good to have something that reminds you to look into it more yourself.

    Like you, I don't think there were any 'FACTS' that I learned in the movie. I was familiar with most all of it's subject matter. To me the most powerful part was the Baghdad footage... most the Iraq dignitaries we see are religious leaders decked out in traditional garb, and the way we were rushed from cave fighting in Afghanistan into Iraq it was easy to forget the people sitting there in an open air cafe in their collared shirts drinking coffee... kids flying a kite and riding bikes around... I just sat there thinking "these people don't really look like they need liberating." And those are the civilian centers that we're bombing in order to take out a leader that, while bad, didn't do anything to our country and wasn't even elected* by his people (* i mean for reals elected). And we're spending millions and millions of dollars to blow these guys up? F911 aside, anyway you cast that movie we're the bad guys.

    ~BS

  12. The goal of F 9/11 was not to construct an intellectual case against Bush, but to present a rhetorical one that demolishes the two most important lies of the Bush administration/re-election campaign (the two are nearly indistinguishable entities).

    The first lie it takes on is that Bush is a stalwart leader and war president. The film addresses this lie by showing Bush as an incompetant boob incapable of quick thinking, intelligence or gravitas. Many of the more cheap shot, less serious moments of the film make this case. Also contributing are Bush's reaction upon being informed of the 9/11 attacks and impugning the motivations for going to war Iraq and Afghanistan and attacking the way those wars were executed.

    The second lie the film addresses is the notion that Bush is an ordinary guy that cares about other ordinary guys. We are presented with Bush's business dealings and close relationship with the Saudi's and Multi-national coporations (Halliburton, etc.) to put the lie to the former part of this decption. We are then shown the plight of numerous actual ordinary citizens, such as dead and injured Iraqis, kids in Flint who are being preyed upon by Marine recruiters, the mother of a son who died in the Iraqi fighting, in order to make us identify with these true everymen, people just like us or people we know, who are the true victims of Bush's policies.

    The true purpose of the film is to attack Bush as a man who works only for the interests of his elite circle of friends and business partners while ignoring the consequences of these policies on the very people he wants to considered a representative of. It does so quite effectively, albeit at times in a somewhat dubious fashion.

  13. HarperCollins subsidiary ReganBooks, which published Moore's best seller “Stupid White Men” and now brings us “Michael Moore Is A Big Fat Stupid White Man.”

    Everybody knows Moore is a blue-collar guy from Flint, Mich., right? That's how he always sells himself. However, he was born and raised in the wealthy, whiter than white-collar town of Davison, Mich.

    Moore is so terrified by his detractors he claims that he has already hired a cabal of lawyers. He says he will sue Bush supporters who he thinks may be preparing to slander him. Moore's hypocrisy is obvious. Slate editor Jack Shafer says “Moore's hysterical, empty threats" to sue critics of his latest schlockumentary shows that he "appears to believe in free speech only for himself."

    The book also outlines the details how the magazine Mother Jones fired the "arbitrary" and "suspicious" Moore; how he started his feud with his replacement, David Talbot, who later founded Salon; how Ralph Nader's organization fired Moore; how he attacked Pauline Kael, Harlan Jacobson and other prominent critics who exposed the deceits of his schlockumentaries; how he lost a lawsuit for betraying fellow lefty activist Larry Stecco in "Roger & Me," etc.

    What's that? If a single person says something about the authors being right-wing, well... isn't Moore all about freedom of speech? Aren't you? Moore is a spoiled white-collar brat with two multi-million dollar homes that cries out constantly that capitalism is an evil, evil system. Is there no hypocrisy in that? Note, *Im* note claiming capitalism is evil, HE is... does a man deserve to enjoy the earnings of his work? In my opinion yes. But hey, I'm not Michael Moore. Thank God.


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