Fahrenheit 9/11

Is Michael Moore really a documentary maker?  That's a crucial question that needs to be resolved before trying to understand Fahrenheit 9/11.  A documentary maker is one who asks a question, considers the evidence, and presents their honest conclusions.  Moore does not.  Moore knows his conclusion before he's started making the film, and instead selects the evidence which supports his proposition.  It is an insult to true documentary makers for Moore to be considered in that way - instead he should be put in the category of great propagandists, along with Stalin, Kim Jong-il and Senator Eric Abetz.  What Moore produces is propaganda - and damn fine propaganda at that - but a documentry it aint.
F9/11 is a cinematic, dogmatic critique of Bush's time in the White House.  He starts off by rehashing some of the Florida election conspiracy theory nonsense unleashed on the world in Stupid White Men. (No one should mention that Moore was a big part of Green Ralph Nader's campaign in 2000, the very one that pinched enough Democrat votes to put Bush in the White House.)  Then we move through September 11, Afghanistan, Iraq, Halliburton, a few neo-cons and we end up with a military sob-story that would enduce tears in even the most hardened of cynics (yep, even this one).  The hatred that Moore feels for Bush is obvious, and it does on occassions make his case less, rather than Moore convincing (wince!).
Moore continues the tradition of self-criticism, even self-hate, amongst many on the left in western societies.  We are shown harrowing beheading footage from Saudi Arabia, but instead of directing any blame towards Saudi society (ie, those actually doing the beheading) it is of course the fault of fat-cat American oil executives, because, well, um, we can't expect those other people to be able to think and act for themselves.  We can also safely conclude that things were hunky dory in the last days of the Hussein regime, since on the day that the invasion/liberation began, there was a child flying a kite.  I saw it myself.  Kid flying kite = perfect society.  At least until those barbarian child-torturing-village-destroying-life-hating western troops got there.
In the end, F9/11 makes damn good entertainment.  No doubt plenty of people will harden in their support for the Democrats in the next election.  This can only be a good thing, with Kerry and Edwards looking like forging a much more internationalist, moderate path than Bush the cowboy.   It is worrying to hear the struggle that Moore had to go through, and the opposition from it's original distributer the Disney-linked Miramax, before the film hit cinemas.  It is the sign of a healthy democracy that controversial content not be censored, and all power to the distributers that took it on (and look set to make Saddam look like a miser given the cash the film is set to rake it).


Anonymous said…
Is the film propaganda? Of course. But propaganda is not necessarily evil - it's just information spread to promote a particular cause. Whether that cause is evil is another question. But to group Moore with Stalin and Kim Jong-Il on that basis is excessive. Making a film that demonises a politician (even if underhanded, one-sided or dishonest) hardly equates to testing chemical weapons on prisoners (which Kim Jong-Il is accused of).

F9/11 is not so much a documentary - but a political editorial piece. And there's nothing wrong with that is there? We've heard Bush, Blair and Howard's editorials for two years about Iraq. Of course, Moore's film isn't being used to justify war (in the military sense).


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