July 31, 2004 | Unknown

Sometimes Moore is Too Much: Darlene on Fahrenheit 9/11

At a recent screening of Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11 the audience was less lively than I expected them to be.
Where was the applause like that which erupted at the Cannes Film Festival or the vocal agreement with Moore’s representation of George W. Bush as a nitwit and lazy President who prefers Saudi money to his fellow Americans?
Sure there were a few gasps and sighs, as well as laughs when well-known political commentator Britney Spears managed to chew gum and express support for Bush at the same time, however, there was also a feeling of emotional distance from the film in the cinema.
Funny for those of us opposed to any form of stereotyping was Moore’s take on countries enlisted into the Coalition of the Willing, including those drug-addled Dutch, who are obviously better with bongs than they are with bazookas.
“No man; let’s listen to reggae and smoke pot instead (sorry, wrong stereotype, although one strategically unimportant nation is pretty much like another).
Between chuckles Moore inundated viewers with insinuation about such topics as the apparently sanctioned ‘escape’ from the United States of members of the Bin Laden family after the attack on the World Trade Centre (WTC), links between Saudis in the oil business and the Bushes and the President’s reluctance to commit to an inquiry into 9/11.
All worthy subjects for examination, but Moore’s eagerness to ‘prove’ Bush’s guilt left him resorting to the sort of good guy/bad guy stuff that the cowboy program he uses for the purposes of parody featured.
According to Moore, for example, Iraqi civilians and disgruntled military personnel are good and pro-war Americans and soldiers who listen to aggressive rock music while in battle are bad.
By the way, Dubya gets to star in Bonanza, but John Howard obviously failed to win a role because Australia was noticeably, for antipodeans anyway, not in the script.
Whereas D W Griffith’s notorious 1915 homage to the Ku Klux Klan, Birth of a Nation, romanticised the life led by Southerners prior to the Civil War, Moore’s pre-conflict Iraq is kids with kites and shopping, as if the country used to be a playground and a potential holiday destination for Paris Hilton under Saddam Hussein’s leadership.
Propaganda is propaganda whether the filmmaker is trying to make us believe in something patently awful or a line of thinking we may have some sympathy with.
Given this, the viewer is left wondering whether Moore’s decision to black out the screen rather than show the hijacked jets ploughing into the WTC illustrates that he believes both in the dramatic power of sound and the need to reduce the horrendousness of these crimes so images from the Iraq War did not have competition for our more heightened anger and sorrow.
As a moderate opponent of the incursion (it’s surely impossible to think the removal of a tyrant is a bad thing, even if there might have been other ways to do it) the visuals of the dead, dying and injured are a necessary reminder of the terrible nature of warfare.
With the movie currently screening in America, it might be the first time many in that country have seen these pictures after largely being informed by an aggressive and nationalistic media.
It is when discussing the media’s treatment of the war, the use of different degrees of terror alert to scare, calm and then frighten again when expedient and the draconian USA Patriot Act that Moore is at his most convincing and interesting.
When filming Lila Lipscomb, a mother whose son was killed in Iraq, bent ov

Posted by Unknown at 12:43 pm | Comments (3) |
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  1. Less is Moore

    This review of Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11 by Darlene on Ambit Gambit is well worth reading. I haven’t seen the movie yet, but I suspect my reaction is likely to be similar….

    Comment by Troppo Armadillo — August 1, 2004 @ 2:10 pm

  2. Darlene Taylors article on audience reaction after a screening of ‘Fahrenheit 9/11’ was a different experience to what I witnessed during and following a Queensland screening recently.
    I found the movie and its relevance (even though some truths may have been embellished) compelling enough to focus on my own emotions, however took time to look around at the shadowed faces in the cinema. I saw what I had expected – expressions of disbelief, grimacing, anger, and tears. When the film come to a close the audience applauded – not too loudly, nor with voices, but recognisably.
    Whatever attracted people to the cinema that day – media hype, curiosity, or deep-seated beliefs – the power of the statements made in the film had no doubt carried across to the audience.
    Although I felt strengthened by witnessing the film with a group (albeit mostly strangers), the consequence was there was no forum for discussion then and there. My inbuilt reaction was a want for a collective union of whoever had gathered to do something..to act. Instead, like others I walked nonchantly from the room, and trundled back to my ordinary life and living room.
    Thanks Mike for passing on a Strengthened feeling, powerful awareness, intellectual knowledge on an emotional scale, but is it enough to Just Watch?

    Comment by Clare — August 4, 2004 @ 6:01 pm

  3. Thank you, Clare, for your feedback relating your experience of seeing the film. It is always good to read different views.
    As always, Evil, cheers.

    Comment by Darlene — August 5, 2004 @ 1:49 pm

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