Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Michael Row the Boat Ashore

So I just finished watching Fahrenheit 9/11 and my reactions are somewhat mixed. I think Michael Moore made some excellent points, and I definitely think it's very important to have his voice be heard since his critical viewpoint is woefully underreported in mainstream American press. He also had some great footage, ranging from one-sided propaganda that made Bush and his cabinet look like complete botches (biased, but you must admit skilled) to powerful footage of reactions to horrible situations: New Yorkers staring up at the WTC, a woman whose son was killed in Iraq and who read his last letter home, an Iraqi woman crying about the innocent members of her family killed in American bombings, etc. Also intriguing footage of a man whose friends at a local gym reported him to the FBI because he said Bush was a bigger asshole than bin Laden (pardon the crudeness, but I don't know how to paraphrase that without it losing its meaning) and a benign peace advocacy group that was infiltrated by a government agent.

All that having been said, I think there were some deep flaws to the film as well. Of course it's one-sided, that goes without saying. But I really didn't appreciate Moore showing footage of Bush and editorializing on what he might be thinking. Shoot Mike, I can make you look like an idiot if I show video of you sitting in a chair and say in voice-over "Maybe right now he's thinking of eating another donut..." Ad-hominem attack and unfair? Yes, that's why I don't think it should be done. And at times Moore let his mouth go on for too long over powerful footage that could speak for itself. Some cheap shots were taken, but one must admit that it was done very convincingly and effectively. It takes a sharp mind to put together the incongruities that Moore does; one that I thought was very skillfully done was Rumsfeld talking about how amazing our bomb aiming was while shot after shot of innocent Iraqi civilians maimed and killed by those bombs were shown on the screen. Again, bordering perilously between tastelessness and caustic truth.

I liked it a lot overall. I think I'm good at ignoring flaws when there is something so forceful underneath it all. Go see it. It's a strong voice against war, and I think that is generally a very good thing--especially in the case of this war.

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