« HRC's true colors | Main | Saddam on trial »

Pornography for Bush-haters

I laughed. I cried. Then I watched the movie.

Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9-11 is pornography for Bush-haters. It appeals to the basest instincts of its audience while demanding nothing in return. Mind you, I don't object to pornography in general, but please, let's not harbor illusions as to what we're doing when we engage in such guilty pleasures. And perhaps the liberals who lined up in droves to see this film could be more tolerant of our brethren on the right whey they engage in similar acts of self-gratification, such as listening to Sean Hannity, or reading Ann Coulter.

Beyond that, I cannot understand why this movie is such a big deal. Yes, there are distortions, inaccuracies and cheap shots, but I was so underwhelmed by the entire package that I cannot even bring myself to be offended. The first half of the movie was compelling enough, but haphazard and unfocused. The second half, was, simply put, boring.

The movie begins with a rehash of Bush "stealing" Florida. We've heard it all before, but Moore's new twist seems to be that the "theft" was perpetrated by Fox News. There was, of course, help from Poppy Bush's "friends" on the Supreme Court. That Justice Souter, a Bush 41 appointee, dissented in Bush vs. Gore is one of those inconvenient facts that Moore counts on his audience not knowing.

Moore then spends much time discussing the connection between Bush and the Saudi royal family via a holding company called the Carlyle Group. What conclusions Moore expects us to draw from this relationship is unclear, but we're just sure it must be something sinister. The movie does deal at some length with the flights that spirited certain high-profile Saudis, including members of the bin Laden family, out of the United States in the days following 9/11. Richard Clarke seems to have cleared up this mystery himself, however, after Moore's movie was filmed.

Perhaps the film's most egregious inaccuracy was Moore's confusing the themes from The Magnificent Seven and Bonanza, but there was some pretty flagrant deck-stacking as well. Most annoying to me was Moore's "roll call" of the coalition, beginning with Palau, Costa Rica, and Iceland, and some other nations that lack armies and weapons altogether. The list then peters out, and the viewer who didn't know better would be allowed (even encouraged) to believe that the alliance comprised only the United States and a few insignificant pissant countries with no standing army at all. Why didn't he mention, say, England, Australia, Spain, Poland, or Italy? Palau is funnier! Moreover, it helps Moore make his point that the entire coalition is merely a sham. England and Italy are not useful to Moore's thesis, so they are simply ignored.

Another favorite bit of mine was a cameo by a gum-chewing Britney Spears, who said we should simply trust our president and support his decisions. Get it, folks? If you support the president, you're like Britney Spears!

And speaking of deck-stacking, was ultra-leftist Jim McDermott really the only congressman that Michael Moore interviewed for this film? It would appear so.

The second half of the movie was excruciatingly boring, particularly an interminable sequence in which two marines are wandering Moore's hometown of Flint, Michigan searching for recruits. The movie's plunge into tedium is odd, as it occurs exactly when the movie finally begins to tackle its ostensible subject matter -- Iraq.

The most powerful sequences are, without a doubt, those involving grieving relatives of the war's casualties, both American and Iraqi. While these images are tragic and heartbreaking, they are the images of any war, and they tell us nothing about the injustices of this war in particular.

All in all, I can't see why this movie is a big deal. Yes, it's a singularly partisan smear job. Yes, it's riddled with distortions and straw men. But even though it sets out with a single goal in mind, unencumbered by facts or balance, the movie still falls short. I cannot imagine that any hearts or minds will be changed by this, on either side. Bush's opponents will likely enjoy it. His supporters will likely get angry. I think that's about the extent of its impact, however.

I approached this movie fully believing it to be capable of tilting the electoral balance towards Kerry in a close election. I no longer believe that to be the case. Moreover, I think the Democratic Party needs to tread carefully with Mr. Moore. No doubt they are grateful to have someone of such prominence to serve as a conduit for their anger and frustration. But if they become too closely linked with the likes of Moore in the minds of the public, it will not be helpful in their quest to regain the White House next year.

So that's it. My official review is: "no big deal."

Look Mom, I'm a movie critic! Hackwriter, eat your heart out. :-)


I wish I could agree that it isn't a big deal. Unfortunately, I think it is a HUGE deal because an entire segment of the population believes that Michael Moore is telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth in this so-called documentary. These are the perceptions that can swing votes and ultimately decide an election. Man, I am so worried about the future of this country! Ignorance is temporary; stupid is forever. By the way - your mom will be proud of your review. :0)

I'm afrad I have to agree with lori. I know some people who went to see this movie who never watch the news, never read the paper, and have no idea what's going on in the world. Sure, it may be no big deal to you or I because we have a context for it, but I fear that it will sway the opinions of a lot of people who are never exposed to any other viewpoint.

Sorry, Barry, but I'm not planning to nominate you for Cinemarati membership in the next round of noms.


You said: "Mind you, I don't object to pornography in general, but please, let's not harbor illusions as to what we're doing when we engage in such guilty pleasures."

You mean like the Arkansas Project spending $70 million of taxpayer money sniffing panties for traces of Bill Clinton and saying it's about the national interest? You mean like that?

You said: " Moore's new twist seems to be that the "theft" was perpetrated by Fox News."

That's NOT what Moore says. What he says, and this is borne out by the FACTS, is that the other networks were calling Florida for Al Gore....all EXCEPT Fox News. The person manning the Election Night Decision Desk at Fox News was one John Ellis, a first cousin of both the governor of Florida and the Republican candidate for the Presidency. Ellis had been recently quoted as saying, "I am loyal to my cousin, Governor George Bush of Texas. I put that loyalty ahead of my loyalty to anyone else outside my immediate family".

Doesn't that trouble you at all? If it doesn't, ask yourself what you would have thought if Roger Clinton had been manning CNN's Election Night Decision Desk in 1992.

In a New Yorker interview, Ellis bragged about how he spent much of Election Night on the phone with his cousins talking strategies and exit-polling: "At 2 a.m. Ellis called his cousins and told them, 'Our projection shows that it is statistically impossible for Gore to win Florida.' It was just the three of us guys handing the phone back and forth -- me with the numbers, one of them a governor, the other the president-elect. Now, that was cool."

It may be "cool", but is it journalistic ethics? Oh yeah, I forgot. Unethical conduct in the interest of installing Republican candidates is perfectly OK. Silly me.

So let me ask you this: If this film is "no big deal", then why are you and your cohorts on the right behaving as though it is? Methinks thou and those who think like thou protesteth too much.

And by the way, unlike your site, MY site does present alternative viewpoints. Jeff Huston, one of my contributors, is an evangelical Christian from Oklahoma. There are few things we ever agree on, but we do subscribe to the subversive notion that intelligent people of good will can disagree. Of course, the emphasis is on good will, which we both know we have. When Jeff writes a review of F911, it will appear on the site just as mine does. If you don't believe me, go check out the various viewpoints Mixed Reviews offers on THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST.

> Sorry, Barry, but I'm not planning to nominate
> you for Cinemarati membership in the next round
> of noms.

Sigh. Well, thanks anyway, Jill. I guess maybe it's not the right career change for me after all. I suppose there's always animal husbandry....

I have a question. If Michael Moore doesn't feel compelled to make a balanced movie then why should critics feel compelledto give it a balanced review.

Post a comment