As The Other Charlotte recently reported (“Raves for Michael Moore, Pans for Mel“), reviewers who liked “The Passion of the Christ” inevitably hated “Fahrenheit 9/11” and vice versa.
Well, I’m a contrarian–I loved “The Passion,” but I also immensely enjoyed “Fahrenheit.” In a perverse way.
I laughed and laughed and laughed during “Fahrenheit”–and even before I settled into my seat at the movie house in Georgetown.
To get inside, you had to run the gauntlet of earnest young people with clipboards. “Want to help get George Bush out of the White House?” they asked.
It was a rhetorical question–if you didn’t want to sign, or (I plead guilty) were mirthful, they were alternately angry or just plain dumbfounded.
They have never met people who don’t hate George Bush, and they certainly didn’t expect to do so in a movie house in Georgetown. There’s a word to describe living in this kind of intellectual cocoon: the mot is parochialism.
The film itself is old-fashioned propaganda, crude but quite funny. Moore is decidedly lacking in multicultural sensitivity in the way he pillories Arabs or the natives of other small countries supporting the U.S.-led coalition.
The funniest moment was when news of the departure from the U.S. of members of the Bin Laden family after 9/11 was interspersed with footage from the old “Dragnet” on TV. Shouldn’t the FBI have questioned them? Joe Friday says he wants “Just the facts, ma’am.”
If it’s facts you want, this isn’t the movie for you–it’s all innuendo, guilt by association and mockery.
Yes, our president has funny facial expressions (as, indeed, you might, too, if you were sitting in the Oval Office waiting to address the entire world), and, yes, Paul Wolfowitz is gross when he spits on his comb to smooth down his pompadour, and, yes, the Attorney General likes to sing sappy songs. But so what?
The most heralded moment in the movie is when President Bush, surrounded by school children, is told of the second plane hitting the World Trade Center. He continues to sit still, with a children’s book, “My Pet Goat,” (Moore appears to regard the title of the book as particularly incriminating) in his hands.
Moore implies that this is the height of stupidity–but I was brung up to believe that, if something bad happens, you continue with your duties instead of running out of the room, scaring children and showing your emotions. If you look at Moore’s footage, Bush was obviously a man in pain, gathering himself together for an unprecedented moment that would define his presidency and change us all (except jerks like Moore). Seven minutes of quiet sounds like a pretty good idea under the circumstances.
The real problem with the movie, though, is that to believe it, you have to believe that the president of the United States is in cahoots with Saudi Arabia to undermine this country (Moore says that the U.S. pays the president $400,000 a year, while the Bush family has made more than a billion from the Saudis–“Who do you think he loves more?” Moore intones), that we went to war in Afghanistan for a gas pipeline, and that Baghdad was a veritable Eden before our bombs began to drop on it.
“It’s amazing,” writes Michael Barone, “that any politician, however opposed to Bush, would want to be associated with this film or its maker, a man who said shortly after the 9/11 attacks: ’We, the United States of America, are culpable in committing so many acts of terror and bloodshed that we had better get a clue about the culture of violence in which we have been active participants.’ As for the current situation in Iraq, Moore has written: ’The Iraqis who have risen up against the occupation are not “insurgents” or “terrorists” or “The Enemy.” They are the REVOLUTION, the Minutemen, and their numbers will grow–and they will win.’ Are these messages Democrats really wish to embrace?”
There is another segment of the movie that I want to mention–a bereaved mother is distraught that her son has been killed in Iraq. She says that she had urged him to go into the military only to get a college education.
As sorry as I am for this mother, I feel that somebody should note the salient point–if you go into the military, you may have to fight in your nation’s wars. The benefits, such as an education, accrue as rewards for this honorable and risky undertaking, but one should not view the military solely as a social program.