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Thursday, September 8, 2005

The Casual Critic — Fahrenheit 9/11

Michael Moore almost deserved credit for one thing — he essentially makes no suggestion that Fahrenheit 9/11 is an unbiased look at President Bush's reactions to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. But, he even screwed that up by calling his film a documentary.

“Documentary” is defined by as “[p]resenting facts objectively without editorializing or inserting fictional matter, as in a book or film.” Calling Fahrenheit 9/11 a documentary is like calling The Casual Critic scholarly work, and I got a better shot at making that stick than Moore does using his description.

Fahrenheit 9/11 is an attack on President Bush, plain and simple. I don't necessarily have a problem with that (and certainly the events in the Gulf Coast after Hurrican Katrina make it even easier to question Bush). While I support the war in Iraq, I have never voted for any Bush. In fact, my biggest problem with 2004 Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry was that he made the war a campaign issue. But, I digress.

I don't even dispute Moore's facts. He suggests Bush had business ties to Bin Laden, and that the family of Bin Laden has business interests that benefit from a U.S. defense build-up. He questions Bush by pointing to events that took place after September 11th, such as Bin Laden family members being allowed to leave the country, the area Bin Laden was thought to be in being ignored for two months, and a Taleban rep being allowed to visit our country.

The problem is Moore gives the film a smartass tone, offers zero context, draws some idiotic conclusions, and plays the same type of games he claims the Bush Administration is playing. He disgustingly put Iraq in the role of sympathetic figure, which is a joke. He also fills his film with plenty of facts that, while making Bush look bad, have little to do with 9/11.

Let's start with Moore's criticism of Bush's immediate reaction upon being told of the attacks. The President was told of the planes crashing into the World Trade Center while at an appearance with young children, and Moore rips him for a slow reaction. Being whisked out of that classroom would have done absolutely nothing but traumatize a bunch of kids and create dramatic video. Typically, Moore uses the slow reaction to mock Bush, and never even mentions a possible alternative reason for the calm reaction.

The list of nonsense “issues” Moore has with Bush is extensive. He points to Bush being on vacation too much, compares Bush's salary as president with his business interests, and compares the war to the non-war depicted in George Orwell's 1984. Moore flat-out says Bush was looking to roll back civil liberties, and compares examples of poor border patrol and holes in airport security with abuses of the Patriotic Act. He even blames Bush for poor behavior of troops, and mocks press coverage of the war. According to Moore, the Terror Alerts are merely propaganda to keep us all scared and supporting the war. Worst of all, Moore uses — in every sense of the word — a mother who lost her son in Iraq speaking out against the war to punctuate his film.

Farenheit 9/11 is filled with shots of members of the Administration about to go on camera looking odd or confused, shows “support” of Bush in the form of the airheaded Britanny Spears, and offers clips from the TV series Dragnet to mock things Moore doesn't like. Regardless of your opinion of the war in Iraq, Moore fails miserably at producing anything better than a latenight skit. I'd say skip it, but wouldn't want to add to Moore's paranoia. So, I'll just point out that this sucks.

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