Wednesday, October 20, 2004

To coincide with the DVD release of Fahrenheit 9/11 a post written… months ago

Regular readers will know of my love hate relationship with Michael Moore. Something that will make the man himself sit up and think, when you’ve got a Ruffles on your tail it’s got to be a worry. I loved Bowling for Columbine, but thought Stupid White Men was, generally, pish. So it’s one-all with Moore’s latest venture in the cinemas.

Moore’s central argument in Fahrenheit 9/11 still makes a lot of sense, America is built on rampant capitalism, capitalism’s central theme is greed, and those who are more successful at being greedy use corporately funded fear and alienation (or more specifically, the fear of being alienated) to maintain their position. I agree with all this, although you could argue that the land of the free, means you are equally free to succeed and fail by any means necessary and it’s just that Bush and his cohorts are better than most at succeeding. Perhaps the true argument should be that the model of the American Dream is fundamentally flawed, for which all Americans must take responsibility – but Moore isn’t brave enough to make that kind of accusation.

Fahrenheit 9/11 isn’t a great documentary in itself; it’s a bit one paced and his central argument barely develops as the film progresses. Moore’s clearly struggled to get together decent footage to support what he’s saying (either that or his deliberately used grainy TV footage to give it that gritty ‘urban warrior’ feel). His interviewing style is frustratingly leading, expressing his own personal feelings as questions that his hand picked acolytes are happy to agree with.

It’s difficult to know what Moore’s objective truly is; this isn’t an intelligent commentary on the state of America and therefore the world post 9/11. If that’s what it’s supposed to be then it will fail to rouse the chattering liberal middle classes. If it’s a wake-up call or call to arms to America’s great unwashed, then the message itself is sound (watching the aggressive recruitment of troops for Iraq in mid-America shopping malls will raise a few eyebrows) but its stylistic execution is unlikely to draw people away from Spiderman 2. If it’s simply a historical social documentary, it’s really quite poor, but if it’s just another voice to add to the anti-republican cause then I suppose it’s sound, if undeserving of the publicity it’s had.


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