Sunday, May 23rd, 2004

Turn On The News

So Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11 won the Palme d’Or at Cannes. This simultaneously thrills and disgusts me. Thrill, because the timing is such that it’ll undoubtedly stir up a shitstorm of controversy about the Bush presidency in the crucial months leading up to the November election, and disgust because I don’t look forward to having to listen to his fans parrot everything he says in the film as gospel. See, I don’t trust Michael Moore. I don’t like how he builds his cases on half-truths, exaggerations and stunts to get his points across. Don’t get me wrong – I stand on very much the same political ground as him, but I think the facts in support of these beliefs are strong enough to stir the necessary debate without having them spun and giving opponents a legitimate beef with their presentation.

His “I’m a documentarian no wait I’m a satirist” schtick doesn’t do much to inspire confidence, nor does his typical bluster and outrage at anyone who would dare to call into question anything he says. It’s fact if you believe it, satire if you don’t. Consider Bowling For Columbine – a cursory internet search will no doubt bring up a multitude of hits for sites debunking much of the ‘facts’ he put forward in his breakthrough film. Would I suggest that they’re all right? Hell no, but they’re not all wrong either, and their POV is certainly worth investigating, providing you can cut through the polemic and rhetoric, and want to be fully informed and make up your own mind. Consider a couple seemingly innocuous ones – that the Columbine didn’t actually go bowling the morning of the shootings as the film alleges (they cut the class that day), and the bank where Moore gets a rifle after opening an account doesn’t actually just hand out the guns – they do FBI background checks first. And oh yeah – we don’t actually all leave our doors unlocked in Canada. Sure, what Moore presents makes for more interesting filmmaking, but it’s not true. And if he’s fudging that stuff, what else is he twisting? It may seem I’m getting pedantic about details, but the truth is sacred and if you start compromising the high ground, you lose your credibility. You can’t believe everything your guy says just because it’s what you want to hear and dismiss everything the other guy says, just because it’s not what you want to hear. I imagine that’s a lot what it’s like to be a Bush supporter these days.

From what I’ve heard, Fahrenheit 9/11 compiles a lot of third-party news reports to make its case and Moore himself stays, so hopefully it’s a little lighter on the stunts and spin. And I will see it. And I will no doubt be even more outraged at the Bush administration afterwards than I am now, which is a little hard to fathom. But you’re also damn right I’m going to question every single thing that I see in it. Don’t get me wrong – like I said, it will spur debate, and debate is always good (though in these times, I would not be surprised if it’s utterly ineffective – people are so entrenched in their beliefs these days). It’s just better when you can fully believe in the guys on your side.

So there’s a little light ranting for a Sunday morning. Slow day, y’know. It was either this or I complain about the weather. Which I’ll do anyway. Rain every single day of the long weekend? Feh.

np – Lambchop / Is A Woman

By : Frank Yang at 11:25 am
Category: Uncategorized
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  1. sam says:

    i’m no fan of the self-serving michael moore either, but i am for michael moore the documentarian. and apparently this one is a more subdued affair. seriously. and it winning the Palme d’or actually calms my fears that it would be an all-orgy like some of Bowling was. they don’t just give away the Palme for no reason, you know. and i do think Mike’s heard the backlash his self-serving side got post-Bowling. he knows he’s got power since that film and i trust he’s wielding it wisely on this film. can’t wait to see it.

    and you’re right about the shitstorm :)

    not that Cannes gives this film credit but the win definitely pushes the film over the hack documentarian hump.

  2. Garry says:

    When I saw the "Canadian" segment in ‘Bowling For Columbine’, it felt like I had stood on the same grounds with Mooore in regards to how we keep our doors unlocked. However, I didn’t believe him 100%. As a documentarian, it’s your job to cover the facts in a raw fashion and display them being unscathed. Micheal Moore is more of a politican. I’m sure he ran into certain people’s houses and found many of them to be locked at 1pm in the afternoon, especially ones downtown.

    In the ‘burbs, that’s a whole different story.

  3. Frank says:

    you’re suggesting that houses in the burbs leave their doors unlocked? I spent the first 18 years of my life in the suburban wasteland, and our doors weren’t left unlocked.

  4. Garry. says:

    I’ve been living my WHOLE LIFE (nearly 22 years now) in Brampton and we leave our doors unlocked during the day. Most people (if not all) on my street leave their doors unlocked. Hell, some leave their first door closed (unlocked) but leave their second door (with all the padlocks ‘n such) gaping wide-open.

  5. Garnet says:

    Thanks for the nuanced view of Michael Moore, in a time when most feel obliged to choose either/or. I, too, would feel better if he didn’t claim to be a humorist when some challenge his accuracy, yet return to be a documentarist when the time comes to collect awards. I’d like to give him a new title: Michael Moore is a polemicist. His protege Spurlock is likewise, no?

  6. Carla says:

    I too totally think Michael Moore should just get it over with and enter the dirty realm of politics: http://…/

  7. derek says:

    A) That was my hometown where Moore was checking for unlocked doors. Yes, it’s true. We don’t lock’em. It was in Sarnia, southwestern ontario. Population 70,000. The Taco Bell part was also the closest Taco Bell to my house, and that’s how people are there.

    B) If you really want to contest MichaelMoore’s facts, check out

    C) Michael Moore is my hero, but I’m sure he spins his message, just as any mediatician does.

  8. Carla says:

    Didn’t he say though that people don’t lock their doors in Toronto? So why didn’t he jiggle doorknobs in Toronto and not a small town in Southern Ontario? And how come to show what a Toronto ghetto looks like, he ran footage of a mid-scale housing complex on The Esplanade (my friend can attest to this, her condo overlooks the area)? Lastly, I’m pretty sure is run by some right-wing group, so they might have their own biases there.

  9. Frank says:

    yeah, I’m pretty sure the ‘no one locks their doors’ was set in Toronto, or at least it was strongly implied. Either way – the message that he was trying to convey, that Canada is a super-safe country where no one has anything to fear, is a total fallacy.