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