Propaganda seems to be hot these days

I'm always behind the times in recognizing new trends. Apparently, the latest trend I've missed (until now) is America's hunger for propaganda. I seem to be one of the only people in the country who hasn't already seen Fahrenheit 9/11, since it was #1 at the box office this past weekend, taking in more than $21 million. That easily beats the record for highest-grossing "documentary" previously held by Michael Moore's previous film, Bowling for Columbine. Since Fahrenheit 9/11 only cost $6 million to produce and $10 million to market, it's already in the black financially. The Disney suits must really be kicking themselves, since they passed on the movie, while Around the World in 80 Days is dying a very expensive death at the box office.

Despite all the "record breaking" I keep hearing about, the problem I'm having is that Fahrenheit 9/11 isn't really a documentary. How do we know this? Because Michael Moore said so: "[The film is] my opinion based on fact." In other words, he's taking the facts (at least the ones he chooses to use) in a specific direction. A true documentary filmmaker simply presents the facts with as little bias and prejudice as possible, and the viewers decide for themselves what to believe. Does that sound like Michael Moore's approach? Unlike Moore's films, true documentaries are actually subtle sometimes. Moore's idea of subtlety is riding through Washington D.C. in an ice cream truck, reading the Patriot Act through the loudspeaker. That's not documentary filmmaking; that's grandstanding. Documentary filmmakers do not grandstand. Entertainers do. I saw a TV interview with Moore where he said he didn't think his film would sway people one way or the other. In other words, you would come out of the theater feeling the same way towards President Bush as you did before you went in. How, then, does the film accomplish anything? Maybe I'm missing something, but isn't the whole point of documentaries to raise awareness? Unless, of course, Moore's film isn't really a documentary...

After the crowds die down, I plan to see the movie (matinee showing, of course). It's not so much that I want to put money in Moore's pocket, but I think it's only fair that if I criticize the film so much, I should at least go and see it. It's hard to give objective criticism on something you haven't seen, no matter how right you think you may be.

On a side note, I think the current effort to classify Moore's film as a political ad is laughable. If we start going down that slippery slope, we may never be able to see a film that remotely deals with politics again. Okay, I agree that both political ads and Moore's films pick and choose facts that satisfy their agendas, but you can watch political ads for free on TV, while you have to pay admission to see Moore's film. And honestly, do you really think there's anyone out there who does not clearly understand what this movie is about? Besides, the conservative filmmakers out there (all three of them) are free to come out with their own movies two months before the election (which is the approximate DVD release date for Fahrenheit 9/11). Let's suppose the film does make a difference at election time. Either way, we end up with a president who is too filthy rich to understand how tough life has become for working stiffs. I'll say more about this after I see the movie, but it seems to me that Moore is so busy attacking Bush that he has forgotten who his own party's candidate is.

Source: E! Online


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