Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004) — Michael Moore wages war on the War on Terror

“I’m trying to get members of Congress to get their kids to enlist in the army and go over to Iraq.”

Kyle’s rating: Don’t blame me: I voted for Gore

Kyle’s review: I don’t want to get all political here, nor do I want to foist my personal politics on you, so let me just lay out a handy guide for how I think Fahrenheit 9/11 will be responded to by various members of our society. Those who inhabit the rabid right will never see it anyway; neither will those close to the middle but still to the right of it who just plain hate Michael Moore. Those in the middle who hate Michael Moore might still see it out of curiosity or a desire to “know the facts” and will probably enjoy it, since this particular Moore documentary features less Moore than his other works and allows the facts and the important figures to speak for themselves. Those to the left of the middle will see it, regardless of Moore love, because they just want to: they will enjoy it. The far left have already seen it multiple times, and already love it. Finally, those who think “President” George W. Bush is the biggest idiot of our times and the worst possible blight to be currently inflicted upon the world (the new millennium’s Macarena), will really, really enjoy Fahrenheit 9/11, regardless of their politics or party affiliation.

I really, really enjoyed Fahrenheit 9/11.

I don’t want to give too much content away. I do want to raise a few very important points, however. A lot of the professional reviews that are out there help to create a schizophrenic perspective about this work. Some say that it will be boring to you, because it just recycles facts and ideas that have been discussed endlessly on television and in print. Some say that it sheds new light on information you might not know, and that it expertly blends past injustices with evidence of modern corruption to show a consistent pattern of malfeasance that seems to plague Bush family males and their business/political partners. A whole lot of people say that Fahrenheit 9/11 is pure propaganda, with a clear agenda on Moore’s part to use facts (always distorted and misinterpreted) to smear “President” Bush and attempt to persuade the country to throw Bush out of office. One or two distasteful critics mention that Moore is overweight, and seem to imply that fat people are inherently untrustworthy, while one critic I read before I went off to see the first local showing of Fahrenheit 9/11 said that the film was really maudlin and purposely sappy, and that James Garner was the only good thing about the film (he may have been talking about The Notebook, which one girl bought a ticket for and got snickered at by the hardcore democrats in line behind me. Sorry, romantic girl!).

To all of that above paragraph, I say “duh!” I say that because I forgot what I wrote, and it’s too convoluted for me to want to reread, and I can’t believe you made your way through it. You just skipped down to here, didn’t you? That’s okay. Here’s the important thing to remember: of course Michael Moore knew that Fahrenheit 9/11 could play an important part in Election 2004. He knew that it would make Bush look like a (bigger) fool. That’s kinda the whole point. And personally, I hate to go conspiracy theorist on you all, but I tend to think that some of the negative critical response to Moore’s work is specifically designed to lessen the work’s impact and make you think you don’t really need to see it, because you already have all the facts. I hope you know I don’t mean to purposely denigrate you when I say: nope, you don’t have all the facts. A few people who read this might truly be dedicated to the Truth and to knowing current events to the point of reading the books and studies and web pages that talk about the Bush family’s ties to the bin Laden family, and the other fascinating and largely horrifying factoids that Fahrenheit 9/11 dredges up out of the muck and into the light. Otherwise, I don’t care how much CNN or Los Angeles Times or whatever coverage you’ve been absorbing daily for the past four years: I’m willing to bet that you haven’t been fed the information Moore is working with in as pure a manner as this work provides it in.

Well, okay, Fahrenheit 9/11 is manipulative and you have to allow that there is more complexity to most of its issues to be able to faithfully render in such right/wrong terms as Moore’s work does. But I trust Moore on this one. I know that he’s going after Bush passionately, and I know that Moore has a gift in crafting his documentaries in such a humorous and palatable way that I buy into his point-of-view at the expense of considering the other side, until much later and I start to wonder what Moore left out of the equation to keep his vision pure. Like I said, there is some manipulation going on. But I also know that there is a lot that the Bush administration is keeping from the American people, and I know that Bush is smarter than… okay, the people behind Bush are smarter than they’d like us to think, and there is more grifters kind of stuff going on in America than there is in the film The Grifters (that a lotta griftin’!). So I’m the type that watches Fahrenheit 9/11, loves it, walks out and simultaneously starts planning to way to help improve the world *cough*vote for Kerry*cough*tell your friends*cough* and figuring out when I’m next going to see Fahrenheit 9/11.

Because you know what? Forgetting about politics or election years or agendas for a moment, let me just say this: Fahrenheit 9/11 is a really fun work to experience, and I’m pretty sure it will hold up on rewatching. Yes, it deals with very real, very painful topics. But it’s an interesting, no, fascinating documentary with all kinds of humor and sadness and empathy and expert editing and stand-up-and-applaud lean-back-and-wipe-your-tears moments. A lot of the criticism, positive and negative, revolves around the positioning of Fahrenheit 9/11 in the world of politics. In the world of entertainment and intelligent thought, Fahrenheit 9/11 is inhabiting rare air because it is stupendously great and provides a kind of blueprint for independent thought and personal action. In the DC Comics world of Batman and Superman, Michael Moore would have made Fahrenheit Apokolips, a scathing documentary about the evil cosmic dictator Darkseid and his crimes against Earth and its citizens.

In our reality, Moore’s target is “President” Bush: a less cosmic target, to be sure, but the beauty of Fahrenheit 9/11 is that Moore pretty much approach Bush and his cohorts as if they were comic book supervillains. Ineffectual democrats don’t escape Moore’s wrath either, but (being a comic book geek) I think of this work as less a piece of propaganda and more a rudimentary piece of anti-Bush kryptonite. It’s Moore honest response to Bush as his leader, and the beauty of America is that Moore can make it and show it to anyone who wants to see it.

I love America, I like Michael Moore, and I love Fahrenheit 9/11. If you have any feelings (positive or negative) about America I urge you to see Fahrenheit 9/11 as well, and then make up your own mind as to whether Moore is a lying blowhard or if he might have a salient point going here. No pressure or anything, it’s not like the fate of the free world revolves around your response to Fahrenheit 9/11. Or does it…

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