You either hate him or love him. That seems to be the consensus about Michael Moore. This is regrettable, because Fahrenheit 9/11 is not only a well-crafted movie, but relies mostly on facts that have been previously reported and proven as accurate. The points made in the movie should not be dismissed easily.
Maybe it’s just me being a political junkie, but half the times Moore used a clip to illustrate a point in his movie I laughed or groaned before the rest of the audience simply because I had seen the footage elsewhere before.
Claims such as the one that the Bush family has ties with the bin Ladens are nothing new. Craig Unger’s book House of Bush, House of Saud: The Secret Relationship Between the World’s Two Most Powerful Dynasties, while not sporting as catchy a title, showed the same connections and has ranked high on several bestseller lists since its publication in March. Unger himself even appears in the movie, distilling his findings down into a few sentences to supplement the clips.
Yet, heavy criticism of the movie began before people had even seen it. Even the title drew criticisms from no other than science-fiction icon Ray Bradbury, who complained Moore had hijacked the title of his acclaimed (yet incredibly boring) book Fahrenheit 451 and was using it in ways of which he did not approve. When asked if he had seen the movie, he said he hadn’t, but this was a matter of principle.
There is also a lawsuit pending alleging promotion for the movie backs presumed Democratic candidate John Kerry’s campaign and is therefore guilty of illegal campaign promotion. The commercial in question shows President George W. Bush standing on a golf course surrounded by press calling on countries to join his war on terror before he quips, “Now watch this drive!” He then turns around and drives a golf ball.
If anybody deserves to be criticized for the clip, along with most of the others used in the movie, it is Bush for making a statement like this in such a moronic way to begin with.
Moore has called the lawsuit free publicity and said he would be “sending them a nice holiday card this year.”
But the most interesting thing about this movie is how worked up Bush supporters are getting about it. The movie polarized the American public pretty much along party lines with arguments and facts already published or used elsewhere. In a way, you could ask what all the fuss is about.
To understand why the White House fears a two-hour movie so much you will probably have to see it in theaters and see an audience react to it.
The controlled environment of the movie theater gives Moore a place to present his case against Bush to a more or less captive audience. For the duration of the movie, one man’s opinion is presented more in-depth than the sound-byte-oriented media culture we have become so accustomed to allows anybody.
The medium of film also allows Moore to show certain things in a more convincing way than any talk show or newspaper ever could. To say Bush seemed scared and unsure of what to do immediately after his chief of staff told him “the country is under attack” is one thing, but to actually show on film how the self-proclaimed “strong leader” and “war president” remained sitting in an elementary school classroom in Sarasota as part of a photo-op for more than 7 minutes immediately following the attacks drives the point home much more effectively.
The Bush administration is very good at issuing comments of the “what official X actually meant to say…” nature, but in this case it’s out of their hands. The White House will hardly be able to dispatch a spokesperson to every theater to put their spin on the events depicted.
If the $21.8 million the movie grossed since Wednesday, even after Disney, various Republican controlled groups and others had put roadblocks in the movie’s release path, says anything, it’s that the voting public is willing to go see it. It’s the highest-grossing documentary of all time.
So it’s not surprising the White House fears this movie; it’s a force to be reckoned with.
Sebastian Meyer is a junior majoring in geography and an Oracle Opinion editor.