by Jan Lundberg
July 4, Berkeley There was no better day for me to see and review the Michael Moore film Fahrenheit 9/11 than the Fourth of July. Later I did some creek restoration no fireworks, hotdogs or flags for me. But on this Fourth, one can detect some popular political resistance afoot that could build toward demilitarizing U.S. society. Such a movement for change would have to go beyond who wins the next election if the world is to have a fighting chance.
Although I literally applauded this film, it would seem that Moore can only go so far in questioning not just U.S. society but our basic way of life and our relationship with nature. The challenge for most viewers is to keep in mind or discover that social justice is not everything, when our culture says it is okay to use up the Earth "peacefully."
I went to Fahrenheit 9/11 with the expectation of not being extremely impressed. But the film, ranging beyond 9/11 itself, succeeds in getting very close to the players, especially "W" and ordinary people such as folks in Flint, Michigan, the outraged, mutilated Iraqis, and U.S. invaders all of whom pay the price for war-mongering and corporate profiteering. Moore and his film have articulated, for the biggest opposition bloc since the Vietnam War, a compassionate and outraged stance against war, the U.S. government and society's ruling elite.
The scariest aspect of the movie may be the convincing portrayal of George W. Bush as not a very intelligent or articulate man. The pretend-game played by compliant news-media people is shameful when they know Bush to be barely able to get across a coherent thought without a script on most occasions. A more damning conclusion is that the people of the U.S. aren't on average much smarter than W, as proven by the state of the nation and the War OF Terror is only one problem facing us all.
Moore looked at the bigger picture than what really happened on September 11, 2001, such that there was surprisingly little on the actual event. But Moore put September 11 into historical context as, for example, he covered related events such as the U.S. takeover of what I now call Unocalistan.
Politics covered well
I clapped for the film at its close along with everyone else in the large, packed theatre. The film's flaws seemed too minor to begrudge. I didn't mind being talked down to if the movie uplifted people and maintained humor. What I do feel compelled to bring up is what else can be said to an awakening victim of the American Ruse, as the rock group MC5 described the ruling status quo's brutality and notions of morality. I will get to my critique after dispensing with final political concerns:
Moore may have led people to imagine that better politicians, such as honest ones against war, are the answer.
One of my correspondents was recently hit on his bike by an SUV, shattering his ankle. He saw Fahrenheit 9/11, and here's what he told me
Back to politics-as-usual: It was instructive that the film opened
with the U.S. Senate's and Al Gore's refusal to challenge the results of the
Presidential election based on Florida fraud and the need for a recount.
Moore could have said more: under the Constitution the Senate ratifies the
election, and the Senate could have refused to do so with the Democratic Party majority
that was only enabled with Gore as
the President of the Senate voting as well. Why this did not happen
suggests that the Democrats deliberately threw the election to the Bush
team. This in turn suggests that the American Ruse is built on the
two-party system's being one, cynical ruling clique. This was further
exhibited by the Democrats' later pro-war and pro-Patriot Act positions.
In 1964 there appeared to be a clear choice between a war-like Barry Goldwater and the apparently pro-peace Lyndon Johnson. However, Johnson gave us Goldwater's war in Vietnam. The peace movement got fooled, but apart from finally coming up with George McGovern for President, the movement can be said to have not learned about candidates. Perhaps the defeat of McGovern should have told the movement that real change needs to flow from the streets rather than at the ballot.
In the history of U.S. presidential elections, there may have never been a
really alternative candidate. If that's what democracy is, it's a
failure. Either we redefine democracy or we come up with a better term for
what we want. If it's a matter of "the less government the
better" as an American ideal, there is that slogan "There's no
government like no government!"
For more reviews of Fahrenheit 9/11, see
Next Culture Change Letter essay: How fukked is the average U.S. citizen?
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