Saturday, June 26, 2004Fahrenheit 9/11, part I
It's an intense experience, seeing all your anxieties, all your anger, all your disappointment and disillusionment projected onto a movie screen. It's an enormous relief, finally seeing all that you've thought finally, finally stated plainly and publicly in a form that can't be ignored. Dismissed by some, yes; ragefully denied by others, yes. But they're going to feel it, by god; they're going to hear it whether they like it or not.
This is why American liberals love Michael Moore: he's an imperfect filmmaker, and often does things we wish he wouldn't. But more often, he's doing what we all want to do ourselves, but can't; what we all desperately need to see to be done. When others vascillate and avoid controversy, Michael Moore is there saying what we're all thinking. He's the only one of our speakers who is genuinely unafraid.
This film is without a doubt his best; I'll talk about that in greater depth in a separate post. It's not without flaws and weak spots, but finally Michael Moore is pissed off enough to (mostly) forego his usual theatrics, and finally he has found a story so compelling that it he doesn't feel the need to stand in its way as he often does. He shows us the footage that the American press has neglected, or that the Bush administration has been unwilling to release: this is what Baghdad looks like from the inside when bombs are dropping; this is what a dead Iraqi child looks like; here's a maimed soldier to look at, to listen to. And here's your leader, chumming it up with those who really did harbor terrorists; here's your leader sitting useless while his nation was attacked; here's your leader gloating over carnage; here's your leader brushing off his failure to capture those responsible. Do you like what you see? What will you do about it?
In Fahrenheit 9/11 Moore has finally managed to express why the American left is so angry at the Bush administration. Does the right really think it's because we "hate America," because we don't support the troops, because we love terrorists and Saddam Hussein? Are they blind? Are they that gullible? We're angry because after our country was victimized once, by evil men who came seemingly out of nowhere to kill thousands of people, our anguish and our faith in the man who, for better or worse, was now our leader was taken and coldly used for the benefit not of our country, but for the benefit of that same leader and those close to him. Our credibility in the world was destroyed, our freedom at home was reduced, we were terrorized not only by those who'd attacked us but by those who purported to protect us, our treasury was pillaged and our children indebted, our troops were killed, many innocents were slaughtered in our name, we were broadly maligned as terrorist-coddlers and American-haters, and our faith in everything that we had been told was good about our imperfect country was badly shaken. After we were victimized once by Osama and his boys, the Bush administration came along and victimized us a second time. The man who was meant to protect us merely finished the job our attackers began.
So, you bet your fucking ass we're pissed off, and there are more of us than you think. We will not let you get away with it.
I have no illusions that anyone who supports Bush or who supported this godforsaken war will go see this film, or that if they do, they'll change their views as a result of it. But I think it's important that they see: this is what your unquestioning loyalty has wrought. If all you watch is Fox News, you have not even begun to see the reality of this war; your John Wayne fantasies bear little relationship to the war as it actually exists. If Rush Limbaugh is all you have heard of the Bush administration, you have not faced the truth of what it is you support. This isn't about blowjobs and what the meaning of the word "is" is; this is about the failure of all that America is supposed to mean, this is about my ability to ever hold my head up in the world as a citizen of this country. This is about our collective humanity.
While you were droning on and on about patriotism and supporting the troops, while you were accusing us of not being "American" enough, you missed the point: you are speaking of being an "American," but we're talking about being human.
(Note: this post is comprised of my emotional, visceral response to the film. A more critical, intellectual post will follow soon.)