Monday, June 28, 2004
Stirrin' the pot

Michael Moore is a common name: New Zealand had a prime minister called Michael Moore, who later went on to be head of the World Trade Organisation. In a previous job I had a boss called Michael Moore (different guy). And I was at high school with a guy called Michael Moore (different guy again.) How many Michael Moores do you know?

Anyway, the Moore of the moment sure is causing a fuss. Even over here in Australia - where Fahrenheit 9/11 has not even been released yet! The Australian newspaper ran a slightly abridged version of the Hitchens critique on Saturday morning, and today the letters page was full of indignant responses to Hitchens (one or two of which were by people who actually claimed to have seen the movie.)

It's no surprise that dyed-in-the-wool small-l liberals are just loving the movie, but when we have self-described "ultra-conservatives" saying things like this:

The film itself very much reflects its creator: It's shaggy, flabby, occasionally witty, and frequently infuriating. It will have a HUGE impact because Moore – his facile leftist economics notwithstanding – has nailed his case against the Bush regime flush to the plank. It will be all but impossible for anybody who sits still and watches this film to view Bush the Lesser as anything other than a petty, spiteful, dim-witted, bloody-handed little fool – and the figurehead of a murderous power elite. This explains why the Bu'ushists are threatening to go Abu Ghraib on Moore: They're busted. source

then you know something big is happening. (Now, ere you start to think perhaps the twain have met, out of fairness please go and read this post from the same site as the above.)

One more quote, which is the one that I will probably have in the back of my mind when I eventually get to see the movie:

The theatrical poster for "Fahrenheit 9/11" (which even Moore's critics must admit is pretty darn clever) features a heavily doctored photo of a smiling Moore holding hands with President Bush above a tagline which reads -- "Controversy . . . what controversy?" It's funny enough on a superficial level but even funnier in an ironic sense, because the two men actually have more in common than either of them would probably care to admit.
You see, both Moore and Bush are masters of oversimplification. They can take complex situations, trim out all the facts that contradict one particular point of view, and then convincingly present what remains as the one correct way to view the situation.


This whole Iraq/terrorism/war/Bush thing is not black and white. It is many many nuances of grey. Earlier today I read an article in the paper about a small businessman in Baghdad who is doing very well these days selling CDs. J Lo in particular is very popular. Lots and lots of people in Baghdad now apparently have mobile phones - there were none a year ago. (I could probably send someone a text message right now!) People talk about the banality of evil, but the sheer ordinariness of J-Lo and the mobile phones got me thinking that it can't be all death, destruction, mayhem and beheadings over there right now.

I've periodically seen opinion polls quoted, which report that a large proportion of the Iraqi people (even a majority, perhaps) say that their lives are better now than they were before the war. I don't know whether it's actually true that people think that, or whether it's simply true that the respondents said such things to pollsters while thinking something else, or whether such polls are all complete bullshit. And that kind of sums it up for me a lot of the time. I just don't know.

On to something altogether more amusing. Ever wonder who Hillary Clinton was named after? Wonder no more.
7:08 AM ::
Mr Smithers :: permalink