6.27.2004

9-11 is not a joke

saw fahrenheit 9/11 yesterday.

overall, it wasn't as heavy handed as i thought it was going to be. even more surprising was that michael moore himself really isn't in the movie that much. maybe this is related but it also isn't as funny as other michael moore films.

in any case, i won't get bogged down in telling you what the movie is about or which side he's taking. that much should be pretty obvious. there are three things that i did want to point out that are semi-related.

1. there are two points where i think that he unfairly indicts popular culture, one in relation to the war and one where i think he's just trying to be funny. first, there's a scene where he shows that the soliders listening to agressive metal type music to get them psyched up for their fighting in iraq. people might argue with me, but i think that he's saying that there's an indirect relation to violent music and violent actions. to me it seems that he's saying that because these soldiers are listening to violent music to get them rapmed up, that the music must help them to be violent. when in bowling for columbine, he takes a lot of time to show that marilyn manson did not cause klebold and harris to shoot up the kids. i know he never says that violent music causes violent soldiers or anything, but then why even put that scene in the movie? why put those two elements together unless you are trying to say something about their relationship to each other? again, i think this begs the question how much is michael moore creating a propaganda piece than he is trying to reveal truth or whatever here. after all, it seems that he is using his arguments selectively - the media/behavior link is no good in bowling for columbine, but it's good here?

2. there's a scene where he shows britney spears saying in an interview that she thinks that we should trust the president. i think his point here was to show how people are generally uninformed and that it's reached such big proportions that even britney spears is aiding in the public opinion wrangling process. maybe he was just trying to be funny here, but it really doesn't make any sense to me to use britney here, other than to use her as a symbol of ignorance. granted, she's not the smartest person in the world, but i also don't think that she's the dumbest. plenty of people feel the way she does, country music artists, rappers, whatever. why not use them instead of relying on the bimbo stereotype to convey his message. i guess it's a lose-lose situation for him, since if he used rappers he'd be relying on bad stereotypes about black people, but i think britney doesn't get enough credit for being a successful female. she's dumb, but thom yorke and madonna are dumb in many ways as well and people really don't seem to pick on them. again, i think he's picking his targets because they're easy targets, not necessarily the best or most enlightening ones.

3. at the end, he got real heavy handed with a depiction of a mother who used to back the war until her son died. she does a lot of crying and what not, and there's this scene where she says she wants to direct her anger at the white house. it definitely shows the emotional impact of losing someone to a war that really doesn't make any sense, but at the same time, i think michael moore was also using it to show how ordinary people should get mad at bush. what i think kinda got lost at the end is earlier in the movie, it shows her telling the camera that she thought that the armed forces were a good idea for her children and she encouraged them to join. what i keep telling people is that you get what you sign up for. instead of accepting her share of the responsibility, michael moore seems to be exhorting us to blame bush. i say, by all means, blame bush, he bears much of the responsibility, but does he really bear any more responsibility than any of us. what are we really doing to try and stop him? and why did we wait so long? maybe i'm being over the top here, but that lady bears as much responsibility for not thinking enough about the whole deal enough to tell her son not to enlist as those who enlisted him. too much "what about me?" on her part.

which brings me to my final summary of the movie. it's a nice movie and for the most part, i agree whole-heartedly with the spirit of the movie. god help us if w. gets elected again. but is anyone's mind going to be changed with this movie? are conservatives or war hawks going to go see this movie? more importantly, are any non-political people going to see this movie and be affected to do something they otherwise wouldn't have, and vote. i guess the media attention that it's getting will help that alot, but ultimately, i think we're all prisoners of our ideology. movies don't affect us as much as we hope and i just don't know how many people will do anything as a result of the movie. not that that is what movies are supposed to do, but i think it's obvious that is what michael moore wants to happen. it seems to me that the things that gets people to change their mind in this country is when something affects them (the lady in the movie with the dead son being a prime example). or ironically enough, when people have to ask, "what about me?" i can't think of a time when people ever did something for the good of the whole until it came home to roost. no one did anything (i mean really did anything) about vietnam until the body bags and the war footage was shown. maybe this movie is a necessary step in getting there, but i think it's naive to think that we're getting out of the whole mid-east situation until things get much worse in terms of casualties. that and the fact that there really are terrorists who keep cutting people's heads off.

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