Friday, June 25, 2004

Mike's Movie

So, I went to the first showing of Farenheit 9/11 here in town so I could actually know what I'm talking about when it comes up for discussion.

There are basically two movies here. The first is what I imagine Moore started working on sometime between Afghanistan and Iraq, on the Bush administration's use of the war on terror for political purposes, their attacks on civil liberties, etc... And, then, the second is what he did in the aftermath of the Iraq war.

As other critics have pointed out, it's really only the first half that feels like a Michael Moore movie. Even in this part, the nitpicker brigade is really grasping at straws to try and catch Moore in "lies." There's nothing in Moore's movie which is even as close to dishonest as Isikoff's article about the movie's "dishonesty" is.

The second part is really unassailable - there's very little Moore. It's mostly footage from Iraq, and of wounded soldiers, intercut with discussions with a woman who lost her son. I also agree with the many critics who have said that this is the more effective part of the movie - it is. There's little spin here to criticize, the footage stands on its own.

It's good. Go see it.

...and this review, by someone on "our side," has it totally wrong. Consider this pargraph:

But then the film begins to, well, spread out a bit, like a fat man in a big chair. And here Moore gets into trouble. Contradictions run rampant: The war on Afghanistan was a deliberate distraction, but we didn’t send enough troops there; homeland-security policy tramples on our civil liberties but is then too lax; Bush is both a cowboy dummy and a master puppeteer of diversionary wars and a media-fueled culture of fear. Where there isn’t a contradiction, there’s a gaping hole: What, pray tell, are we to do about our very real problems? What should we do instead, in this infernal struggle against fundamentalism, in the mess of Iraq?

Moore's point about both the war in Afghanistan and the civil liberties issues, which can be agreed or disagreed with, was that the Bush administration wasn't particularly serious about combatting terrorism. There was no contradiction in pointing out Big Things the Bushies have done in the name of "fighting terrorism," and then pointing out rather obvious cheap and easy things which they've failed to do. Moore wasn't simultaneously arguing that they're "too tough" or "too weak" - that's the way conservatives frame the issue - it's that they've both been bad at it and done bad things in the name of it.