Friday, November 11, 2011
(June 2004, U.S.)
The opening lines of director and narrator Michael Moore's documentary FAHRENHEIT 9/11 go something like this...
"Was it all just a dream? Did the last four years not really happen?"
Well, to put it simply, that's how I've more or less felt about most of the first decade of the 20th Century. I didn't always, though. From the moment the ball started to drop at Times Square on January 1, 2000 and we had gotten past our paranoia of Y2K, I was filled with a great (and rare!) sense of optimism for the future. Why wouldn't I be? I was young (younger), I was healthy, I was loving my job, I already knew that I wanted to marry my girlfriend someday (I did!) and I saw no reason whatsoever why Al Gore wouldn't be our next president of the United States.
(OOPS! Looks like the state of Florida managed to fuck that up for us!)
Even if we put aside the events of September 11, 2001 and our useless invasion of Iraq, take a brief tally of all we've had to endure in the first decade of the 20th Century and you'll likely be sickened by all that you come up with - anthrax in the U.S. mail, Richard Reid the shoe bomber, the D.C. sniper, lies about weapons of mass destruction, the Enron scandal, pedifile priests, Hurricane Katrina, our economic meltdown, Lady Gaga...I could go on forever...and it seems that in dark shadows of it all was the man I can only hope history will conclude as being the worst U.S. president in history, GEORGE W. BUSH! Damn, no wonder Time magazine called the 00's the "worst decade ever"! They were right!
So, for the benefit of those of you who haven't spent too much of their cinematic viewing time on documentaries, Michael Moore takes a very critical look at the presidency of George W. Bush, the War on Terror, and its coverage in the news media. Moore contends that American corporate media were "cheerleaders" for the 2003 invasion of Iraq and didn't provide an accurate or objective analysis of the rationale for the war or the resulting casualties there. The film generated intense controversy, including some disputes over its accuracy. Moore responds by documenting his many sources. Still, even with all these sources and the proof he attempts to provide on film, his allogations ultimately come down to the simple fact of whether or not the viewer believes it all or not. Do I believe it ALL? Not likely. To believe EVERY word of it would be to likely believe that our lame govenment not only ignored the warnings of the impending attack on U.S. soil, but also had a hand in ALLOWING it to happen, as well. For me, to accept that sort of horror would just be too, well, unacceptable. The rest of it, though, I can totally accept. Govenment, in my opinion, has always been rotten to the bone. Under Bush's command, though, the traditional brand of vile corruption just seem to take on a whole new incomprehensible horror.
Now as much as I despise George W. Bush, would you believe that there was a very brief period of time when I absolutely loved the man? I'm not kidding! In the weeks following 9-11, I had convinced myself that in the spirit of Ronald Reagan, Bush was going to kick the living shit out of our enemies who had attacked us. And when he showed up at Yankee Stadium to throw out the first pitch at one of the games during the World Series, that did it for me! I thought to myself, "This is it! This is going to be one of the greatest presidents of all time!" Instead of that, we decided to go to war with the wrong enemy - a people who had never attacked the United States before, nor had they ever threatened to attack the United States before.
Michael Moore is not a filmmaker that I would say I'm willing to cling to every word and allogation that comes out of his mouth. His look at the Bush administration and the powers that tore our country to Hell serve, if nothing more, than a tool to inflame your rage and hatred for a presidnet you may or may not have already come to hate. For myself, after I saw FAHRENHEIT 9/11 during the Summer of 2004, I was actually deluded enough to think that the film was powerful enough to possibly swing the coming November 2004 elections toward the Democratic party. Geez, look how wrong I was! EIGHT LONG YEARS WITH GEORGE W. BUSH!!! Uughh!!!
Well, that's all over now. We made history by electing our first African-American president, we finally killed Osama Bin Laden, and most importantly, we may have finally figured out that the first African-American (and Democrat) president is as capable of being just as good, bad, intelligent, clueless, effective or useless as any other U.S. president we've had in our history.
Favorite line or dialogue: (being that today is Veteran's Day, I can think of nothing more appropriate from the film)
Michael Moore narrating: "I've always been amazed that the very people forced to live in the worst parts of town, go to the worst schools, and who have it the hardest are always the first to step up, to defend that very system. They serve so that we don't have to. They offer to give up their lives so that we can be free. It is remarkably their gift to us. And all they ask for in return is that we never send them into harm's way unless it's absolutely necessary. Will they ever trust us again?"
"Keep on rockin' in the free world!" (Neil Young, 1989)