Skip to comments.Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11 -- “Something Stupid This Way Comes”
Posted on 07/03/2004 1:24:59 PM PDT by Congressman Billybob
The lies from Michael Moores latest schlock-umentary begin before you enter the theater. On the posters out front, the movie is identified as Fahrenheit 9/11. Half the title and most of the concept were stolen without so much as a by-your-leave from the classic novel Fahrenheit 451, by the great Ray Bradbury.
A few million Americans of a certain age (and I am one) got their introductions to excellence in science fiction, and also excellence in writing English regardless of subject, from Ray Bradbury. A dark vision of the future, in which the government suppresses and destroys knowledge, appears in Bradburys book and movie, Fahrenheit 451 (1951).
The entire genre of modern horror fiction, now dominated by Stephen King, began in large measure with Bradburys Something Wicked This Way Comes (1962). King cheerfully acknowledges the literary debt he owes to the master before him, who is still writing. Moore, on the other hand, steals and abuses the work of others, and presents the result as if it were good and original. To paraphrase a Broadway review, in Moores work the parts that are original are not good, and parts that are good are not original.
Should the ill-deserved semi-success of Moores movie generate a renewed interest in Bradburys work, that would be positive. It would offer another proof, if any be needed, that well-written fiction tells more truth than a documentary produced by a hack. People who want to understand quality in modern writing could well begin with Bradburys classics. For the short story try The Illustrated Man (1951) Or try The Martian Chronicles (1950). But I digress.
Because others have plowed this ground to a fare-thee-well, this column will criticize just three dishonesties in Moores movie, and do so as much as possible using media examples. The first example is the beginning thesis of the movie, that President Bush did not win the 2000 election against Al Gore.
In the play The Producers, Max Bialystock and Leo Bloom are seeking to mount a surefire flop on Broadway. They choose the worst play, Springtime for Hitler. And they choose the worst director, Roger deBris. As Roger says in taking the assignment, The whole second act has to be rewritten. The Germans are losing the war? Thats too downbeat.
Rogers attitude about the Germans in WW II is identical to that of die-hard leftists about the Democrats in the election of 2000. Two lies are invented; first that the Supreme Court handed the election to President Bush by a 5-4 vote, and second that Gore would have won the election, had the Court not interfered. I was in the middle of that case, and filed the only brief which got the answer right on Round I: the unanimous decision of the Supreme Court to strike, or vacate, the first decision of the Florida Supreme Court.
On the first go, the US Supreme Court spoke to the Florida Supreme Court like a teacher to a poor student - I wont grade this assignment. Do it over. A careful student in that situation would see the handwriting on the wall. The Florida Supreme Court was not careful. Its rewritten decision was 4-3, with its Chief Judge in the minority warning his colleagues that the US Supreme Court would not tolerate what it was doing, which was to rewrite the Florida election laws after the election, contrary to the US Constitution.
The vote on the US Supreme Court was 7-2 that the Florida Supreme Court had violated the Constitution. Careless members of the press (a majority), and malicious Democrats (Michael Moore and Terry McAuliffe come to mind), call this a 5-4 decision of the Supreme Court. That was the vote on the correct remedy to apply; however, anyone who can read and count can see that seven Justices, not five, found that the Florida court violated the Constitution.
The second part of the Gore won lie is the claim that had the vote count continued, Gore would have won Florida and thereby won the Presidency. There were three official recounts in Florida. Gore lost all of those. After the election, there were two massive recounts conducted by the media. The second of those took a year, extensive manpower and money on behalf of a consortium of newspapers led by the (cue the celestial music) New York Times. Both of those concluded that Gore lost. The Times, of course, buried the results of its own study next to the pet obituaries since the real result was not the desired result, alas.
The second lie, which is central to Moores whole thesis, is this: Right after 9/11 President Bush spirited members of the bin Laden family out of the US as a favor to Osama bin Laden. Anyone who watched the 9/11 Commission hearings saw Richard Clarke, security advisor under Clinton and held over under President Bush, testify in front of God and everybody on this subject. Moore was well aware of Clarkes testimony, because he used parts of it in his movie.
But curiously, or not so curiously, Moore left on the cutting room floor Mr. Clarkes testimony about the bin Laden flights out of the US. Clarke said that he personally approved those flights. He also said that the people who vetted the passengers found no one of interest as a terrorist on any such flight.
The simple fact, as anyone doing research through published articles would well know, is that the patriarch of the bin Laden family was as prolific as a billy goat. He had numerous wives and a steady production of children by all of them, so he created a clan large enough to contain both capable business people, and a dedicated terrorist. In my home territory around Highlands, North Carolina, there are three families (or clans) large enough to contain both bank presidents and bank robbers, literally. And none of these had the head start on breeding variety which is offered by multiple, simultaneous wives.
In short, had Moore presented on screen this central point about the bin Laden family and its law-abiding members on the flights out of the US after planes began flying again the entire thesis of Moores movie would have been gut shot. We cant have that, now can we?
The third dishonesty I want to talk about has more to do with American society today than it does with the movie itself. Lets go back to 1964 and a TV commercial that was shown only once, then taken off the air, then entered the visual lexicon as the worst example of smear tactics.
The commercial was prepared for President Johnsons election campaign when he ran against Senator Barry Goldwater. It began in a field full of flowers, with a little girl in a pinafore dress picking and smelling a daisy. I do not remember the words of the voice-over, and doubt that any of you do either. The gist was clear, however. It concerned the risk of war if Goldwater defeated Johnson. The commercial ended with a mushroom cloud, borrowed from the H-bomb testing at Bikini Atoll, presumably obliterating the little girl, her flowers, and half the population of the US.
The reaction to that commercial was immediate and hostile. Remember the reaction in Animal House when Kent Dorfmans photo was put on the screen, and everyone booed and threw beer cans? It was like that. All the Republicans and even some of the Democrats attacked the Daisy H-bomb ad as reprehensible and beyond the pale. The commercial was yanked from broadcast, and lives on only in archives as an example of what not to do, visually, until 2004.
The emotional power of movies and television is in the images, not the words. Two images can be put cheek by jowl, and even if they are totally unrelated, the mind of the viewer will make and remember a connection. The Daisy H-bomb ad did that. So does Moores movie.
He shows scenes of happy Iraqi children, playing and flying kites under sunny skies. Those images are followed by ones of American soldiers in Iraq, picking up a reference from one soldier that he should shoot whatever moves. The clear and intended meaning in Moores hands as editor is that American soldiers are baby-killers, and Thats fine with President Bush.
Big lies like this are usually composed of related, smaller lies, just as a wall is constructed a brick at a time. Here are the two subordinate lies that go into the baby-killer lie. Life in Iraq was neither simple nor safe, before the Americans came. Just a single visual into a mass grave from the Saddam era, showing the rotting corpses of children with bullet holes in their skulls, would have destroyed that Moore lie.
The other necessary sub-lie is that American soldiers are trigger-happy. The imbedded reporters showed time and again, on live TV, the way that Americans risked their own lives to find out who were the enemy and where, and attack fighters, not civilians. Young Americans, both military and reporters, walked down the center of Iraqi streets, to draw fire and identify the enemy. These are not the actions of trigger-happy soldiers, obviously. So these images never got close to Moores film.
But the more important aspect of the baby-killer lie is the public reaction, or non-reaction, to it. Where is the press, which condemned the Lyndon Johnson ad as grossly inappropriate? In 2004 they are mostly praising as innovative and challenging a movie that spends much more time than that commercial on the same dishonest subject.
And where are the Democrat politicians who joined in condemning the Lyndon Johnson ad? Why in 2004, so many of the Democrats were off attending the D.C. opening of Moores film that Congress had to shut down official action that day, for lack of enough Democrats to conduct business as usual.
It used to be that I had some quarrel with Oliver Stone. He is legendary for building his movies around historical events, but bringing in his own additional viewpoints and facts to create quite a different slant. But even where Stone reached an entirely different conclusion than I about a historical event, Stone was and is an honest director. He states plainly that his movies are based on historical events. He does not pretend that his are documentary movies, allegedly telling the truth and nothing but the truth about the events depicted.
The lies of Michael Moore go deeper than just his movies. When he says he is a director, he lies. He is a propagandist. When he calls his movies documentaries, he lies. Leni Riefenstahl, the producer of the Hitler-praising film Triumph of the Will, was more a producer of documentaries than Moore. At least the massed and cheering Nazis that Riefenstahl celebrated really existed, and really did cheer as depicted.
While were on the movie analogy, there is one character in a recent and successful film who most resembles Michael Moore in character and style. Hes a villain in the second Austin Powers movie. Hes a self-loathing person who betrays his nation for money. Though at the end of the movie, he reaches a point of introspection to spend quality time with himself and possibly reform. There are no signs as yet that Michael Moore is capable of reforming himself, like his screen twin, the Scottish traitor Fat Bastard apparently did.
In a height of sanctimony, Moore has said he will go after all who attack him and his movie. He has claimed that his weapon will be truth. So be it, Mr. Moore. Truth at twenty paces, you name the time and place. Ill be there with a better brace of dueling pistols than you could ever imagine. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die. Oops, wrong movie.
About the Author: John Armor is a civil rights attorney who lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains. CongressmanBillybob@earthlink.net
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F.Y.I. and for pinging as you choose.
John / Billybob
Fat Bastard, perfect!!
Fat Bastard is how I refer to him too.
So far, Farenheit has earned 44 mill. What shocks me is that Shrek did better than the Passion of the Christ with 400 mill while Passion made domestically 380 mill. Whats up with that?
I'm stealing this here fine article of yours and sending it directly to our local Art Nouveau Movie Theater.
The theater's owner got some terrific unpaid advertising for this film last week by getting a large section of the front page in our local
fishwrap, uh, newspaper (a subsidiary of the New York Times, of course). Appearing in photo and print in an openly tortured, personally introspective and beard-wagging article, he publicly struggled with the "difficult" decision whether to run this "controversial" film, or not.
Despite my proffered advice and those of others, he has quite reluctantly, with a agonized conscience, but in deference to "popular opinion" (he also took a "poll) decided to air this
propaganda piece historic movie for all to see (and pay for, naturally).
We shall see if he likes your humble opinion on Lumpy Riefenstahl's nasty paste-job more than mine.
I hope you don't mind, seein's how we're jest neighbors 'n almost kin!
Very Good !!....BTTT
An awful lot of children went to see Shrek II where as thousands of young people were not taken to see The Passion - Shrek is entertainment for all ages, Gibson's Passion is not, albeit, a marvelous history for a mature audience.
Good stuff! You cast a wide literary net.
The Wreck of the Michael bin Larden
Oops. Didn't include any text. Dang.
Actually that line is: "That whole third act has got to go. They're losing the war. It's too depressing."
John / Billybob
Thanks for the article, I will be sure to print it out for a few of my co-workers who think Moore has all the answers.
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