Movie Review: Fahrenheit 9/11

Posted by Arlo on Jul 26, 2004 under Movie Reviews

Fahrenheit 9/11 Movie PosterI’m apolitical. I don’t vote, and I try not to bitch. Politics have always been outside my realm of interest. They just seem to get people so worked up out about things that, often, they feel powerless to do anything about. I don’t need that kind of stress in my life.

It’s not that I don’t believe in this little democracy experiment that we call America – in fact, I trust it so completely that I’ve never seen the need to vote. I’m fully confident that, collectively, the voting population of our country has my best interest at heart. I’ve always told myself that I would register to vote if and when something important enough comes up on the ballot, but the truth of the matter is that I have yet to see any significant change to my lifestyle based on who’s holding office.

Despite having had a politically-motivated girlfriend years ago, I still managed to shy away from political discussions (much to her exasperation!) In retrospect, that was probably due more to my lack of information than anything else – in college I didn’t read the newspaper, listen to the radio, or even watch much TV (except for, of course, Star Trek, The Simpsons, and the X-Files!) Ignorance is bliss.

A few years ago, I realized how horrible our music stations are in Juneau and I began tuning my car radio to our local AM talk station, instead. My commute time is roughly 3 minutes, though, so this new window to the world of current events was relatively small. Each day I learned a little bit more about politics from the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Michael Regan, and Laura Ingram on longer drives to the store or on my lunch break. Eventually I discovered that talk radio is very heavily conservatively biased. I’m almost ashamed to say how long it took me to realize that – having had no political background to speak of, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you Conservative:Republican :: Liberal:Democrat. All I knew was that I didn’t often agree with the sentiments I heard on the AM band. (Yes, I’m aware of NPR. But both sources are strongly biased and I believe that an open mind can and will see through both sides. In that sense, I guess it doesn’t matter who you listen to.)

Crap. This was supposed to a short movie review for Fahrenheit 9/11.

Anyway, I don’t have anything to pronounce about Michael Moore’s heavily-biased-against-George-Bush film that hasn’t already been said better elsewhere (by both sides). Suffice it to say that, after all the hype, I didn’t find anything in it that was all that surprising.

Call me a cynic, but I’ve always had the viewpoint that every American president has controversy surrounding them. Sure, some will go down in history as better than others, but the nature of politics encourages all sorts of double-dealings, secrets, backroom deals, and, most certainly, money. Pointing these things out about George W. Bush only left me thinking, “Yeah. So? Dig deep enough and I’m sure you can find the same things out about any president.”

Unfortunately for the Democrats who would love to see Bush ousted in November, I think that Michael Moore did his campaign a bit of a disservice by creating a movie so blatantly opposed to Bush’s administration. I believe his “documentary” would have had far more weight if it was presented simply (and artfully) as fact – as opposed to being framed as an attack. Too often, the unending assault on Bush’s character made me question what was being selectively left out.

While I felt mostly put on guard by Fahrenheit 9/11’s “preaching to the choir,” I did find myself reacting to a few select scenes. Notably, the president’s hesitation in the classroom after hearing about the second attack on the World Trade Center was a strong demonstration of Michael Moore’s argument that, without his aides telling him what to do, Bush is not a decisive president. Granted, there was a heavy amount of spin in that scene, but I found it hard to get over the fact that he sat there for seven full minutes after hearing the news.

Also, the focus on the war against Iraq got to me. While I wasn’t bothered much by the callousness of the soldiers (Again; call me a cynic, but I strongly believe that when put into a detestable situation, people do detestable things), the footage of the dead and dying was painful to witness. Worse than that, though, was the footage of the mothers, on both sides, who struggled with the news of their sons’ and relatives’ death.

There is tragedy in any war – Fahrenheit 9/11 even shows us how it can change the hearts of our own soldiers in the battlefield. As much as I want to believe that all 6 billion of us could get along without blowing the shit out of each other, intellectually I remind myself that there is a legitimate time and place for war.

If Michael Moore convinced me of one thing with his inflammatory movie, it’s that this particular war with Iraq is unwarranted.

Trivial Thought: It’s wonderful that we live in a country where a movie like this can be shown, but with so many wackos out there, I’m surprised that there hasn’t been an assassination attempt on either Bush or Moore by now.
What did I find worthwhile about the movie? The well-stated argument that it’s our lowest-income bracket that enlists to defend our country’s freedoms.
Would I recommend the movie? Yes, to anyone politically minded – Democrat or Republican. I can understand the desire not to support Michael Moore financially, but he’s given free reign to download it on the Internet. Republicans: Your arguments against the movie will carry more weight if you actually watch it first.
Will I buy it on DVD? No. Not my bag. But I suppose the extras and commentary might well be worth a look-see.

Overall Summer Movie Ranking
Spider-man 2
Shrek 2
I, Robot
The Day After Tomorrow
The Terminal
The Chronicles of Riddick
Fahrenheit 9/11
Van Helsing
The Stepford Wives