I paid my money, and I'm going to see all the movie
Tauhid Bondia, the mastermind behind target="_preview">Spells and Whistles, has drawn something you should definitely check out right now. The guy is a heck of an artist, and it's cool to see his take on so many veritable webcomic icons. I have no idea how Fuzzy weaseled his way into such a celebrated crowd, but I'm certainly not complaining.
I caught the premier of Fahrenheit 9/11 on Friday. I don't know about you, but I enter any Michael Moore flick with equal parts anticipation and trepidation. On the one hand, I was excited that Moore had been given a real opportunity to provide mainstream exposure to facts and points of view that are frequently ignored by the US news media. On the other hand, I was worried that he'd botch the whole thing with a few too many of the generalizations and factual omissions that have undermined some of his other work.
I don't know much about making documentaries, but I do know a thing or two about writing history articles. Much like one of Moore's films, a history article presents a central argument and then tries to prove it as definitely as possible by presenting evidence. But the most convincing articles are always the ones that anticipate potential criticisms or counter arguments and tackle them directly.
Moore doesn't so much tackle them as ignore them completely. His arguments are incredibly broad, and he backs them up with equally broad generalizations. A perfect example is Bowling for Columbine's depiction of Canadians as a fearless, gun-toting people who watch news stories about speed bumps and never lock their doors. Moore never addresses the fact that Canadians own a lot of hunting rifles, not handguns, nor does he consider than perhaps, in a country as giant and diverse as Canada, one city might not be very representative of the whole country. The stupid thing is I generally agree with Moore’s argument in Bowling for Columbine, and I really liked a large portion of the film. But Moore chose to oversimplify for the purpose of making his argument seem clearer, more black and white, then it actually was. This habit was excusable once, but it becomes more and more damaging as Moore tackles bigger and bigger topics in his films.
In Fahrenheit 9/11, Moore jumps all over the place, discussing the election controversy in Florida, the financial relations between the Bush family and the Saudis, the seemingly pointless "terror alerts," the inadequacy of state trooper forces, the disillusionment of American troops in Iraq... Ultimately, adding all of this together is supposed to prove decisively that Bush attacked Iraq because his relationship with the Saudis discouraged him from going after the real perpetrators of 9/11. It doesn't, really. Every individual point Moore makes is interesting and important, but all tolled, they don't really add up to ANY kind of central thesis. Except maybe "Don't vote for Bush."
The weakest point of the film is roughly in the middle: right before viewing the onslaught of the American invasion, we are presented with a depiction of Iraq that borders on utopian. It's an attempt at contrast, but even the strongest anti-war protestor isn't going to buy that black and white division. Every review I’ve read of the film, even the positive ones, has lambasted that segment. What was Moore thinking?
And there are lots of other obvious criticisms one could make that Moore didn't even try to address. If Bush is completely in the pocket of the Saudis, why did he invade Iraq when they opposed such an action? If none of the bin Laden family members flown out of the USA after 9/11 were interviewed by the FBI, then why has the 9/11 Commission reported that, in fact, almost all of them were interviewed? Moore's incredibly black and white presentation has no place for these kinds of questions. And I wish it did, because it would make it a stronger and more convincing film.
That said, Fahrenheit 9/11 is still a must-watch film. The footage of the protest on Bush's inauguration day, the horrific shots of the damage caused by bombing civilian targets in Iraq, the interviews with American soldiers and their families, the information revealing the true extent of Saudi investment in the American economy... these are things a lot of people have never seen before. Well, now we all have an opportunity, and it’s definitely worth it, no matter what political persuasion you follow. If your only sources of information about US foreign policy are CNN and Fox News, then there is plenty to learn here.
Watch this movie, but ignore the spin. The information Moore presents definitely adds up to something important, even if it isn't as decisive as he thinks it is. Read the deconstructions, the critiques, the counter-arguments, and decide for yourself what it all actually means. But watch this movie, even if you think Moore is completely nuts. If you hate him so much that you can't stand the thought of him getting your ticket money, then pirate it and watch it. Don't worry, Manny Perry didn't do any stunts for it.