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FAHRENHEIT 9/11

Review by Michael Jacobson

Director:  Michael Moore
Audio:  Dolby Digital 5.1
Video:  Anamorphic Widescreen 1.78:1
Studio:  Columbia Tri Star
Features:  See Review
Length:  126 Minutes
Release Date:  October 6, 2004

“Americans are the stupidest people on earth.”Michael Moore

Film (zero stars)

The above quote came from Michael Moore speaking to members of the press in Europe.  While schmoozing with the media in THIS country, he has said, “The American people are smarter than they’re given credit for.”  Abroad, he’s an avowed socialist.  At home, he defines the spirit of capitalism, making millions and millions while exploiting the misery of those he pretends to be defending.  All in all, Moore is a man of many contradictions…oops, sorry; the current politically correct term is nuanced.

But somewhere in the midst of the nuance is the real Michael Moore, and it’s a lot closer to the man who says Americans are stupid than the one who says Americans are smart.  I loathe his accusation vehemently, but on the other hand, if I were a lawyer assigned to his case to back up his claim about the intelligence level in America, exhibit number one would be Moore’s last two films and the fact that they made him very rich while he, at the same time, blatantly lied to his audience and held them in contempt.

Moore’s films have becoming increasingly easy to dissect and pick apart.  He’s gotten so used to dismissing the truth that he does it now without putting forth much effort to disguise the fact that he lies, distorts, takes quotes apart and puts them back together so they say what he wants them to say, stages scenes, makes up statistics, and generally creates a fictional world based on the way he sees it.  Truth is not a commodity to be honored in Moore World…it’s a nuisance to be overcome.

What disturbs me the most is not that Moore makes false claims and twists facts around to suit his agenda.  Rather, it’s the rabid response his most extreme fans have to whatever he puts out.  Watching a news show on the premiere of Fahrenheit 9/11 earlier this year was like seeing footage of the Nuremberg nights all over again:  crazed, glassy eyed followers cheering, pumping angry fists, and willing to follow their fuehrer on whatever crazed notion he put before them.  From a man and a political ideology that frequently compares our president to Hitler, seeing these automaton-like followers eagerly devouring whatever their Goebbels offered them was like watching the sequel to Triumph of the Will.

Some of Moore’s untruths practically implode upon utterance, they’re so absurd.  But to the members of his choir, that doesn’t matter.  He actually accuses Fox News of swaying the 2000 election to George W. Bush.  Just think about that for a moment, even if you’re one of the ones who still claim Bush stole the presidency…a cable news network swung the election?  Never mind that ALL of the major networks incorrectly called Florida for Gore early on in the evening, and that Fox was only the first in the wee hours of the morning to change and call for Bush based on the same election data service that ALL the news networks subscribe to. 

Never mind that independent news organizations including The New York Times, CNN and The Washington Post counted and recounted the ballots and came to the same conclusion that no matter how you counted the votes, Bush won.  How does Moore counter that fact?  With another lie, of course.  He took an actual American newspaper, The Pantagraph and put a fake headline on in saying "Latest Florida Recount Shows Gore Won Election".  The paper has since filed suit against Moore for the blatant falsity (they, of course, never HAD any such headline).

Following this dubious start is another claim by Moore that has been disproven time and time again:  that President Bush flew members of the bin Laden family out of the country while the 9/11 airspace ban was in effect.

This is actually an example of Moore using the truth in a misleading way…what he does in the film is mention the flight ban, throwing in for humor that “not even Ricky Martin” could fly, but then saying, “It turns out that the White House approved planes to pick up the bin Ladens and numerous other Saudis. At least six private jets and nearly two dozen commercial planes carried the Saudis and the bin Ladens out of the U.S. after September 13th.” 

Here is where Moore proves he believes Americans are “the stupidest people on earth” by counting on his audience NOT to pick up on the fact that “after September 13th” means September 14th, when air restrictions had been lifted.  If his followers fail to pick up on that fact and instead walk away with the impression that the bin Ladens left during the time no one else was allowed to fly…well, that’s not Moore’s fault, then, is it?

Also, by frequently showing images of President Bush, he lays the blame at his feet without coming out and saying it.  Instead of calling the President by name, he uses the vaguer term “White House”.  That’s because 9/11 Commission hero Richard Clarke was the man who made the decision to get the bin Ladens out of America…not Bush.  According to Clarke’s own testimony before the Commission, the choice was his and his alone:  “It didn’t get any higher than me.”  Moore’s whole argument casts dishonest dispersions by carefully selecting how and when to use the truth, and in the end, he has only created a flimsy house of cards that backs up no part of his accusations, but appeals to his disciples and thus makes him a profit, if not a prophet.

Moore then goes on to paint a picture of Iraq as a Middle Eastern paradise with carefully cultivated and selected chamber-of-commerce type footage, which is such a ridiculously false depiction that only the least acute of minds could possibly buy into it.  No shots show Saddam Hussein’s reign of torture and torment, including broken limbs, stonings, hands and fingers chopped off, people pushed from high rooftops, or the infamous rape rooms.  No images depict the hundreds of thousands of murdered Iraqi men, women and children being bulldozed into mass graves.  No looks at Kurds who survived the dictator’s chemical and biological weapon attacks and what became of them after exposure to deadly agents.

No, Iraq was an oasis of peace, justice and prosperity until America showed up and ruined it all.  Many have been opposed to the war on terror spreading into Iraq, and that’s perfectly fine.  But who can honestly look at what Moore presents to the world and support it as being factually accurate in the least?  Again, the sad answer is:  at least enough people to keep Moore wallowing in his millions. 

Picking apart his falsehoods has become like shooting fish in a barrel…at least with Bowling for Columbine, it required a little effort from time to time.  Statistics had to be looked up for comparison between what they really were and what Moore claimed, footage had to be studied carefully to find the jump cuts and discrepancies (not even I noticed the first two times I saw the movie that Charlton Heston’s clothes change within what is presented as a single speech), and history books had to be checked to verify actual dates and events. 

With Fahrenheit 9/11, Moore doesn’t even try very hard.  He says what he says, offers nothing to back it up, and relies on emotional rather than intellectual reaction.  Who wouldn’t feel sorry for our brave men and women hospitalized from war wounds, or for the families they left behind when they’ve made the ultimate sacrifice?  It’s a terrible, tragic reality of war.  But for Moore, it’s the only reality.  9/11, the massacre of hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqi Muslims, and the liberation and promise of democracy for two horribly oppressed nations are merely inconvenient pipe dreams.

One final point to serve as the cherry on the cake, which is quite standalone in being indicative of the kind of deceit Michael Moore practices:  though President Bush and his administration have NEVER made the claim that responsibility for 9/11 was the reason for military action against Iraq, Moore and his crowd have been swearing the opposite and trumpeting the supposedly stated link as a Bush ‘lie’ from day one.  Moore supports his claim with a  very carefully truncated quote from National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice:

“Oh, indeed there is a tie between Iraq and what happened on 9/11.” 

Cut, print, wrap.  End of story.  Or is it? 

Here’s the full quote from Dr. Rice; you be the judge:

“Oh, indeed there is a tie between Iraq and what happened on 9/11. It’s not that Saddam Hussein was somehow himself and his regime involved in 9/11, but, if you think about what caused 9/11, it is the rise of ideologies of hatred that lead people to drive airplanes into buildings in New York.”

As usual, the difference between reality and fantasy in Michael Moore’s world is like night and day.  He lives in a fictitious world and in fictitious times.  He not only believes, as he stated, that the American people are stupid, he counts on it to make a living. 

But I’ve seen plenty of responsible, clear thinking individuals on the American left denounce him for his reckless disregard for the truth.  I’m hoping that’s the beginning of a blossoming trend.  If even those who agree with Moore politically will recognize him as a despicable liar who does his side more harm than good, then even his assessment of American intelligence, like everything else he assesses, will be proven untrue.

Video **

Moore is not one to waste money on quality…his cheap film stock still yields adequate results, because no shot in the movie relies on color, art or cinematography.  The compilation of Moore’s on-camera scenes combined with stock footage and video are a mixed bag, but serve the purpose.

Audio **

Not much is required of the 5.1 audio presentation…save for some good songs and musical cues, the movie mostly forgoes intricate mixes in favor of spoken words and talking heads.

Features **

The disc features 2 deleted scenes and 8 featurettes, mostly designed for Moore to either further hype himself or his propaganda.  One is yet another look at Iraq on the eve of invasion…in case he didn’t convince you the first time.

Summary:

Moore’s forays into falsehood grow flimsier and flimsier with each passing product he puts out.  Fahrenheit 9/11 is such an easy house of cards to blow over, there’s almost no pleasure in doing so.  One can only hope his followers will one day wake up, realize they’ve been conned by a blowhard who holds them in contempt while taking their money, and let him disappear into the folds of his own world as a ridiculous anomaly of celebrity. 

If you choose to watch this film for yourself, be my guest.  I’d just ask that you keep one simple thought in mind while you do:  Michael Moore thinks you’re one of the "stupidest people on earth".  Prove him wrong.

P.S. - If any close associates of Moore happen to be reading, please inform him there's no such word as "stupidest".

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