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Pinball Wizard's Journal: My take on Fahrenheit 9/11

Journal by Pinball Wizard

First of all, I'd like to confess that I'm somewhat of a Michael Moore fan. I've enjoyed his books and movies ever since Roger and Me, I've went to a booksigning of his just to meet him and get a signed book, and I made it a point to see Fahrenheit 9/11 on the first day it was out.

That said, I tend to look at most things, Moore's movies included, with a critical eye. The biggest problems I have with this movie are not with its content, but the way the content will be recieved. Moore has created an extremely powerful movie, but will it meet its goal of persuading people to change their minds about Bush or the war against terrorism? I really don't think so, and I'll explain why.

The crowd at the theater had already made up their minds about Bush. The movies main points - Bush was elected unfairly, Bush is an idiot who didn't know what to do for seven minutes after the second plane hit the tower, Bush diverted attention to creating a war against Iraq as soon as possible, and that he lied to the American people - were all applauded loudly by the crowd inside. Moore used an extreme amount of artistic licence and left out many facts to make his point, and the audience lapped up his viewpoint without question. This was not an audience that needed any additional persuading not to vote for Bush. Perhaps conservatives are seeing the movie in other theaters or waiting until the lines die down. But I didn't see them or hear any of them at the showing I attended.

The thing is, people who are still on the fence about who to vote for this November are likely to be those who need to understand both sides of the story. This movie deliberately sidesteps anything that could be used to question its points of view. Anyone who needs to see a different viewpoint about the things in Moore's movie will have to look elsewhere. When they do, it will become immediately apparent how Moore deliberately avoided lots of obvious things to make the points he did.

For instance, the movie states that with any possible recount, Gore would have been re-elected. That's a rather narrow viewpoint, because with both the recount the Supreme Court stopped and with the recount Gore wanted, Gore still would have lost. What Moore meant, but didn't say was that with any possible statewide recount with a certain arbitrary standard applied uniformly, Gore would have come out ahead. But we are made to believe that the Supreme Court stopped a process that would have resulted in a Gore presidency. Not true.

Richard Clarke appears in this movie where he states the Bush administration too quickly focused on Iraq, which weakened our war with Al-Qaeda. The movie also makes you believe that Bush was behind getting the Bin Laden's family out of the U.S. before the general ban on flight was lifted. What it doesn't say is that the flights didn't begin until the ban was lifted - and the authorization to get the Bin Ladens out of the country was made by Clarke himself.

Anyone wanting to dig a little will have no problem finding out that Moore was against taking action against Afghanistan when we did. But one of this movie's main points was that we didn't go after Osama hard enough and fast enough.

Moore portrays Iraq before we bombed it as an idyllic place, with children playing in the streets and happy citizens going about their business. This at the very least ignores the basic facts about Sadaam's murderous regime. For someone who really wanted to examine the facts, they could easily find out that more people were killed and maimed each year under Sadaam's regime than under the occupation. But this is opposite of the impression we get from this movie.

That's not to say this movie didn't score any points with this skeptical viewer. The scene of the contractors convention designed to teach people how to profit from the war turned my stomach. Watching the blank stare on Bush's face after he was told about the second plane made me seriously wonder about his competence. And I hadn't realized the extent the Bush family was involved with the Saudis.

As I said earlier, I don't think this movie alone will persuade anyone still on the fence to make up their mind one way or another. Although I made up my mind a long time ago who I would vote for(Kerry), I also supported the removal of Sadaam. This movie had too many narrow opinions, conspiracy theories and omissions to convince me my support of the war was wrong. And I suspect anyone else who hasn't made up their minds about the war or who to vote for will still need to look elsewhere for their facts.

All in all, Fahrenheit was an extremely entertaining movie. But it's just that - entertainment, and not the scathing political bombshell Moore hoped it would be.

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My take on Fahrenheit 9/11

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"Mach was the greatest intellectual fraud in the last ten years." "What about X?" "I said `intellectual'." ;login, 9/1990

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