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Wednesday, June 30, 2004
 
Michael Moore


The political right is pretty exercised over Moore's latest film. I went to see it last night in a packed theater and came away wondering why this particular political statement has caused so much uproar. F 9/11 doesn't break any new ground. In it, Moore rehashes the same issues many of us here in the blogosphere have been addressing for quite some time, albeit set to good music.

The film has several different themes running: First and foremost, that *W has abused the office of President and is not competent to hold it, for a wide variety of reasons. Second, that the war in Iraq has created terrible human tragedies on both sides of the conflict and the brunt of the pain on the US side has fallen on those from impoverished economic backgrounds. Third, and for me the most compelling, that the media and government-created "culture of fear" has allowed *W and friends to run roughshod over the separation of powers, the bill of rights, and most accepted standards of ethical and legal behavior in the wake of 9/11.

This last theme is a continuation of what Moore addressed in 'Bowling For Columbine' and is one that I strongly agree with. The mass media, especially broadcast media, in this country knows that bad news sells. The best kind of bad news for the camera is violence--or its graphic aftermath. If the crew has missed the violence, and the aftermath is too unpleasant for the viewing audience, then a good chase-and-arrest sequence is a fair substitute.

What does a steady diet of this fare do to the American psyche? It convinces us that we are only a breath away from danger. It keeps us on edge, always waiting for the violence that we see regularly on the small screen to explode around us. It makes us more prone to react violently and unpredictably. It makes us afraid.

Since 9/11, the Government has been an active participant. Yellow alert. Orange alert. An attack is coming, but we don't know when, where, who or how. Be afraid--but go shopping. Privacy and liberty are small things to give up in return for safety. Trust us, we know how to neutralize the evil-doers.

As with most of his projects, Moore mixes satire and fact and it can be difficult at times to keep them sorted out. I assume he does this in an attempt to make his messages more marketable, using the principle that humor sells better than polemics. He may be right, but it is this quirk of his that gives his critics most of their ammunition (and has made him most of his money). But the most powerful parts of F 9/11 are not accomplished with a good score, or clever editing, or loaded interview questions.

The real power of this movie happens when he just lets the camera run.
 
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“There’s a lot of money to pay for this that doesn’t have to be U.S. taxpayer money, and it starts with the assets of the Iraqi people…and on a rough recollection, the oil revenues of that country could bring between $50 and $100 billion over the course of the next two or three years…We’re dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction, and relatively soon.” -Paul Wolfowitz

Cost of the War in Iraq
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