Traverse City in July is about as nice as you can expect a town to be. I came in this afternoon, hoping to snag a last-minute ticket to the US opening of Broken Flowers, Bill Murray's latest movie, which is playing tonight at the Traverse City Film Festival (Sold out, oh well). The TC FilmFest is new this year, bringing lots of new Indie film to a beautiful northern Michigan locale. It is really nice here. Really.
In addition to the paid movies, there has been a nightly free showing in the park on the bayfront, which brings me to the real point of this post. The other night, they showed "Jaws". There were 6,000 people in the park, all enjoying a Traverse City summer evening, when a sailboat cruised by and obstructed the screen for a few moments. Its sails were advertising the Traverse Bay Freedom Film Festival, which was created as an alternative and protest to the TC FilmFest. Strange that there would be an "alternative" to a festival that just started this year, you say?
No. The TC FilmFest was partly organized and funded by Michael Moore, who likes this area, too. He wanted to put an independent film festival here. Not a political film festival. Not an Anti-American film festival. Just good movies, not made by major studios. But the political right sees this very successful community venture as an Attack On America. To quote one of the organizers of the alternative festival:
"People are fed up and tired with the extreme left-wing radical fringe -- America haters, family haters, Christian haters."
Here's a list of the films of the TC film festival:
Mad Hot Ballroom
Land of Plenty
My Summer of Love
Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress
Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room
A Good Woman
The Assassination of Richard Nixon
Me and You and Everone We Know
Talent Given Us
11 de Septembre
Italian for Beginners
Here's a list of what's going on at the Freedom Film festival:
Confronting Iraq (Introduction by Lt. Commander Joe Cooper)
Echoes of Innocence (Introduction by Morgan Brittany)
Michael Moore Hates America
In The Face of Evil: Reagan's War in Word and Deed
America's Heart and Soul
On The Waterfront (Introduction by Cheryl Felicia Rhoads)
Raiders of the Lost Ark
One of these festivals seems to have a partisan and political agenda, and one doesn't. One of these festivals seems to be a Texas financed but absurd parody of a celebration of independent art, and one doesn't. I think the folks here in mostly Republican Traverse City have begun to catch on to the big lie.
So much of right wing reality in the 21st century world revolves around the eternal Attack On America. This is the message that they have pounded out for years on talk radio and FoxNews: anything that doesn't fit a conservative, christian, 1957 snapshot of Eisenhower-era american utopia is an attack on the very fabric of our nation. One of Karl Rove's huge insights as he managed Bush's political rise over the last 15 years has been that many people respond to a perceived attack on American Values, even when the premise is not only false, but ridiculous. They can't help it. They love this country and will always err on the side of defending it, just in case the charges are true.
Once they figure out they've been lied to for so long, about so many things, they won't be happy. Reality has a way of --sooner or later-- overcoming bullshit. And it's happening to the Bush administration and its most ardent supporters right now...