June 13, 2004

Fahrenhype 911

I'm a fan of the documentary. I watched a great one about Waco a couple of years back. Brother's Keeper--another good one. I especially like Errol Morris's films. (The Thin Blue Line is my favorite documentary.) I'm in the process of watching an intriguing doc. titled Keep the River on Your Right.

Maybe that's why it galls me so much when Michael Moore gets nominated for documentary awards. I don't consider his films documentaries any more than, say, This Is Spinal Tap, or Monster, or JFK. True, those films have actors, and a script. But Moore takes just as many liberties. He adds text to existing footage, he stages scenes, he edits actual footage to give the appearance of continuity that doesn't exist...in essence, he manufactures the "truth" so that it plays how he wants it to play. Sure, documentaries can have a message. They don't even have to be objective. But they need to be non-fiction (see Academy Award Rule 12). Moore bends the truth to the breaking point. He commits fallacy after fallacy, and when confronted with them, writes them off as some kind of "poetic license." Mike, you can't have it both ways--it's either fact or it isn't.

That's one of the problems with Moore--he wants it both ways. A lot. I just finished reading an interview with him in a certain nameless bunny mag. In the interview, he constantly doubletalks. He claims Bush and his cronies (Do people really have "cronies" anymore?) put one over on the American people. Later, he says about Bush, "he is not a very bright man." He's an evil genius; yet he's a dope. He wants it both ways.

He claims to know what "the people" are thinking. Yet when discussing the reception to his Oscar speech, he tries to undermine the boos, claiming that they came from "up in the balcony." You mean where the "little people" sit, Mike? The ones who you claim to understand so well? Whenever a poll comes along that seems to indicate that he does not know what the people are thinking, he says what? "I'm convinced the polls are wrong." He wants it both ways.

He rails against the Patriot Act. Yet he incredibly blames Republicans for security problems relating to September 11!
In fact, I would argue that the Republicans are responsible for our lack of preparedness prior to 9/11....In the late 1990s the Republicans should not have wasted the federal government's time trying to impeach Clinton.
Never does he mention the steps taken by the Clinton administration to weaken security. Nor does he point out that his own argument could certainly be taken the next logical step--that Clinton would be ultimately responsible. He shouldn't have wasted the federal government's time by committing perjury.

I could go on, and probably will over the next few days as the mood strikes me. But I want to close with one glaring Lie (note the capital 'L') that Moore continues to perpetrate. Moore continues to claim that the Bush administration set up flights for members of Osama bin Laden's family members so that they could leave the country even though there was a ban on flying. Here's his exact words from the interview:
Up to 140 members of the Saudi royal family and other Saudi officials who were in the country at the time also got picked up and taken out of the country when no one else could fly. You couldn't fly in America on September 12 or 13 unless your name was Bin Laden. The White House approved it. Why? (emphasis mine)

Moore has repeated this line more than once, and it's really very clever the way he does it. The implication is that these people were flown to Saudi Arabia during the two days when flights were grounded. It's untrue, and he knows it. The first part of the claim, that planes picked up these dignitaries, etc., is correct. But it was ostensibly for their own safety. There were other flights going on during those days, too. Flights for medical reasons, like organ transport, for example. The FBI admits that they had a list of all passengers, and decided that none of them deserved further examination. (Moore also says 'family members' knowing that we will all think of the term as we use it. Remember, OBL is one of 52 children. Figure in cousins, etc., and that's a very extended family.) These people, however, did not leave the country until a week after the flight ban was lifted. In other words, anybody who wanted to could fly. I'm not sure at that point that they even needed "approval." The plane was chartered by the Saudi government, and not paid for by the U.S. I'm sure it works much better for Moore's crackpot theories if the public thinks Bush sent these people back to Saudi Arabia in some secret flight, but those aren't the facts.

I can't comment too much on Fahrenheit 911 because I haven't seen it. I don't plan to...at least in the theaters. I will probably do what I did with Bowling For Columbine--wait and rent it on DVD. I can't, in good conscience, give the man any more money than that. And if you really feel the need to see a documentary this summer? You could skip F-911, and try this one. Or hope that this one gets a distributor.

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