Media

Ever had the feeling you’ve been cheated?

So I finally got round to watching Fahrenheit 9-11. Don’t worry I’m not going to bore you with an attempted review months after plenty of people have already given their opinions all over the world’s media but what are blogs for if not having a quick word about something?

Ok, first, as the Americans would say, what Hitchens said:

To describe this film as dishonest and demagogic would almost be to promote those terms to the level of respectability. To describe this film as a piece of crap would be to run the risk of a discourse that would never again rise above the excremental. To describe it as an exercise in facile crowd-pleasing would be too obvious. Fahrenheit 9/11 is a sinister exercise in moral frivolity, crudely disguised as an exercise in seriousness. It is also a spectacle of abject political cowardice masking itself as a demonstration of “dissenting” bravery.

And that’s probably a rare case of understatement from Hitchens.

On the latter point, of “dissenting” bravery, the DVD extras collection contains a cringeworthy mini-docu on the launch of the film and the reaction. Apart from a brief soundbite to mock a Whitehouse spokesman, everyone else is singing Moore’s praises – from the luvvies at Cannes to various political figures in the US. Both produce the same refrain – at last someone has broken through the silence over Iraq and ‘answered’ Bush.

Quite how a film which does not even touch upon the nature of Saddam’s regime can be considered an ‘answer’ to any argument over Iraq beats me. But still once again we are subjected to the weary claim that the anti-war viewpoint was suppressed and it reaches the level of the ludicrous on the DVD extra when Moore is filmed at Cannes defiantly vowing that “by hook or by crook, the American people will see this film”. I can’t help thinking that here Moore turns the anti-war movements self-delusion over the ‘silencing of dissent’ into a smart marketing strategy. If so, it worked a treat.

I certainly doubt that serious, intelligent, anti-war people would think that Moore’s film is ‘the answer’ or for that matter any sort of answer. Surely Fahrenheit 9-11 is an embarassment to them?

I’ve been trying to work out what Moore’s argument in this film actually is and reached the conclusion that he doesn’t actually make one. Instead he produces a series of clumsy innuendos which, when combined in such a fashion, don’t even make up the half-logic of a conspiracy theory.

There is no argument but there is a message to this film and the message is – you have been duped. The way that Moore presents the leading players of the Bush administration shouts out “How can you trust these goons? Come on, there has to be another reason for all this.” It is not a difficult task to ridicule an administration containing the likes of Cheney, Rumsfeld and Bush himself but Moore never bothers to go beyond that to actually present any evidence for duping.

He hardly even bothers with the WMD issue which I would have thought was pretty central to any ‘duping’ claim and I wonder why? Would such complexities have slowed down the pace of a film whose point is not to challenge, examine or explain but simply to mock?

In failing to present any sort of serious anti-war argument and relying on suggestion and emotion (the grieving mother’s trip from Flint to the Whitehouse reeked of cheap explotation) Moore produces little more than second-rate demagogary.

Like the propaganda of the last century’s dictatorships it intends to arouse support and opposition to the enemy but instead simply insults the informed viewer. Listening to the Moore fans praise the film on the DVD, one is left to ponder exactly who is being duped?

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