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Sunday, March 26, 2006

New To You: Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Here is my review of Fahrenheit 911, written before I started blogging, and posted on my old blog. If you haven’t read it, its new to you.

Chainik Hocker reviews Fahrenheit 911

Note: I first wrote this review in early July, about three days after the movie came out, and was hoping to sell it to somebody somewhere. Nobody bought it or was even willing to publish it for free. So I saved it on my hard drive and forgot about it. I just dug it up now. Here it is.

I must start this review with a caveat. Not only am I a Republican- an Orthodox Jewish Republican- an Orthodox Jewish Republican who has lost friends and relatives to Arab terror in New York and Israel- but I am also a huge Michael Moore fan.

I first discovered Roger and Me on cable when I was sixteen, and have since read all his books and seen all his movies. The man is both a genius and funny as hell. However, he has moved from his populist, mildly socialist Roger and Me (force GM to keep jobs in Flint!) to the more extremist Downsize This! (nationalize GM!) to the crackpot lefty Dude, Where’s My Country? (capitalizt GM exploits the proletariat!). Which brings us to Fahrenheit 911.

I was extremely reluctant to contribute my $8.50 to Moore’s coffers. However, I remembered all his criticisms of capitalism and realized that he probably wouldn’t want me to go to a theater (owned by Lowe’s), having purchased my ticket online (with my computer from Dell and an operating system from Microsoft), purchase a soda (Coca Cola Corporation) having traveled in my Ford automobile (powered by gas from Exxon). This one trip to see a movie would put money in the pockets of a lot of big powerful corporations. So instead I walked around the corner from my apartment and bought a pirated DVD for five bucks.

The movie is a well crafted, deliberately paced, beautifully written piece of crap. The plot, as far as I could tell, went as follows. First Al Gore is elected President of the United States. Then George Bush’s cousin, working for Fox News, tells everybody that Dubya won after all. All the African Americans in the country have their votes discounted. The US Senate doesn’t care.

Dubya is a lazy guy who spends much of the summer of 2001 on vacation. It is implied that Gore wouldn’t have taken a vacation (although he would have needed a tune-up and an oil change after 5,000 miles).

Then Osama Bin Laden crashes four planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. It turns out that Dubya’s father, Bush the Elder, knows Saudi Arabians from Saudi Arabia. He has even done business with Saudi Arabians and has visited Saudi Arabia. Also, Dubya may have known a guy who knew Osama’s father. Both the Bushes know the Saudi Arabian ambassador, who is from Saudi Arabia. Osama Bin Laden is from Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is very rich and it owns precisely 7% of the United States. Saudi Arabia gave Dubya 150 billion dollars. You get paid about 400 thousand dollars a year to be President. 150 billion dollars is more money than 400 thousand.

After the WTC incident, Dubya got real mad. So mad that he invaded Afghanistan, an innocent country that had never done anything wrong to us. They were run by some real evil guys named ‘Taliban’ with funny beards and bad teeth who didn’t respect women’s rights. Also, Dubya was real good friends with the Taliban. We have proof in the form of a trip that a Taliban representative took a trip to Texas in 1997 and met with the Governor, who was Bush. Donald Rumsfeld bombed the heck out of Afghanistan, but most of the Taliban got away. He did manage to kill a whole bunch of innocent civilians, though. Then Bush decided to invade Iraq, just for the hell of it. More innocent civilians were killed. Also some American soldiers. Many American soldiers are from poor neighborhoods.

The military actually has people who go around to poor neighborhoods and encourages people to join. There is an interview with a mutinous Marine (whose first name, not that it matters, is Mohammed) who announces his intentions to go AWOL rather than return to Iraq.

Some rather gruesome shots of dead and dieing Arabs are shown. We follow an unidentified Army unit on Xmas eve arresting an Iraqi for reasons we are never told. The man’s relatives are, not surprisingly, annoyed at this. Cut to an interview of the mother of an American soldier killed in Iraq. Cut to an Iraqi kid screaming and bleeding from a head wound. Cut to American mother sobbing in front of the White House. Cut to American soldiers under attack. Some of the men have been hit. There is much shouting, running back and forth, camera jiggling, bleeding, gunshots. Cut to Iraqi with arm mostly off and bleeding all over the place. Cut to explosions, confusion, yelling, the President playing golf. The army has been brought to its knees. Fade to black.

In his terrifyingly bland, Midwestern, nose-first voice, Moore narrates our national descent into hell. Iraq is Vietnam with sand and camels. He plays six-degrees-of-separation between Bush and Osama, so convincingly that we want to leave the theater and burn George at the stake for being the twenty first hijacker. The battle scenes leave us astonished there are any Marines left alive. The powerful scene with the grieving mother causes many an eye to tear up and many a stomach to turn. The shots of bleeding and broken Iraqis looked like someone stuffed their sister’s dolls in a blender, poured in some dirt and a lot of tomato juice, and pushed puree with the cover off, and splashed the result all over the street, with extra yelling and running around. This is bullshit. This is sickening. There is no excuse for this kind of barbarism.

Burn down the White House. Hang all Republicans from light poles. Then the credits roll and you come to your senses.

Something was bothering me. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. This is why, when one views a documentary on current American politics, one does so in the company of a Canadian or other some such foreigner- to provide a sense of perspective. The Canadian I was watching the film with came up with the biggest problem of the film, which proves my point. “What was the deal” he said “where they had the Senators with the kids who weren’t in the army?”

See, Mr. Moore pointed out that many legislators in this country, including those who approved the war in Iraq, don’t have children in the military. He pulled a classic Moore stunt by going around to Congressmen with military-age sons and handing out recruiting literature. The results are, predictably funny… but there’s something wrong with this picture.


During Vietnam, we had the draft. If called to serve, you damn well went into the army, whether you wanted to or not (in theory). However, now the Charlie Chaplin of the Iraq-as-Nam metaphor slips on the banana peel of logic. We have an all volunteer force nowadays. And nobody, mutinous Marine notwithstanding, is in the military involuntarily. Yes, it is possible that some joined for the benefits and not because they expected to have to actually fight. However, they did sign up of their own free will.

This is, at most, a minor quibble. However I believe it is indicative of Mr. Moore’s attempt to reclaim sixties style political activism, even if it means twisting an Iraq until it fits into a Nam-shaped hole. For most liberals today (although I hear they’re calling themselves “progressives” now, and I for one thing it’s great that they finally have the guts to show there true colors by calling themselves what Communists used to call them- although the Communists were being sarcastic and the lefties seem not to be kidding), the sixties never ended. So thrilled are they by finally being able to have everybody chant the same thing at the demonstrations that they did forty years ago, (namely, “Stop the War!!!”) they will gladly protest any damn thing. Bush? He’s a Republican, isn’t he? Booo!!! Stem cell research? The Right is against it? Yay stem cell research!!! War? Booo war!!!

This kind of knee-jerk politics has replaced careful thought and deliberate decision, followed by a knee jerk reaction. Well, my knees don’t work all that well, and I can’t jerk them. I can sit down and think about stuff, and I can remember that we did not start this damn war. We did not start this war, but we will damn well finish it. We don’t have a choice. And I don't give a crap about Michael Moore any longer.