Tulsa TV Memories

"Fahrenheit 9/11"
A Review by Gary Chew

GARY CHEW/Sacramento

Director Michael Moore
Director Michael Moore queries Congressman Mark Kennedy

This look of incredulity being flashed at Michael Moore by U.S. congressman Mark Kennedy (R-Minnesota) is worth more than a thousand words of print or ten thousand frames of film in Moore’s incendiary documentary, “Fahrenheit 9/11.” Moore has just asked this elected public servant if he’d like to have information on how the congressman’s children might enlist in the military to go fight in Iraq.

Doubtless, the balance of this compelling, award-winning film will be the subject of rancorous conjecture between those who support the Bush administration and others who, like Moore, feel that the Bush presidency has revealed itself to be dangerous and incompetent.

“Fahrenheit 9/11” is bringing diligent fact-checking back into play among neo-conservative think tanks and quasi-journalists across the nation. A smart thing on their part, for sure, since the film is such a clever assemblage of candid moments, especially of the president. It would be better for all of us if such fact-checking were done, say, like when scrutinizing a test for cancer.

However, most of what’s shown in “Fahrenheit 9/11” is already a matter of record in well-known newspapers or has been previously published in well-researched books on the subjects of recent American domestic politics, corporate/government relations with Saudi Arabia and the tragedy and aftermath of September 11th, 2001.

Ironically, film man Moore, at one point, uses the concept of radio to make his documentary more powerful and respectful: the screen goes to black for several seconds as the theater fills with actual sounds of the jet airliners crashing into the New York City skyline.

But there are some quick moments for laughter in “Fahrenheit 9/11.” There’s Britney Spears giving citizen advice to the audience. There’s Congressman John Doolittle of California scurrying away from Moore’s cameras to avoid receiving material on how members of his family can enlist. We see just how “subversive” a bunch of surveilled Fresno, California peaceniks are. And, with a chuckle, we observe how motivated a couple of Marine recruiters are at tempting low-income Americans into service in Iraq.

“Fahrenheit 9/11” is designed to energize the base of people in America who call themselves progressive and/or liberal. It may well also cause those who don’t follow too closely the complexities of the daily grind of politics, government and public affairs to take a deep breath and decide that they NEED to keep a closer eye on what’s going on and what’s NOT going on the evening news or in the morning papers.

Just in time for the Fourth of July, “Fahrenheit 9/11” suggests that democracy works from the ground up. How’s that for a concept, fellow citizen?

What controversy?

You can watch a trailer at MichaelMoore.com.

Gary Chew can be reached at garychew@comcast.net.

Copyright © 2004, Gary Chew. All rights reserved.

Fahrenheit 911, F911, F9/11
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