“My Opinion on All This Anti-Michael Moore Yammering”

This is a sensitive issue, politics, but really, what issue isn’t? Sometimes it seems like even something as menial as the weather can trigger at very least, nervous laughter. Just imagine a nation at the end of its rope, bracing amidst a torrent of lie accusations, overexposure to sex and violence, and a crushing terrorist attack. You don’t have to imagine it — that’s exactly what we have on our hands.
Michael Moore has been a prominent investigative journalist longer than some people may realize. He started in the late ‘80s, with Roger & Me, a documentary film about the disastrous results of a Flint, Michigan GM plant closing. A lot of people don’t know this, including me, until two minutes ago, but he actually did Canadian Bacon, John Candy’s last film.
Sooner or later, he chose to get more serious, and more big-picture, and whether this shift was a direct reaction to the scale of disasters he saw around him, or a deliberate personal alteration of professional or artistic strategy, remains to be fully ascertained, but I would have to say it had something to do with an increase in the NEED for an intellectual perspective on things.
Bowling for Columbine seemed big at the time, but obviously got dwarfed by the catastrophic events of 9/11. So after reporting on the relatively menial issue of gun control, he shifted rather quickly over to a much touchier subject after the terrorist attacks — the honesty of our government. Presumably, this bold claim of foul play on their part is what irks people so bad, but a lot of the people who hate Moore are actually liberals, who would theoretically have been opposed to W. Bush’s war in Iraq. So what gives?
Amidst what seems like invariable antipathy against Moore the man, and Moore the filmmaker (I’ve heard of some critics actually resort to calling him fat, in what had been brandished as an intellectual conversation), I got the itch to do some research, and get to the bottom of this stuff. So I present to you exhibit A: “The Lies of Michael Moore,” published on slate.com in 2004. Wow, so much finesse in that title you can cut it with a knife.
So, dare we ask, what are these “lies”? Let’s take a sample portion and see what our hands can scoop up.
After making the claim that Moore has been popularized as a way of filling a need for a sort of cartoon talking head in the American left, the writer institutes again this hamhanded, playground-fight language: “To call this film a piece of crap would be to run the risk of a discourse that would never again rise above the excremental.” Translation: this writer has nothing POSITIVE to add, to this article, to this discussion, to humanity at large, from which to VEER a “discourse” (I’d be curious as to whether he knows what this word means or not) from the “excremental,” after such a claim about Fahrenheit 9/11. Ok, I’m not going to get into where my thoughts are straying from here.
What we do know, is that this guy is going to uncover some serious lies of which Michael Moore is guilty, by way of his sycophantic, self-promotive documentary film in the wake of the war in Iraq. Well, let’s see. First we get the claim that “this is not the sort of irony in which Moore chooses to deal… He prefers leaden sarcasm to irony and, indeed, may not appreciate the distinction.” Well, for an article purporting to expose “lies,” it’s sure taking a while to do so. What we get instead is a “discourse,” hey, look at me, on how essential “irony” is to documentary films. There. Chew on that for a while. Might I suggest a six-pack of Sierra Nevada to wash it down with.
Regarding Moore’s cinematic claim that the bin Laden family was flown out of the country right after the attacks, the slate writer says “the 9/11 Commission has found nothing to complain of in the timing or arrangement of the flights.” So what is he saying, the bin Laden family was swooped off with the style and courteous service we grow to love in the friendly skies? Also, this is the 9/11 Commission from which two men “resigned” as chairs between the beginning of November and the end of December (that’s two months, count ‘em) of 2002, leaving Bush to appoint “former New Jersey governor Tom Kean.” This left, as you see, not only somebody who wasn’t part of the legislature, and as such unable to emit the true “checks and balances” ideal to our democratic infrastructure so often proffered, but not even a valid “functional” governor at all, a former one. These are obviously very fishy grounds, anything but a conclusive claim about the transparency of those flights. The slate writer can’t even bring himself to fully DISCUSS the flights that took off.
Frantically, then, the writer furnishes the makeshift conclusion that “A film that bases itself on a big lie and a big misrepresentation can only sustain itself by a dizzying succession of similar falsehoods…” Then he tells how Moore shows Bush on a golf course, and how Moore displays Bush as taking a lot of vacations. These aren’t even lies. In fact, the writer’s own support of the vacation claim after he mentions it is that it’s a contradiction in STRATEGY by Moore, who, so he says, was erstwhile attempting to portray Bush as a relentless war monger. The view of Bush as a perennial vacationer, he is suggesting, is more assuaging of that of the brutish imperial. He doesn’t even, anywhere, disprove the vacation claim. So instead of even maintaining that this is a lie Moore has told, he begins criticizing his screenplay strategy. Also the Tony Blair claim is toothless for a couple reasons — one, Bush’s non-stop vacationing was well publicized even outside the realm of rogue doc., and two, the presence of the prime minister in no way proves that the operation was not one of leisure, especially given its curious location.
Hmm, Slate writer. You seem tired, a bit too tired to actually FIND any lies Moore has told. And I know I’m tired of you. The Slate article was the first thing that popped up that was negative when I googled Michael Moore, so it stands to reason that this guy had a considerable amount of capital clout in his endeavor to uncover some falsehood’s on Moore’s part. But it’s clear that all we get is defensive platitude.
The next question becomes, is this misplaced ire against Moore microcosmic of the nation, even the left as well, at large? Sadly, I have indeed encountered a troubling enumeration of liberals who have felt compunction before Moore’s projects, and the reasons are uninspiring at best. I’ve heard claims of “propaganda” leveled against him, but propaganda typically exists as a way of defending the actions of a government, or a large political body. The whole idea is that one hand is washing the other — the proverbial hands being far enough apart within a given photon, a vast, intricate system like the American democracy. Motive is an issue, in other words. If one man makes a movie using lies, and is that convincing, you’ve got to admit, he’s at least extremely talented. But more importantly, if you choose to attempt “falsehood” accusation against one man making movies, you better da** well have something to back it up, or you’re going to look like a jealous snake who wishes he or she had the balls to come out and question his government.

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