don't even have to hate George Bush Jr. You just have to be outraged
by the war on Iraq. At the 57th Cannes Film Festival,
the festival jury, led by Quentin Tarantino, awarded Michael Moore's
Fahrenheit 9/11 the Golden Palm for Best Film.
is the best introduction to how crazy we have all been during
Bush's presidency. And it's just as crazy when critics argue that
the film is politics and not art, that it's a political pamphlet,
that it preaches to the converted, that it's only valid till the
US elections later this year and that it doesn't prove the accusations.
it has to be said that Fahrenheit can't possibly be worse than
the slew of recent Hollywood comedies - Welcome To Mooseport or
Something's Gotta Give - and last I heard, we called those "films".
Fahrenheit is far funnier and even has a point of view. That point
of view, by the way, is so disturbing that mainstream film critics
have resorted to labelling the film as a political pamphlet. If
Fahrenheit preaches to the converted, then the converted must
be a minority, because many of us among the 4,000 foreign journalists
in Cannes were astounded by the footage. And whether or not Bush
gets re-elected later this year, the War on Iraq will still be
around, which will maintain Fahrenheit's validity. And only those
who haven't read Noam Chomsky's Manufacturing Consent will believe
that the media has an easy time proving accusations. It wasn't
easy during Watergate and it's worse now.
mistake most critics make about this film is that they expect
to see a definitive statement. But if the whole world allowed
the War on Iraq to take place, then surely we have to go back
and see just how crazy it was in the first place.
Moore's footage is priceless. Even if you have read about Bush
being in a primary school on a PR opportunity when the twin towers
were attacked, the picture is worth a thousand words. Here, Moore
shows the minutes ticking by while Bush stares into space on hearing
about the attack. Then, he shows us Bush's family connections
to the Saudis and how 24 members of the Bin Laden family were
allowed to leave the US two days after Sept 11. Huh?
revisits Bush's election and the irony of Al Gore, in his role
as President of the US Senate, refusing to allow black congress
members to protest the result as their petitions were not supported
by senators. This is counter-pointed later on when Moore shows
that the black community is the target for the army's recruitment
drive. In his usual public-service harassment mode, Moore confronts
members of Congress on the street whether they would volunteer
their sons to enlist in the army for the war on Iraq.
showing just how America got swept up in a patriotic fever, Moore
profiles Lila Lipscomb, an American mother who believed in the
war, until her son was killed on the battlefield. Lipscomb realises
her error when her son starts wondering just what the war is all
about. When Lipscomb goes to the White House to protest, she meets
a pro-war citizen. It's a defining moment in the film because
it shows just how numb we are when it comes to feeling for another
person and how it's easier to buy into the propaganda.
9/11 possibly refers to Francois Truffaut's Fahrenheit 451, in
which books are outlawed in the future, when the state decides
that it is too dangerous for people to think for themselves. In
John Powers' Sore Winners, a forthcoming book on George Bush,
he shows how despite Bush's obvious dumbness, the press turned
against Al Gore for his arrogant smugness. One way or another,
we are just too dumb to know better.