Michael Moore Ignites America

Fahrenheit 9/11

Love or hate him, muckraking Michigander Michael Moore has left an indelible impact on political discourse and pop culture. A demon to some and an angel to others, supporters have placed him in high regard as a truth-seeking everyman armed with a camera while his detractors have denigrated him as nothing more than a liberal Leni Riefenstahl. Even though his heartbreaking debut Roger and Me, his book Downsize This! and television shows TV Nation and The Awful Truth were well-received and bestowed upon him the noble label of gadfly, Moore thrust himself into increased scrutiny with 2002’s book Stupid White Men, the film Bowling For Columbine and a certain now infamous Oscar acceptance speech the following year. Indeed, following the sensation stirred by Moore’s comments — similar save for the crowd’s reaction to the words he delivered at the Independent Spirit Awards for the same film — Roger and Me was finally released on DVD. His most recent book, Dude, Where’s My Country?, was released a few months after.

The Parade of Grotesques

It should come as no surprise that Moore’s most recent documentary Fahrenheit 9/11 — a scathing, polemic indictment of the Bush administration that makes no claims of being fair and balanced — has caused such an uproar in its election year release. The film begins with the 2000 election night, Gore flanked by several celebrities celebrating a projected presidential victory. What follows said evening of fireworks and a contrarian Fox News report are the bizarre and often shadowy circumstances that ushered Dubya into office. Some Go-Go’s cheer and vacation footage whisk the happy-go-lucky president through the events just prior to September 11.

It is here the opening credits begin and we are treated to candid images of several members of the Bush administration. The group is being made up prior to their respective television appearances, a moment reminiscent of the cedits during Wes Anderson’s The Royal Tenenbaums. Fahrenheit composer Jeff Gibbs’ staid score over the credits is even reminiscent of Mark Mothersbaugh’s in Tenenbaums, albeit Gibbs’ score more sinister particularly over this collection of conservative grotesques. A simian-looking Dubya sits behind his oval office desk, eyes cast askance for no apparent reason like Sugar in Some Like it Hot. The crooked, scheming, supervillain grin of Dick Cheney fills the screen. The most off-putting of these images is the amorous, slow-motion comb-sucking of Paul Wolfowitz that has to be seen to be believed. What one could infer from Anderson’s film as the cast of characters is putting on their faces could be viewed as metafictive or theatrical. Moore’s implication in his film seems to be that the political figures we are looking at are in fact actors employed in the age-old craft of lying.

After the credits, the screen remains blank as the somber, chilling cacophony of September 11 is recreated. Screams and unintelligible chaos permeate the darkened theater as American Airlines flight 11 and United Airlines flight 175 topple the World Trade Center. We don’t see either of the two planes on screen. The first images we see of the terrorist attacks are not of structures collapsing into billowing, choking clouds but rather the frightened, tear-streaked faces of people whose eyes are cast skyward in disbelief. One of the more haunting images Moore puts on screen involves an eerie snowfall of ash and errant paperwork filling a dreary, gray skyline.
What follows for the remainder of the film is Moore’s attack of the Bush administration’s post-9/11 policies that inevitably led to the current war in Iraq. Various connections are drawn between the Bush family, the current administration, oil-rich Saudi families, the Carlyle Group, Halliburton and a suspect omission in Dubya’s recently released service record. Moore adds to his accusations interviews with several congressmen, a lonely Oregon state trooper, a retired FBI agent and Craig Unger, author of House of Bush, House of Saud. Examining the color-coded terror alert system and the terrorist paranoia in the months that followed 9/11, Moore expands on the fear-consumption thesis of Bowling for Columbine and Barry Glassner’s The Culture of Fear asserting that the terror scale will never be lowered to a relaxed blue or complacent green. While a few of the connections Moore draws border on tenuous and a moment or two comes across as manipulative or ingenuous (the images of an idyllic Iraq prior to the US invasion, for instance, don’t seem like an accurate, everyday depiction of life in that country), what Moore sheds light upon calls into question the legitimacy of the Bush administration’s decisions post-9/11. Most importantly, the various figures and theories presented in Fahrenheit cause the audience to wonder why such decisions were made, why such bills were passed and why such evidence was not widely reported if at all.

There are some potshots against general buffoonery on the part of our conservative grotesques: several of Dubya’s glaring Bushisms making it to the screen as well as John Ashcroft’s patriotic, cringe-inducing singing debut, “Let the Eagle Soar” (watch it here). Given some of the more ridiculous moments in the last four years, who could blame Moore for using some mirthful material to fuel his fire? Throughout the film, Moore stays mostly off-camera allowing his interview subjects and archival footage to make a majority of his points. When Moore is briefly in front of the lens, he spends his scant screen time buzzing about the nation’s capitol doing what he does best, which is to say fucking shit up like a spirited showman.

Yet despite the fun at the expense of the Grand Ol’ Party and the occasional injection of sarcasm in Moore’s voice over, the tone of Fahrenheit runs mostly serious throughout. The images of war-torn Iraq where both civilian and US military casualties line the streets are disconcerting to say the least. Stateside, the time spent with Lila Lipscomb, a fellow resident of Moore’s beloved Flint who lost one of her children in the current war in Iraq, is part one of Fahrenheit‘s more heartbreaking moments. As the film closes, Moore cryptically quotes a passage from 1984 over the images of the primped grotesques marching off to perform.

The Mouse Backs Out

Fahrenheit‘s road to distribution is a peculiar one. In May of this year, Disney, parent company to distributor Miramax Films, refused to release the completed film. Disney chief executive Michael Eisner, commenting on the issue, stated that the company “did not want a film in the middle of the political process” and added that consumers did not look for the company to take sides. Moore’s agent claimed that the real reason for Eisner’s refusal to release the film was that it would jeopardize tax breaks for Disney-owned theme parks and hotels in Florida where Jeb Bush is governor. The New York Times published an editorial on the issue on May 6, awarding the Walt Disney Company with “a gold medal for cowardice” concerning its decision to block distribution. The editorial continued, “A company that ought to be championing free expression has instead chosen to censor a documentary that clearly falls within the bounds of acceptable political commentary.”

The film debuted at last month’s Cannes Film Festival, still no distribution deal in sight. While reports vary, when Fahrenheit was screened for the public and the press, the film received a 15-20-25-minute standing ovation. Thierry Fremaux, the festival’s artistic director, said that the ovation was the longest he’d ever seen at Cannes. Bowling for Columbine received a similarly enthusiastic ovation at the festival where it screened two years ago. The Cannes jury, headed by Quentin Tarantino, bestowed Fahrenheit with the festival’s highest honor — the Palme d’Or. Moore’s film is the first documentary since Jacques Cousteau’s The Silent World (1956) to win the prestigious award. Accepting the Palme d’Or, Moore said, “I have a sneaking suspicion that what you have done here and the response from everyone at the festival, you will assure that the American people will see this film.” He added, “I want to make sure if I do nothing else for the rest of this year that those who died in Iraq have not died in vain.” Moore’s suspicions were correct. On the strength of the Cannes win, and no doubt bolstered by the film’s controversy, IFC Films and Lions Gate Films partnered with Miramax founders Bob and Harvey Weinstein to finally ensure domestic distribution of Fahrenheit. The film is currently being shown at over 800 theaters nationwide.

All the Hubbub

And now in this first weekend of the film’s release, the controversy surrounding Dubya-critical film has reached a boiling point. Film critics thus far have been mostly positive, some proclaiming Fahrenheit Moore’s best-crafted work. A.O. Scott of The New York Times in his Cannes critic notebook characterized the film as Moore’s “most disciplined and powerful movie to date.” Roger Ebert and Richard Roeper, on the show that bares their respective surnames, gave Fahrenheit two enthusiastic thumbs up touting it as extremely well-made. High-profile internet critic Berge Garabedian of JoBlo’s Movie Emporium (www.joblo.com) has given a bona fide rave of the film. Garabedian boldly proclaimed, “…if there is one movie you see this year, make sure it’s Fahrenheit 9/11.” Even Roger Friedman on FoxNews.com enjoyed the film and, though not without some criticism, proclaimed it “a tribute to patriotism.”

Of course, not everyone shares the same opinion. The New York Post‘s Lou Lumenick found the “wet firecracker of a film” heavy-handed and full of hot air that recycled material from Moore’s Dude, Where’s My Country? Glenn Lovell of The San Jose Mercury News, like Lumenick an admirer of Bowling for Columbine, found Moore’s latest to be smug and arrogant, leaving the filmmaker looking petty and facile. Similar criticisms have been levied by Variety and The Hollywood Reporter. Kirk Honeycutt in his review considers Fahrenheit Moore’s weakest effort citing the film’s oversimplification of foreign policy and lack of focus. Philidelphia Weekly‘s Sean Burns panned the movie citing, amongst other things, Moore’s oversimplification of the current political climate and regurgitation of information. He proclaimed the film, “Rambling, undisciplined and often curiously halfassed.”

The outrage outside of the critical circle has been widespread, ranging from character and factual assaults to attempts to bar the film from theaters. The most prominent of the latter Moore opponents is Sacramento-based Move America Forward (www.MoveAmericaForward.org), a self-described non-partisan organization (the site apparently a front for political PR firm Russo Marsh and Rogers) committed to supporting the war on terrorism and supporting the armed forces. In one of its action alerts, the website urges supporters to contact theater operators telling them not to screen the film. Move America Forward uses the following analogy: “Think about it… If you walked into a Wal Mart store and saw they were selling merchandise that attacked the military, our troops and America’s battle against Islamic terrorism, wouldn’t you complain to the store manager or write a letter and ask that they not sell that product because it was undermining our national effort?” Boycott Liberalism (www.boycottliberalism.com), a website with an overtly stated political and ideological agenda, has listed Moore’s film as one of its “Boycotts of the Week.” Along for the ride were Bill Clinton’s memoir My Life, Madonna’s children’s book Yovak and the Seven Thieves and the documentary The Hunting of the President, a film which chronicles the smear campaign against Clinton while he was in office.

The success of these efforts is highly suspect. Interviewed in Nicole Sperling’s Hollywood Reporter article concerning the ban and boycott of Moore’s film, president of the National Association of Theater Owners John Fithian noted, “Any time any organization protests against a movie, they ensure that the movie will do better at the box office than it would have done otherwise. If they have any doubt about this, just ask Mel Gibson.” Gibson’s messianic gorefest The Passion of the Christ has grossed over $600 million worldwide.

Even Ray Bradbury, from whose dystopian novel Fahrenheit 451 Moore got his film’s title, is up in arms. The venerable 84-year-old science fiction writer claimed Moore stole the title of his landmark book without permission. Moore had reportedly said he would contact Bradbury, but by the time he did, changing the title would be unlikely. The august Bradbury, exhibiting a surprising amount of venom that his author photos don’t betray, apparently told the Swedish daily that first published the story, “Michael Moore is a screwed asshole, that is what I think about that case.” He added, “[Moore] is a horrible human being — horrible human!” Bradbury, who has demanded a public apology, continued to slam Moore, proclaiming the film D.O.A. and stating that no one would see it and that winning the Palme d’Or, like most awards, is mostly meaningless.

The film, which opened June 23 in New York City, broke box office records at two theaters its opening day. Reuters reported that the film sold $49,000 worth in tickets at Loew’s Village 7, which beat the record set by Men in Black, and took in over $30,000 at the Lincoln Plaza theater, which beat the record set by Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. When the film opened nationwide on June 25, many theaters across the country were sold out of its Friday screenings. The demand was so high at Loew’s that Fahrenheit supposedly had screenings every 45 minutes during normal operating hours with an additional seven screenings from 1:00am-9:30am.

As of this writing, Fahrenheit topped the weekend box office, the film grossing a projected $21.8, which is already more than the total box office take for Bowling for Columbine. To give this weekend total some context, according to Reuters, most of the other films in the top five are playing in over 2,500 theaters.

Fudged Figures, Falsities and the Fabrication of Facts

Numerous websites and articles have been written concerning Moore’s facts and possible manipulation, many of which, if I’m not mistaken, did not exist until after Moore’s Oscar speech. The most high profile of these anti-Moore websites include David T. Hardy’s sites (www.mooreexposed.com and www.hardylaw.net/Truth_About_Bowling.html) and Bowling for Truth (www.bowlingfortruth.com), each providing links to other pages that take Moore to task for his figures and facts. On Moore’s own site (www.michaelmoore.com), he has responded to several of the criticisms levied against him but as of now not all of them. Hardy and Jason Clarke (who runs www.moorelies.com) plan to further discredit the filmmaker in the book Michael Moore is a Big Fat Stupid White Man. Boasting a cover with a color scheme akin to one of Isaac Adamson’s Billy Chaka novels, the book is ironically published by Regan Books, the same people who published Moore’s own Stupid White Men. It will be interesting to see in the weeks that follow the release if Moore will respond to points made in the book.

In a column dated May 31 of this year, The Weekly Standard executive editor Fred Barnes accused Moore of fabricating an interview that appeared in Stupid White Men. In the article “Michael Moore and Me,” Barnes claims that he has never met Moore or spoken to him on the phone and that the part of the book in which Moore asks him questions concerning The Iliad were faked. Moore responded on his own website that the interview did in fact take place and an article concerning it appeared in the publication Moore’s Weekly on January 18, 1988. The interview was conducted after Barnes, on an episode of The McLaughlin Report, supported former Secretary of Education William Bennett’s ideal high school curriculum rich in Greek classicism and English literature. Moore gave Barnes a pop quiz featuring questions on The Iliad, The Inferno and Aristotle’s most famous pupil. Barnes, unable to answer Moore’s questions correctly, called an end to the test three questions in. The Moore’s Weekly article was later mentioned in The Washington Times on January 22, 1988.

Barnes’s article — which may or may not have been opportunistically written after Moore’s Cannes victory in order to garner some publicity — is one of many that arrived on the eve of Fahrenheit‘s release claiming Moore lied or fabricated material. An Associated Press piece that ran on June 6 interviewed representative Mark Kennedy, a Republican from Minnesota, who is featured in Fahrenheit. In the scene in question, Moore wanders the nation’s capitol attempting to get senators and representatives to enlist their children in the armed services. Apparently there is only one congressman with a child fighting in the war, South Dakota Senator Tim Johnson. Kennedy, who has two nephews in the military, said that Moore did not accurately portray the exchange in the film and selectively edited his screen time. In Jonathan Curiel’s San Francisco Chronicle piece on Moore, he addresses this issue noting that Kennedy, who proclaimed Moore “a master of the misleading,” has never read any of Moore’s books or seen any of his movies.

One of the most recent high-profile articles concerning Moore and possible fact manipulation comes from Christopher Hitchens, fellow gadfly, former writer for The Nation and author of The Trial of Henry Kissinger. Hitchens’ support for the war in Iraq tempers his rail against Moore in his Slate Magazine piece “Unfairenheit 9/11.” Summarizing Hitchens’ view of Moore’s latest is the following paragraph from his article:

“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.”
Hitchens takes Moore to task on various issues addressed in the film, occasionally resorting to a snarky ad hominem in between his for the most part erudite arguments. Thus far Moore has not promptly responded to Hitchens as he did to Michael Isikoff’s Fahrenheit-critical article “Under the Hot Lights” in Newsweek. One wonders if he will. Hitchens, posturing in one part of his article like a professional rassler in the height of a roid-rage fit, calls for a rematch of their onstage debate at the 2002 Telluride Film Festival. “Any time, Michael, my boy,” Hitchen writes. “Let’s redo Telluride. Any show. Any place. Any platform. Let’s see what you’re made of.” Given the tone of the above challenge, it’s likely the two will meet in a steel cage on pay-per-view.

Newark Star Ledger film critic Stephen Whitty has a fair assesment of Moore and his work. He opened his review of Fahrenheit, “Every few years, Michael Moore makes a movie. Every few years, Michael Moore makes some people deeply worried. No, not his targets. His supporters.” He adds, “They’re people who agree with what Michael Moore says — but refuse to defend to the death the way he insists on saying it.”

To some accusations levied against Moore and the possibility of lies and misrepresentation, only Moore himself can give a definitive answer. Perhaps a new label could be provided for the brand of documentary Moore has popularized and that people like Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me) have adopted. The two documentarians mentioned specialize in a certain form of cinematic opinion editorial, their films based on hard evidence, but the various theses arrived at through the filmmaker’s own sensibilities. The end aim of such films wouldn’t necessarily be to provide empirical facts per se like the sum of an equation or a listing in the phone book. The goal would instead be to inspire audience discourse, raise a viewer’s awareness to the issues addressed in a film and force individuals to ask questions. As Bertrand Russell asserted of philosophy, the same could be said of this new brand of documentary: the questions are infinitely more important than the answers.

The Mission to Dethrone Dubya

It seems that with Fahrenheit Moore has two missions; the success of one mission remains unknown for the time being while the other cannot fail. The first and most overt mission is obviously regime change. Moore’s acrimony toward the Bush is no secret and a taste of his dislike for the current administration was televised to approximately 37 million people (yeah, that Oscar speech again). Whether Fahrenheit can actually win the hearts and minds of conservatives and swing voters remains to be seen, though many in the former have likely opted to not see the film. This mission to get the shrub out of the oval office is shared by numerous other filmmakers, artists and celebrities who have, to varying degrees, voiced their disdain for the war in Iraq and the Bush administration. During this year’s Coachella Music Festival, one of the more inspiring and endearing moments involved Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne leading a chant of “Stop Bush” at the mainstage, alternately punching his large, yellow-gloved fists into the air with each syllable. Acceptance speeches at awards ceremonies have often addressed the plight of the war and the faults of current leadership (well, perhaps not at the CMA Awards). Documentarian Errol Morris’ gracious thank you at this year’s Academy Awards was followed by a tactful indictment of the “rabbit hole” of a war our country has waged; at the same ceremony, Best Actor winner Sean Penn cracked wise about weapons of mass destruction, namely their non-existence in Iraq. Conservatives have often criticized liberal or even slightly left-leaning celebrities for getting involved in politics even in a marginal way, yet strangely figures like Ronald Reagan and Arnold Schwarzenegger have proven to be immune to such criticism.

Celebrities have thus far show Fahrenheit their support, packing premieres of the film and applauding Moore’s effort in between photo ops. Guests in attendance at the June 8 Hollywood premiere at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences included Wes Anderson, Kevin Smith, Leonardo DiCaprio, Chris Rock, Martin Sheen, Spike Jonze, Jack Black and Arianna Huffington. At the New York premiere held six days later at Manhattan’s Ziegfeld Theater, guests in attendance included Kurt Vonnegut, Al Franken, Tim Robbins, Tony Bennett, Al Sharpton, Yoko Ono, Martha Stewart, and, the surprise of the night, Bill O’Reilly. O’Reilly reportedly walked out of Moore’s film midway through. Unfortunately for everyone’s favorite Fox News no-spinner, he met Moore in the lobby. According to New York Daily News‘ Lloyd Grove (yeah, I know he runs a goofy gossip column, but whatever), Moore asked O’Reilly, “Don’t you want to stay and watch the whole film?” The flustered O’Reilly offered a handshake, said something about needing to “tape something” and left.
This election year boasts an unprecedented number of politically charged films seeking to unseat Bush from the White House. Like Fahrenheit, the success will be gauged by the box office and, obviously more so, the polls this fall. Indie wunderkind John Sayles’ latest film Silver City stars Chris Cooper as a bumbling Dubya-like governor. Spike Lee’s new joint She Hates Me takes hits at a company not unlike Enron. According to an ABCNews.com report, the new Lee film also features the face of Dubya on a three-dollar bill. Pumping Iron and The Endurance director George Butler turns an adoring lens on Democratic presidential hopeful John Kerry’s Vietnam record for the film Tour of Duty. Of the phenomenon, Robert Thompson, a Television and Pop Culture professor at Syracuse University, said, “People of liberal ideology have finally found a cultural form that they can embrace the way people of conservative ideology have embraced talk radio.”

Conservative film critic and talk radio personality Michael Medved isn’t that fond of the trend, however. In the same ABCNews.com report, Medved commented that the entertainment industry is “supposed to reflect us all” but has “clearly taken sides” with “no attempt at objectivity.” When the entertainment industry ever made that claim I don’t quite know. If the entertainment industry does have an inherent obligation to reflect us all, one wonders if Medved would still object to an industry that provides people with both the family-value-oriented pap he adores and the unwholesome, violent fare he reviles. There is of course and audience for each brand of entertainment that, by Medved’s implication, must be met and represented.

In a Salem Radio Commentary, Medved called for conservatives to exhibit some creativity rather than complain about liberal message movies. “Conservatives rightly resent this stacked Hollywood deck, but they have only themselves to blame,” he said. “The best way to respond to liberal message movies is by investing money and creative energy to create conservative message movies, which currently don’t exist. When it comes to pop culture, conservatives need to do more creating and less complaining.”

Does Michael Moore Hate America?
Medved’s wish may soon to be granted. As a response to Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will, Frank Capra created Why We Fight and a Canadian editor produced a farcical short titled The Lambeth Walk. Hence as a response to Moore’s filmography, first-time filmmaker Michael Wilson has made the sensationalistically named film Michael Moore Hates America. Taking a cue from Roger and Me, one of Wilson’s aims is to interview Moore in the same way Moore attempted to interview General Motors Chairman Roger Smith. The poster and tagline for Wilson’s film even borrows from Roger and Me: Wilson depicted holding a microphone to an empty canvas movie star seat with the slogan “The story of a rebel who took on Mike.” Perhaps it is peculiar to use the tagline line characterizing Wilson as a rebel considering he proudly fights and has been employed by corporate America. Maybe the notion of rebellion has changed drastically in the last few years.

While it suited the above analogy to segue into Wilson’s response film, it’s obvious that comparing Moore to Riefenstahl is hasty and foolish. Sure, both used music to great effect in their films (Moore using rock and roll tunes from The Beach Boys and Neil Young while Riefenstahl used Herbert Windt’s Reich and roll score) and both use the techniques of filmmaking with great expertise, but there the similarities ought to end. Riefenstahl was a state-approved documentarian who was used to bolster support for the status quo. Moore, on the other hand, seeks to stir the powers that be and, in various ways, question authority. Indeed, a correlation between Capra or that anonymous Canadian film editor and Wilson is also too quick.

Wilson’s film, which the website (www.michaelmoorehatesamerica.com) described as a journey across the nation to discover if the American dream is still alive, seems more akin to protecting the status quo. One gets the sinking suspicion that Michael Moore Hates America will feature nothing more than myopic glimpses at pseudo-Horatio Algers who’ll confirm for Wilson — despite poverty, unemployment/underemployment, prejudice and lackluster education, amongst other things — that everything’s peachy in America. Perhaps it’ll be as unimpressively insipid and self-important as Eric Saperston’s similarly themed, though not politically loaded, documentary The Journey. Then again, one will have to wait and see what Wilson does with his material. Rumor has it that he’s aiming at a late summer release.

Mission Accomplished, Mike

But what with the attacks, applause, criticism and raves aimed in Moore’s direction, it’s apparent that he has succeeded with his other mission: Michael Moore wants to enrage and enliven, to awaken a sleeping giant by any populist means necessary. He wants to rile up people and generate a certain level of discourse that the mainstream media by and large does not inspire. Ain’t it Cool News‘ (www.aintitcoolnews.com) Harry Knowles puts it rightly in his review: “It is clear that [Moore] wants you, all of you to watch this film and do something… give a shit… to voice your anger at him, Bush, the system, something… BUT CARE! Find out more, read more and above all else fucking register to vote and VOTE.” Please note the strangely placed ellipses are as they appear in Knowles’ review, something he’s rather infamous for.

I think Fithian, as quoted in The Hollywood Reporter, puts it rightly: “The movie theater is a place of public discourse, and all views and philosophies are welcome. It’s the right place for the public to debate public issues.” Moore, using the silver screen as his forum, has accomplished his aim to make a point, a contentious one, but a point nonetheless. It is now up to the audience to become involved or, as the text reads during Fahrenheit‘s closing credits, to “do something.” In some sense, Moore may be preaching to the choir. The majority of the people who have seen the film are more likely than not fans of Moore’s films and agreed with his points going into the movie. Yet still, that doesn’t mean that those who’ve been moved or perhaps troubled by a decent sermon won’t want to discuss it with others.

That Fahrenheit has garnered this much support in its opening weekend (indeed, this much support over the rollercoaster two months leading to its release), that people have embraced the polemic and perched it atop the box office, that it has been talked about nearly to death points to the fact that there is something people find amiss in America. And it is better that we should hear a voice than cut it down, that it should speak and we should listen and that we should continue to talk about it rather than dismiss it. Moore has moved us, swayed us for him or against him, and has turned our questioning eyes skyward to the highest office in the land. That Moore and many other Americans strive for something better and is willing to hold those in power accountable disproves the title of Wilson’s film.

“Do something,” the film tells us, a message Fahrenheit‘s viewers cannot escape. It is undeniably important that this year we do do something because apathy will do no good; because another four years like the last four will be dire for the nation; because many are thirsty for some kind of change; because people are dead and they’re never coming back; because those in power, those grotesques, parading about the screen fail to leave one’s mind even after the theater lights brighten; and because this year, now more than ever, we cannot allow the ugly Americans to win.

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