OPINIONS 101: FAHRENHEIT 6.25
June 23, 2004
It's Wednesday, June 23, 2004, 1:32 a.m. on the Pacific Coast. In two more days, on June 25 one of the most important American movies of the decade—perhaps ever—will be opening in theaters across the country.
Filmmaker Michael Moore has been dubbed "controversial" by the media. It has been no small battle for Mr. Moore to have his film, which won the award for Best Picture at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival, shown to you and me. And really, Moore's battles have probably just begun. He's already hired and consulted with serval attorneys in anticipation of possible attacks he may soon be faced with. Moore is popular with many (as his book sales, lectures, and films clearly demonstrate) but unpopular with some. Eighty-year-old skydiver George Bush (and really, how much of our tax dollars were spent so that the old man could skydive with Secret Service escorts [twice, no less, to prove that he's a "real" man] on his birthday?) is not a fan of Moore. Nor are any of the Bush clan, I suppose. Nor is the mainstream media, which has already begun its vivisection of Moore’s latest documentary. I find it curiously interesting that at a time when the national news media pretty much swallows anything the Oval Orifice shoves down their throats that they would suddenly and with such venom attack and try to dismember Moore’s latest film before it’s even been released. One could argue, “That’s the media’s job—to question things that sound questionable.” And that is precisely one of the points Moore is trying to make, that is—Why didn’t (hasn’t) the media questioned anything the Bush administration has done over the last four years?
Whether you think Michael Moore is a decent man who is trying to raise the awareness of the average American, whether you think he is un-American, whether you think he is the next Hitler are all beside the point. When he was accused of being antipartisan regarding Bush, Moore flatly admitted that he is not a Republican, just as he admitted that he is not a Democrat. He is neither, and again, I think that is the point. That the Bush administration has done what it has done to warrant Moore’s documentary is unfortunate for the Bush aristocracy. And granted, I’m not making these statements based on having seen this movie, because I haven’t yet seen it and won’t be seeing it until opening day, 7:45 pm showing. I am writing as an individual who believes in America and who believes that our President’s agendas are his own and that they are in disharmony with the majority of Americans who are, for wont of a better descriptor, “average Americans.” I believe the current administration chose to capitalize on the tragedy that was September 11, 2001, and then propagandized upon that tragedy to usher in a new era of fear within our nation. The incessant “Terrorist Threats” that our government issues all too often are mere testimony to this fact. Meanwhile, another four US soldiers were killed today in a “war” that we apparently won last year.
If nothing else, I encourage everyone to see Moore’s film because it will assuredly generate dialogue. It will generate controversy and discussion. It will, hopefully, make us think for ourselves and perhaps question what is happening in this nation. And it will, again hopefully, raise a few eyebrows and help people to ask, “Is George W. Bush really the right man for the job? Does he really have my interests at heart? Does he really have America’s interests at heart?” Let me assure you that mine are not “anti-American” thoughts. On the contrary, it is my own citizenship in America that permits such thoughts to be spoken or written openly. We (supposedly) live under a democracy which, according to the thesaurus on my Microsoft Word software, is the antithesis of a “dictatorship.” We are guaranteed the right of freedom of speech. And it is for this reason that I always have to chuckle in disbelief when a “controversial” figure like Michael Moore appears on a national television program such as the Today Show and the perky host reads online letters from viewers. I laugh because there is always, always the letter from some wacko who writes very articulately (as was the case during one of Moore’s recent TV interviews) something akin to: “You’re an anti-American who is full of lies and you disrespect the President and the troops fighting for our freedom and if you don’t like it here you should do us all a favor and move to Canada.” Yeah, got to love those crackpot letter writers, callers, and demonstrators. They are the same individuals who simply do not understand the basic fundamentals upon which our country was born, and that’s a damn shame considering we’re a nation that isn’t even 250 years old. They subscribe to the false notion of (as our "leader" has laughably proclaimed on more than one occasion), "You're either with us or you're against us," or as Patrick Swayze said in my personal favorite movie, Roadhouse, "It's my way or the highway." My retort to this philosophy consists of one word: WRONG!
We don't have to be "with you."
We don’t have to like it.
We’re allowed to complain.
We don’t have to agree.
We don't have to take the highway just because we disagree with "your" way of thinking.
Why are so many individuals afraid to have (and express) individual thoughts? We live in a nation that worships sports heroes and has, I fear, adopted a "get onboard" attitude. Get on board! Join the team! C'mon, be one of us! Professional sports foster a "us versus them" mentality. But it is just the tip of the snowcone. Just as equally to blame are the mainstream media and network television as a medium. We are spoon-fed the news on CNN, NBC, CBS, ABC, and FOX. It’s spoon-fed to us as if we were infants, strained and filtered for our own “protection,” and we sit back and watch and believe what we are shown; and later in the evening we watch “reality” television to discover how we’re supposed to live our lives.
I don’t like it. And no, I’m not moving to Canada even if I do like Rush. Until the Constitution is amended, until “Freedom of Speech” is revoked, I’ll gripe about it as much as I want. I’ll complain about the pitiful state of television, psychotic anti-abortionists who believe they have the right to murder doctors and nurses, the slaughter of animals for food and clothing, violence in movies, lax gun control laws, corruption in law enforcement, religious zealots who try to tell me what I should believe in, the sorry state of the nation's healthcare system, shoddy self-serving politicians, and an America that has forgotten that (to use the Spider-Man analogy) with great power comes great responsibility. We’re supposed to be the most powerful nation on earth—how about we start being a bit responsible? Instead, we choose the coward's course.
Don't like what someone is saying?
Disagree with someone's religion?
Burn their church.
Don't like abortion clinics?
Blow them up.
Upset that the Steelers didn't win this week?
Kill the stranger at the bar who's wearing a Jets hat.
Forgive the heavy-handed sarcasm, but these aren't exactly exaggerations. Sometimes this nation sickens me, but no, I'm not leaving it. Running away isn't going to make it a better place. I might easily find a better place to live, but that won't stop the killing and deceit. I will, instead, vocalize my disdain and will vote for candidates that I believe mirror my own believes. And if you disagree, that is your right. But do not ask me to leave, because my response will be swift and direct. Change the rules. Amend the Constitution and Bill of Rights. Outlaw free thought and free speech. Do these things and I'll gladly leave, but otherwise stay out of my way because, even if you choose not to, I do choose to voice my thoughts and I encourage others to do the same.
So go and see Fahrenheit 9/11. Do not dismiss it based on negative reviews that might be posted at Amazon.com, CNN.com, or Time.com. Do not dismiss it if your friends think it is worth dismissing. And by all means, do not simply sit at home and watch The Casino and The Simple Life on Fox. Get out, go and see the film, and then form an opinion of your own. Whether you like it or not (and there are plenty who feel threatened by this film and, believe me, do not like it), Fahrenheit 9/11 is arriving. If for no other reason, see it because "they" (and we know who they are) don't want you to see it! Watch and digest it. You can always complain about it later to your Congressman, neighbor, pastor, or therapist. Or maybe you'll choose to “clear” your mind by partaking of a White Chicks/Dodge Ball double feature—after all, we’re living in a democracy; we're free to write and speak and move about whenever we want. We’re living in America.
Next: The Consciousness Stream (really)