Sit back, grab a beer/cocktail/coffee/soda/juice/water, put your feet up and relax. We're going to be here for a while. I've gone back and forth about my reaction to Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 and exactly what I have to say. I hope you'll bear with me, and I encourage everyone's thoughts and comments, as long as they are actually thoughts and not simple rhetoric such as "Michael Moore is a liar." As I mentioned in my post late last night, I wanted to approach the film as just that – a film. Not a polemic; not an op-ed piece; not a investigative journalism – just a documentary film, which does not mean that it needs to be balanced.
Well, that couldn't happen. September 11, 2001 is still fresh in all our memories; the war in Iraq is ongoing, regardless of any turnovers of sovereignty -- whatever that means considering that nearly 140,000 American troops are still there; and the myriad of issues addressed in this film, whether one agrees with Moore's take on them or not, are at the forefront of everything we as American citizens – and more importantly voters, because history proves that while all the latter must be the former, the opposite is hardly true – need to investigate and contemplate between now and November 2, 2004.
Still, I want to try to address the filmmaking, because the technique and artistry utilized by Moore is brilliant. I'm sorry to say I completely disagree with Filmbrain's assessment in which he says "Moore hasn't created an aesthetic around his message." Of course he has. His very ability to manipulate the laughs and tears from the audience comes from this aesthetic. Deliberately juxtaposing Bush-isms with contrary images or recreating the opening credits of Bonanza while replacing Lorne Greene, Michael Landon, Pernell Roberts and Dan Blocker with Bush, Rumsfeld, Cheney and British Prime Minister Tony Blair is most definitely creating an aesthetic and not just a montage. His hysterical presentation of selected members of the "Coalition of the Willing" does the same thing
But so what? That's what filmmakers do. All filmmakers, I would argue. And in fact, all filmmakers with a point to get across propagandize, whether they are documenatarians or fictional storytellers. The word "propaganda" carries a negative connotation these days due to how propaganda has often been used but that is not really a part of its definition. According to Merriam-Webster, "propaganda" carries the following three definitions: