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Everything you wanted to know about Bush but couldn’t find in the US Media

Farenheit 9/11 by Michael Moore

Friday 30 July 2004, by Christopher Montel

Michael Moore had an immediate taste of the effects the attacks on the World Trade Center Towers had on the american public scene, when he was asked at the last minute by his editors to take out some of the heat condensed on his then latest work, Stupid White Men, scheduled for release the same week. But asking Moore to step into line is giving him a new reason not to, its now a well-known fact. And its partly one of the reasons which eventually led to the release of Farenheit 9/11, to show the American electorate months before the Presidential elections in 2004 some useful footage it would never, ever, get on regular forms of mass media.

Farenheit 9/11 is more or less the making of of an awful flick; an unauthorized, non-edited version of the reality show of American Politics. After getting a reminder of the previous episodes, where W is caught talking about bugs, dogs and trailers, the film begins with off-stage excerpts of all the main protagonists preparing the set, turning on their microphones, or combing their hair, sometimes with their Spin Doctor’s saliva, sometimes with their own.

Showing Wolvowitz drooling on his comb has drawn some criticism from the media such as Newsweek, but you can only imagine that Moore decided to include this moment to show that these Princes Elect also debase themselves in doing such a thing. In fact, that poor bastard Wolvowitz never looked as humane and sympathetic when you see him sketch that shaky smile with his hair full of saliva, implicitly asking the camera if he looks good enough for the public. You’d almost forgive the guy for all he’s said and done.

But Moore is obviously not here to make these guys more likeable as we are now months from the 2004 Presidential elections, and certainly not to support the Democratic Party, which has proved once again how spineless its leadership and representatives could be. Either when they failed to support the demands made for investigation on the outrageous methods Governor Jed Bush and his cronies used to disenfranchise entire segments of the American citizenry- usually predominantly Black- to make sure the Democrats would not win the state of Florida, or at least raise questions on the invasion of Iraq.

With more than 100 million tickets sold in the US in the first two weeks after its release, has Farenheit 9/11 become a mass phenomenon of its own? Its a record for a documentary, but calling Farenheit 9/11 a documentary is almost as pertinent as calling Fox News a reliable source of information. The only difference is that Michael Moore never pretended to give anything more than a organized counter-attack against the mass intoxication the American public has suffered from since September 11th, 2001.

In other words, Moore decided not to add on to the more objective accounts of Georges W Bush’s presidency- some of them quite excellent such as The World According to Bush by William Karel- but to fight poison with poison. Yet the logic behind Moore’s pamphlet is a little more subtle than just taking an eye for an eye and revenge, however sweet, for mass indoctrination.

Moore mentions briefly the comparison between Iraq and Vietnam, but after watching his movie you actually understand to what extent methods of protests have shifted from mass social demonstrations against the Vietnam War to a structured and carefully orchestrated- maybe too orchestrated- counter attack on the state of terror imposed by the Bush administration. In the 1960s anti-war protests caught the lens of the American media as a novel social phenomenon, almost an attraction, and for just a few years became a political force which managed to a certain extent to disrupt the sense of conformity the US state had tried to instill on the population to make it adhere to its own interests in mobilizing the country in the Vietnam war.

In this sense, even if they remain very different in nature, the invasion of Iraq can be seen to have been orchestrated at home with the same methods of indoctrination as the Vietnam war 40 years before. But the situation today cannot allow in any way a resurgence of these mass protests against the ruling puppeteers, or at the very best, 9/11 is still too recent in the collective memory of Americans as a whole to be properly assessed and understood by the population.

Many Americans understood better and earlier than the rest of the world what the attacks on the Twin Towers truly meant for the American population- state-orchestrated hysteria, the infringement of individual and civic rights and a sacro-saint excuse for neo-conservatives in Washington to hijack US foreign policy for their own interests. At the time of the Vietnam war, the shift in the opinion of the ”silent majority”, in Nixon’s words, from passive support to restlessness, is due mainly to the shift of the US media in the late 60s. However, today the US mainstream media is in many ways responsible for the fact that ”President” Georges W Bush was able to spend four years at the White House without fear of impeachment.

Why is it for example that the only Americans who were aware of the fact that Bush was not able to do the traditional walk down Pennsylvania Avenue on his way to the White House were the few thousand who went to Washington to pelt eggs and tomatoes on his Limousine, to protest the Coup d’Etat? The cameras of all the main News networks were there, yet all decided not to show this incredibly evocative footage, which testified how Bush’s allies had managed to steal the elections and place him on the Presidential throne.

Its only by watching Moore’s Farenheit 9/11 that the majority of the US public could properly inform itself on what federal politics have truly been about for the past few years. There are of course many fine productions which deal more objectively with the subject, and which for that matter respect more the art of documentary film-making, but let’s face it : who in the US would go and see them except a handful of over-educated upper-middle class urban "liberals"? (The word itself "liberal", as "Cammunist" half a century ago, is enough today to send somebody to the burning stake).

Moore had a choice between mass information, which would attract more people and thus serve the purpose of this pamphlet, and a more refined and elitist angle. He chose, as he has been doing since Roger and Me, the first option. Even for the staunchest supporters of America’s highly mediatized dissenting activist, its a sad state of affairs if the bulk of the citizenry of the ”World’s oldest democracy” in Colin Powell’s words needs this very biased, extremely sarcastic piece of counter-propaganda to be properly informed on the true state of domestic and foreign affairs in the United States.

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