The Fahrenheit 9/11 Files

And now to be serious again. Or maybe not so much serious as slightly less egomaniacal. The discussion of Michael Moore’s new movie rages on. Or not really rages, perhaps, but several people are talking about it. Todd Gitlin, for example, who has some reservations –

But now a pause for a moment of conscience. Let intellect have its due. Moore cuts plenty of corners, so how good can that be? Compelling? Useful? Moore specializes in hodgepodge. He jokes his way past the rough edges. He’s neither journalist nor documentarian, for he doesn’t set out to discover what he doesn’t already know. To patronize Michael Moore by calling him useful is to give him a pass for shoddy work, sloppy insinuations, emotional blackmail and all–around demagoguery.

I haven’t seen ‘Fahrenheit 9/11’ so I can’t comment on that in particular – well I can, of course, and I’ve been known to comment noisily on movies I haven’t seen, but I won’t right now, is what I mean. I haven’t seen ‘Bowling for Columbine’ either. But I watched ‘TV Nation’ when it was on, and I’ve seen the earlier movies – so I certainly do know what Gitlin means. But I also know what Gitlin means later on in the article:

So give Moore a cheer for this…because, in the thick of a rolling political emergency, he’s packing in blue–state crowds and blue–niche–of–red–state crowds and who–knows–what–color–in–purple–state crowds. Fahrenheit 9/11 opened as the highest–grossing nonfiction (some would quarrel with the label, but never mind) film of all time. Its average box office take per theatre beat out – good God – Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ.

Yep. I’m in two minds, I suppose, because I think nonfiction movies ought to be actually nonfiction movies, but on the other hand – the left is so pathetic and hapless and ignored over here, it is very difficult not to rejoice that his movie is packing them in and his books are best-sellers. Very difficult indeed, so difficult that I don’t even try.

The issue is also being discussed at Crooked Timber and Normblog and Crooked Timber again.

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