Wearing its politics on its sleeve, the film runs the risk of preaching to the choir.
"I want to preach to the choir," counters Moore. "The choir in America are the people who don't vote. They're young, they're poor, they're black, they're single mothers and working-class people who have sunk into despair and cynicism. Look at the numbers. It's not the rich who don't vote.
As we sat down in our seats at the 11 p.m. screening of Fahrenheit 9/11, my friend E. commented that it was great to see a room full of "our people". And it was.
I've read Moore's books, and followed Craig Unger's reporting, so a lot of the information in the movie wasn't new to me. But I was shocked at how many details of the 2000 election debacle I'd forgotten: the Gore "victory in Florida" party, which caused the whol audience to groan in sympathy; the awful scene in the Congress when Gore presided over his nemesis' anointment, and nearly every Dem. House member of the Congressional Black Caucus got up to register an objection; the 10,000 protestors who forced Bush to forgo the traditional inaugural walk to the Capitol when he assumed office. And the point that cannot be stated enough these days; almost every independent investigation of what happened in Florida agrees that Gore really won. We're being governed by a usurper.
I was surprised at how viscerally this run-down affected me. I was, quite literally, flushed with rage. I wanted Gore to win, and I recall being angry at how things went down, but at the same time I thought that there wasn't much difference between the two parties. That seems comically ignorant now.
I still believe that two-party system is flawed, and that we need to develop viable third and fourth parties. But the difference between this band of Republicans and every band of Democrats is all too clear at this point.
Moore said today that the film is being embraced in Republican strongholds. I wonder if that's true? I don't know if seeing the film would change the minds of people who are planning to vote for the Chimp-in-Chief again. Probably not the ones who believe Bush is doing the Lord's work. But the ones, like my poor misguided family in Ohio, who vote Republican for fuzzy economic reasons (and don't care to grasp the finer details about Bush's economic policies, and how they betray his professed conservative ideals)? I don't think anything could change their minds, if living under this current administration, in a state that's lost 270,000 jobs, hasn't done the trick.
It's an emotional movie; from stirring up all of my left-over manger from 2000, I was slapped in the face by footage from September 11. I was working in a building across the street from the Capitol that day, and the terror I felt when we heard that a plane was headed for the Capitol dome has made most of the remaining day kind of hazy. Film of people screaming and running and crying, and the later images of all of those flyers for the missing seem horribly new to me every time I see them.
And then all of the stuff about Bush's Saudo connections. I think Moore could have hit his points a little harder here; yes, connecting all of the dots between the Bushies and the House of Saud is interesting, but what's the larger point? I feel like he was torn here between his real passion, which is class warfare and telling us all to be wary of the rich, and making Bush look frighteningly incompetent. For my money, the real horror of the Bush administration is how they've used 9/11 as an excuse to hijack civil rights and invade a sovereign nation, how they lied to Congress and to us to push us into war with Iraq, how they've cut taxes for all their rich friends at the expense of all of us, and how much we'll all be paying for these mistakes in the years to come. Yes, the Saudis are given special privileges and they have an alarming amount of money invested in the U.S. economy, and yes, 15 of the 17 hijackers on 9/11 were Saudi. But what are we supposed to do about that? Invade, and sully the site of Islam's holy cities (further than we already have by stationing out troops there)? That would go over well.
So, it was a good movie. It left me feeling wrung out emotionally and yet energized. There are lots of funny little bits, and many images that are almost too horrible to look at; dead Iraqis, Iraqis burned by incendiary agents, dead U.S. soldiers, wailing women on both sides. I wish it had been a little more focused. I wish it had spelled things out a little bit more for people who were hearing that information for the first time. I wish there wasn't enough material about the avarice, deception, meanness of spirit, incompetence, and stupidity of the POTUS to fill an entire movie. But if wishes were horses, I'd be out somewhere riding my pony right now.