Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Am I Being Too Sensitive? Or Just a Petulant Asshole?

We here at ASZ like to think we're just a small, insignificant zephyr that contributes to the overall velocity of the Left Blogistan wind machine. So, it's always uplifting to receive confirmation of just how insignificant we truly are - approximately that of a fart in a hurricane. The most recent example of ASZ's "insignificantness" is demonstrated by contrasting ASZ's view of Fahrenheit 9/11 to that of the hoity toidy big guy left leaning blogs.

I swear, it's like the opinion makers in Left Blogistan are apologizing for Michael Moore. Or agreeing more with the "right" than the "left" on overall impressions of the movie. I mean, fuck. What's up with that? Michael Moore has graciously given the progressive movement in the U.S. an absolutely wonderful tool with which to work. And what are some progressives doing with it?

Throwing it out the friggin’ window or giving the Freepers of the world ammo for their own noise machines. Downplaying or apologizing. Here's the most recent example - Kevin Drum of Political Animal:

What to say? The argument over the film mostly seems to revolve around whether it's factually accurate and presents a logical case, a conversation so pointless as to be laughable. I mean, it's a polemical film from Michael Moore, not a Brookings Institution white paper. It's like complaining that editorial cartoons are unfair because they don't portray the nuance of serious policy discussions.

Now, as it happens, I thought Fahrenheit 9/11 was a bit mediocre even as polemic, but the thing that really struck me about the film was the almost poetic parallellism between its own slanders and cheap shots and the slanders and cheap shots of pro-war supporters themselves over the past couple of years. If Moore had done this deliberately, it would have been worthy of Henry James.

Take the first half hour of the film, in which Moore exposes the close relationship between the Bush family and the House of Saud. Sure, it relies mostly on innuendo and imagery, but then again, he never really makes the case anyway. He never flat out says that the Bush family is on the Saudi payroll. Rather, he simply includes "9/11," "Bush," and "Saudi Arabia" in as many sentences as possible, thus leaving the distinct impression that George Bush is a bought and paid for subsidiary of the Saudi royal family.
Kevin, did you and I see the same movie? Here's what I got of out the same scene you're describing - Mike Moore relied heavily on the input of Craig Unger, author of the bestseller House of Bush, House of Saud. I thought that both Moore and Unger were quite successful in building their case for the connection. There is a connection. That's all they wanted you to know. Now, if you want to get into it deeper and understand specific connections and favors exchanged between the Bushes and bin Ladens, go buy the goddam book. For goodness sakes, no one could build an airtight case in 15 or 20 minutes, but Moore did a pretty damn good job.

And regarding mediocre even as polemic - when have you seen a better polemic movie - and no, I'm not taking about Shindler's List or something similar. I'm talking about a populist documentary movie (I'm already tired of the word, "crockumentary").

Over at Whiskey Bar, the proprietor (Billmon) touched off a shitstorm this past weekend by damning Moore with faint praise, having not even seen the movie. I'll admit that Billmon actually gives some backhanded compliments to Moore's “playing” of the media (which Mike does quite well) but Christ, Bill:

For years now, Limbaugh, Coulter and their inferior imitations have been passing off their slanted misreadings, unproven allegations and flimsy lies as factual reporting. When caught out on a lie or a smear, they either ignore the evidence, or - like Limbaugh - retreat into the phony defense of arguing that all they're doing is expressing a subjective opinion. "I'm just in the entertainment business," Rush likes to say.

Well, now there's someone on the left who knows how to play their game, and play it brilliantly. Moore may be an egomaniac, and a huckster showman in the best (or worst) tradition of P.T. Barnum and Walter Winchell, but man, he's effective. He's learned to play the mainstream media like a Stradivarius.
Juan Cole over at "Informed Consent", one of the most progressive, thoughtful blogs around opines:

The Saudi bashing in the Moore film makes no sense...

The story Moore tells about the Turkmenistan gas pipeline project through Afghanistan and Pakistan also makes no sense...

But some of the innuendo about the Saudis and Afghans just seems an attempt to damn by association, and seem to me to be based on faulty logic and inaccurate assertions...
ARRGH! Come ON, guys - we progressives have been given manna from heaven from Michael Moore. Perhaps he's right when he says, "You can see us coming down the street. You know, ‘Hey! Hi! How’s it going?’ We’ve got that big shit eating grin on our face all the time because our brains aren’t loaded down." Mike drops this great, big, juicy, liberal wet kiss in our lap in the form of Fahrenheit 9/11, and leading progressive bloggers are tripping all over themselves to find fault with either Moore himself or the movie??

For crap's sake, build this movie up! "Faulty logic and innacurate assertions"?? Is it just me, or is that supposed to be the exclusive domain of Coulter, Limbaugh, Savage, and Hannity? Mike Moore is on our side! There's more truth in the worst 5 minutes of Fahrenheit 9/11 than there is in a week's worth of bloviating by any of the aforementioned neocon megaphones.

So I'm asking the leaders in Left Blogistan: quit back-lighting the minor faults of this celluloid screed against the object of our disaffection, and get onboard the bus. Quit trying to impress people with your ability to discern intellectual nuance. Go ahead and get candy-sticky-stupid-sweet about this movie. Right now, Mike Moore should be reveling in universal praise from opinion makers on the left, not defending himself from negativity on both sides of the aisle. Life’s difficult enough for an instigator when the brickbats are being flung from only one side.

Folks, if I've hammered on nothing else since I started this blog, it's that progressives need to keep "Team Bush" on the defensive from now to until November. We need to be using Fahrenheit 9/11 as a springboard for our own talking points. In the final analysis, the movie hangs together quite well, and it does deliver a very strong central theme. Allow me, as an admittedly insignificant zephyr, to boil Mike Moore's 120 minute message down to 12 shorts words for you:


And that's what DOUBLE BURN is all about.

I'll end my rant with a snippet from Patrick over at Yelladog (check his music out):

The Right is left squalling about this film without having seen it. They do so at peril to their own credibility, especially when those of us that have seen it have found it to be such a pro-American and (in the best possible way) pro-life film.
Now that's the F9/11 that I saw.

Update, 10/10/04, 10:30PM: Yes, campers, there's comments below - lots of them. Haloscan just forgets old postings after awhile, and doesn't log the number of comments for some reason. Check 'em out. It was quite the lively discussion.

Quick Links to other ASZ F9/11 Postings:
Richard's F9/11 Review
More Moore