"I would like to apologize for referring to George W. Bush as a deserter. What I meant to say is that George W. Bush is a deserter, an election thief, a drunk driver, a WMD liar, and a functional illiterate. And he poops his pants" Michael Moore
Usually you can guess you are successful when people do not even attempt to mimic you. Jerry Seinfeld was so successful at mastering the sitcom that TV networks gave up on the sitcom and relied instead on reality TV and re-runs of his show. His show had a real simple plot. It was about nothing without a story arch yet it was one of the most brilliant shows on TV. The TV show Seinfeld was television's best and brightest TV show. Now usually people watch TV because they got nothing to do but nobody took it so literally. Jerry Seinfeld is the only comedian who can make waiting hilarious. America's super-sized documentary filmmaker has become America's new champion of the left. One of the biggest reasons for his rise in popularity is the rise of right-wing voices in the mainstream media. Cable news networks have been hijacked by a right-wing agenda that reports favourable right-wing news stories mixed with celebrity hysteria. Worsening the situation is the post 9/11 reality that forced network news and major newspapers to adopt a pro-Bush stance or be labeled un-American. But as the scandals build up the major newspapers reverted to their pre-9/11 form where authority was questioned. However, TV was still dominated by a right-wing agenda with no voice for the left.
Instead of lobbying the networks and 24-hr news stations to become more balanced America's liberals decided to counter the attack through new mediums. In response to the republican dominated media, the left has established Air America, and MoveOn.Org. Combined with Michael Moore's controversial Fahrenheit 9/11 the left has made its biggest impact through unconventional mediums.
This sudden use of non-mainstream sources to get their views across has had consequences. The right has exploited it too and now the media is specialized unlike in the 20th century when people received their information from the same source. This new combative journalism has changed the face of news. It has allowed people to obtain the news they want to hear with their spin manipulating it to their own beliefs.
Bill O'Reilly and Michael Moore are two generals in America's combative ideological news war. O'Reilly is the typical loud mouth conservative commentator who chooses favourable guests and controls what they say through intimidation. Moore is despised by the right wing for his popularity but also because he looks like a redneck and they feel betrayed. He comes from Flint, Michigan (a rural town), is fat, wears a baseball hat, is scruffy and has a lifetime NRA membership. That is not your prototype liberal. With cable news under right wing rule Michael Moore used the big screen to get his message across. On film Michael Moore brings a hard hitting no prisoner approach that does not bother with the dullness of neutrality. Moore's entrance into documentary film making occurred almost by accident. He was editor of the magazine, Mother Jones during the mid-1980's until he was dismissed and through a lawsuit for wrongful dismissal he was able to finance the movie, "Roger and Me". In this feature he showed the effect of GM plant closures and went directly after the CEO of GM on camera. After that first success Michael Moore did not make another documentary film for 10 years. He tried his hand on TV, writing books, and directing Canadian Bacon on of John Candy's last films.
Michael Moore made a triumphant return with hit Oscar winning documentary Bowling for Columbine. It was prerogative, funny, and probably the most entertaining documentary ever made. It focused mainly on gun violence but also ventured into other problems in America's society. Although it was clear he wanted anti gun ownership he showed there were problems in society that led to gun violence in America and he allowed the viewer to ponder it. Even though the topic was dark the film itself was light hearted and hilarious. Michael Moore cast himself as the lonely activist and made a foul out of Charlton Heston when he confronted him.
Michael is the only filmmaker who can attract huge audiences to watch his documentaries. He strikes strong emotion with bizarre clips that depict the opposing side as utterly ridiculous. Michael Moore is on the opposite side of the spectrum as Bill O'Reilly but they share a common interviewing style. They both fail to seek to find new information but instead reinforce their pre-conceived opinion. Both of them control their interviews by keeping the subject under pressure and talking over their guest.
Fahrenheit 9/11 was Michael Moore's highest grossing movie but not his greatest achievement. At the Oscars it was clear his next target was George W Bush.
"We like nonfiction and we live in fictitious times. We live in a time where we have fictitious election results, that elect a fictitious president. We live in a time where we have a man sending us to war for fictitious reasons" Michael Moore
Unlike Bowling for Columbine where there was room for debate Moore attacked Bush without mercy. This documentary proved that Moore was American. He was obnoxious, uncompromising, and adamant that he was right. In this revealing documentary there was evidence that should have prevented Bush from being re-elected but the film did have its flaws. The documentary proved Moore was not a serious political filmmaker because in his zest to make it entertaining and gripping he failed to stay focused and neutral. The movie kicked off with a strong start but faltered in the second half where he relied solely on mourning mothers. My biggest problem with this is this happens in every war and he should have shown why this war was different not similar.Republicans were not scrutinized enough for their remarks that the President should not be questioned during wartime. First, he should have contrasted this with their comments during the Kosovo war. Second, republicans tied the hands of FBI when significant amounts of their resources were used to investigate the Clinton-Lewinsky affair instead of locating sleeping terrorist cells. Third, in Fahrenheit 9/11 Iraq was show as a peaceful and prosperous country before they were attacked. Everybody knows this was false because the country was crippled by sanctions. Fourth, racial profiling was just skimmed over and he should have shown the hypocrisy of criticizing other countries human rights records and at the same time Rumsfeld declaring the Geneva convention irrelevant. Lastly, 9/11 was not the worst tragedy of all-time. Genocide in Rwanda, AIDS in Africa, and the Drug Trade in South America took far more lives but received less media attention because Americans were not involved. Michael Moore did not touch on this.
Notwithstanding these objections it was still beneficial for Americans to learn about Bush's conflict of interests. Michael Moore is a personality that will be stirring the pot for years to come. It also looks like Michael Moore will be sticking to what works - documentary filmmaking. Two projects that he is working on are one on America's healthcare system and a sequel to Fahrenheit 9/11. It is best for him to stay independent and continue to be Corporate America's most feared individual.
Updated: April 28, 2008
Created: April 11, 2005
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