After decades of liberals dominating the institutional media, where many draw a steady salary pretending to be objective, conservatives overran the entrepreneurial media, where a few can strike it rich being entertaining arguers. Michael Moore deserves applause for venturing out of the plush left-of-center sinecures and making a fortune re-energizing the feature documentary, a medium that had been as dormant as AM radio before Rush Limbaugh.
In 1989’s “Roger and Me,” Moore exhibited a fine, withering disdain for the common folk of his hometown of Flint, Mich., who no doubt scorned the youthful Moore as a smart-mouthed lardbutt-pinko-egghead. And what an extraordinary revenge Moore exacted upon his old tormentors—to make himself rich by duping NPR-subscribers into anointing him the authentic voice of the working class he despised!
Of course, the Volvo-buyers who went to “Roger and Me” didn’t much care about laid-off General Motors autoworkers. I doubt if even Moore takes his 1937-style anti-business screeds seriously. They do provide Moore, however, with safe fallback positions while supplying the lucrative but tricky market for what white liberals do care passionately about: identity politics, especially their own need to feel morally and intellectually better than conservatives. (In May, for example, hundreds of liberal websites enthusiastically fell for a hoax claiming that Democratic states have much higher IQs than Republican states.) So that’s what Moore spoon-feeds his audience—reassurances of their own superiority.
For example, metropolitan Liberals support gun control for a hard-headed reason: to disarm the dangerous urban minorities who threaten them. But liberals hardly want to admit that, even to themselves, so they flocked to Moore’s “Bowling for Columbine,” a minstrel show about scary white rural gun nuts and the evil corporations that profit off them.
In “Columbine,” Moore did ask one interesting question: how come Canada has many guns but few murders? Moore stared into the abyss of political incorrectness at the obvious answer—Canada is only 3 percent black and Hispanic—and blinked. It’s so much safer blaming tacky K-Mart for selling bullets.
Moore is an admirably nasty editor of found material, and in his hit docucomedy “Fahrenheit 9/11” he assembles an amusing greatest-hits collection of George W. Bush’s impression of a smirking chimp.
While adequately entertaining, “Fahrenheit 9/11” is, unfortunately, as ultimately disappointing as the Bush presidency. Moore plays it safe, laboriously hinting that nefarious corporate interests were behind the world-staggering events of the last three years. Yet, his allusions never build to much. Did you know that former President George H.W. Bush advises the Carlyle Group, in which the bin Laden clan has invested? Oh … you did? Well, moving along quickly … did you know that …
Moore utterly ignores the administration’s tragicomic infatuation with convicted embezzler Ahmad Chalabi to focus (if that’s a word that can describe such a scattershot movie) on corporate connections, such as Unocal’s proposed oil pipeline through Afghanistan. Sure, Mike, that’s what the Afghanistan War was all about! Moore’s strategy is both trivializing and eyeball-glazing, like a hate-Clinton muckraking documentary that expends most of its energies on Whitewater.
Moore has obtained illuminating footage showing what it’s truly like to fight a guerrilla war: some GI’s bust into an Iraqi house and tie up a young man while his womenfolk wail. The futility of our strategy of smashing down people’s doors until they stop being anti-American has seldom been made more vivid. But then Moore starts yammering about Halliburton again and his momentum dissipates.
You can see why Moore chickened out on mentioning Chalabi. He’d have to explain who the swindler’s American enablers were, and that might have split his target market of lefties into warring pro-Israel and pro-Palestine factions. It’s much more prudent just to gesticulate at the Carlyle Group and imply they had something to do with 9/11.
Moore could have instead pointed out, more tellingly, that on 9/11 the new Bush administration had been cracking down on the ethnic profiling of Arab airline passengers, such as, oh, Mohammed Atta. Like Bush’s banning of “secret evidence” in terrorist prosecutions, this was part of Karl Rove’s outreach to minority voters.
But that alarming truth—that Bush endangered national security to be more multiculturally sensitive—is the last thing Moore’s audience wants to hear
Rated R for a twelve-letter word and some war carnage.