Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004)

2142661020aIs it too late to talk about George Bush Jr.? Or Michael Moore for that matter? After all, ten years have passed since filming of Fahrenheit 9/11, and more than that since the events depicted in it.  In a way, it is too late. In the other way, it’s never too late. Stage has been set a long time ago. Only thing that changes are actors. Sometimes even they stay the same. What can then be said that hasn’t been said before by many a conspiracy nut and some intelligent people as well? Is Fahrenheit 9/11 propaganda? It surely is. Is it open about it? Well, as open as Bowling for Columbine was. Maybe more. Is it worth our time then? Well, yes and no both look like a good answer. One of the questions that are worth checking out in the context of this movie is an ever-present question of an audience. Who is the (intended) reader/viewer of Michael Moore’s “documentary”? Let’s see what we can find.

What is the core of the Fahrenheit 9/11? Media manipulates. No shit, Sherlock. People in power lie to the masses. Well, yes they do. Memories are short and a spin can be put on everything. Confirmed more times than we can count. All these truisms are then applied to the Bush administration, 9/11, War on Terror and oil business’s. In the context of time, this kind of thing was maybe new or innovative (wouldn’t know, I don’t follow that much media or documentary moviemaking), but Moore’s film couldn’t escape many problems of such narratives. Thing is – all of these truisms combined spell out a “don’t trust authority” message all across the screen in bold metaphorical letters. This message has been utilized by many critically inclined artists, columnists, filmmakers, intellectuals and all sorts of people. And yes, throughout the history we learned that there is a definitive value in those words. We shouldn’t trust anyone. And we don’t. Still, despite our mistrust, things don’t seem to change (cosmetic changes we don’t count as true changes). Because, when you think about it, not trusting someone doesn’t do shit.

thumbAn abstract example. Consider Fahrenheit 9/11 to be a definite take on all the business with Bush, September 11 and war in Iraq. Consider it to be an authoritative piece of film-journalism that is both sincere and true in all its efforts. Should we apply our message on it as well? We should. The only course left open is some fact-checking and independent thinking while consulting various sources and different (often antagonized) viewpoints. God knows there are enough of those. It sounds good on paper. Thing is, it requires both time and resources. So, let’s say I just finished with Fahrenheit and now I want to decide whether I’ll vote for Bush again. It would take me at least 5 years of full-time research to come up with an informed answer (if I want to be true to the scientific method of inquiry while maintaining any sort of intellectual honesty). During that time, things will happen. People who I’m judging on my own will make them happen. World will change and new questions, together with new problems, will arise. Historians have spent more than one lifetime not agreeing on any singular topic in history. Meanwhile, plutocrats both new and old have a field day. My truth-checking, eventually, will be worth nothing even if I become an expert on the topic. And it will be worth nothing because I failed to act when the opportunity presented itself. I failed to act because I couldn’t act hotheaded, driven by half-digested, possibly untrue information. If I did act, I would have become just another manipulator and propagandist which is no better than his opponents.

a911-4_smallIn that light we should look at Fahrenheit 9/11. When it does not illustrate long known truisms, it functions as a rallying call for revolutionaries in the making. Seen any relevant revolutions lately? Seen neo-liberalist machinery doing its thing as usual? As Ferengi say: “War is good for business. Peace is good for business”. While businessman like Bush do their business, affecting lives of thousands of people, thinkers think, affecting couple hundred five or more decades later. If anything, Fahrenheit 9/11 puts us in the spot where we are forced to look out our position and succumb to something like a depression. Depression not because we “failed to stop” Bush, but because we are once again put into a situation where the same movie can be made about Obama. And world keeps turning. Ignoring Michael Moore because there’s not a single reason why it should not.

Directed by Michael Moore
Produced by
Written by Michael Moore
Starring Michael Moore
Distributed by

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Napoleon Dynamite (2004)

napoleonIn recent years I’ve come to know a guy, rather peculiar and rather interesting one whom I couldn’t quite place. Whenever I met him he was always doing his best to be the soul of the party. More often than not he was succeeding – you couldn’t enter into a room without noticing either him or this peculiar voice he spoke with. He was (and still is) somewhere around seven feet tall and somewhere around 250lbs in weight. He wasn’t a model figurine that would appear in any sort of movie or any self-respecting fashion ad but he had this radiating charisma that could compete with any movie-star out there. He was drinking like a retired pirate and his lurking body overshadowed almost anyone that came to be in his presence. You could have dubbed him as ‘party animal’ and you wouldn’t be that wrong. Still, there was the other side of him. Quite, almost awkward side that played computer and board games, old school pen and paper RPGs, smoked lots of pot and did anything that could be connected to geek subculture in this way or the other. He played basketball as well which meant that he couldn’t have been cast in any high-school movie because he was just refusing to behave as a stereotype. You couldn’t place him in any predetermined role – I still have to see a movie with a jock/nerd character that isn’t treated as obscure, fascinating and quite possibly extremely dangerous endangered animal.

vlcsnap-2014-07-02-00h14m03s158Still, there was something quite strange about him and it wasn’t just this mix of activities that I was finding him in. More than anything it was his voice, or rather this manner of speech which was so alienated and so out-of-tune that you couldn’t help but think that he constantly talks in auto-ironic referential manner that is devised solely for a purpose of making fun of an entire world. It looked like an act though it really wasn’t. It may have started as such but have since become integral part of his identity, something more than a referential satire. I couldn’t understand it. I could understand his speech but I was constantly failing to grasp his cultural background. I never asked him about that, fuck it – I couldn’t have known if I was reading this right – it might have been that he didn’t have any sort of awareness of this and it would have come across as rude. So I let go, deciding that I just don’t care that much. People can do whatever they want. Especially when it concerns personas they choose to appear in.

Last night though, it all came back. I was watching Napoleon Dynamite, cult movie from early 2000’s and suddenly it all became clear. All this time he was channeling Jon Heder (or his character though this distinction doesn’t really matter), playing the part of Napoleon Dynamite in real life. Within the movie-universe Napoleon was strange, without it he was stranger. That someone chose to do this is nothing short of vindication of Hess’ brothers work. This awkward, strange kid, managed to become nothing short of a role model. There was a time when people wanted to be just like John Rambo (I knew guys who went into war in a complete Stallonian outfit), this is the time in which people want to be douchebags like Barney Stinson, or psychopaths like Walter White. Role models are a plenty and many of them are a strange lot. Amongst these, models that speak to an entire generation, to quite, intelligent people who think with their heads outside the box are hard to come by. The Dude was one of them and Napoleon Dynamite is his worthy successor. Can’t believe it took me so long to stumble upon this movie. I missed it by a decade and I feel that it would have spoken to me in a different voice back then. I lost something I never had though it could have easily been mine. I only have to figure out what exactly that is.

Directed by Jared Hess
Produced by Jeremy Coon
Chris Wyatt
Sean C. Covel
Jory Weitz
Screenplay by Jared Hess
Jerusha Hess
Based on Peluca
by Jared Hess
Starring Jon Heder
Jon Gries
Efren Ramirez
Tina Majorino
Aaron Ruell
Diedrich Bader
Haylie Duff
Music by John Swihart
Cinematography Munn Powell
Edited by Jeremy Coon
MTV Films
Napoleon Pictures

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