Wednesday, September 22, 2004

International Socialist Review : The Fahrenheit Phemomenon

By Nicole Carson

Since it premiered in late June, Michael Moore's documentary Fahrenehit 9/11 has grossed more than $110 million domestically. It is teh first documentary ever to debut at number one in the U.S., and broke the record for the biggest box office opening weekend for any film (non-documentaries included) opening in fewer than one thousand theatres.

According to a Gallup survey conducted two weeks after the film's opening, 8 percent of american adults had seen the film - and 18 percent said they planned to see it at a theatre. Another 30 percent planned to see it on video. And for those who argued that the film was playing only to the already converted, more than one-third of republicans and nearly two-thirds of indepnedents told Gallup the had seen or expected to see the film at theatres or on video.

This has happened in the midst of a right-wing campaign calculated to discredit moore and his film,. First, the disney corporation refused to distribute the film because, according to CEO Michael Eisner, Disney shareholders and customers did not want to be associated with a "partisan" company. The Federal Election commission, at the prompting of the conservative group citizens United, contemplated censoring ads for the film on the grounds that they were election propaganda for the Democratic Party.

The White HOuse jumped onto the Moore-bashing bandwagon as well. "i can speak for myself and I can speak for the President, and I can assure you that neither of us have seen [the film]," sniffed White HOuse Communications Director Dan Bartlett in June. "We don't have a lot of free time these days and when we do have free time to see a good fiction movie, we'll pick 'Shrek' or some other enjoy[able] feature like that....[Moore's] outside of the mainstream....This is a film that doesn't require us to actually view it to know that it's filled with factual inaccuracies."

"That is not staged"

It's not hard to understand why Fahreneheit 9/11 would have such an impact. In addition to Moore's own skills as a humorist and muckraking filmmaker taking on the powerful, Fahrenheit 9/11 debuted at a time when the faltering U.S. occupation of iraq and continued revelations of administration lies about "weapons of mass desctuction" and Iraqi prisoner abuse were bringing more and more people to question the case for war.

Moore shows just how arrogant, absurd, adn worthy of ridicule our so-called leaders really are. More that humor, however, the film provides a much-needed outlet for the anger and confusion felt by the millions who opposed the war from the beginning. But it also has played to people who may have supported the war at its beginning, but have come to question it as the U.S. death toll has risen and the brutality of the occupation and prisoner abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib have been revealed.

(click on the title for the whole article)

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