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Nolan's Pop Culture Review, 2006!
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Fidel Castro's Days Numbered? áby Nolan B. Canova
Fahrenheit 9/11, Revisited áby Nolan B. Canova
"Talladega Nights" áby Mike Smith
Is It Worth It? áby Mark Terry
I'm Back...."Superman Returns"....Oprah Runs The GOP....PJ "King Kong" Director's Cut áby Matt Drinnenberg
Wacky Mel....Movie Notes....The Countdown Begins....Never Heard of Him....My Favorite Films, Part 31: "The Deep" áby Mike Smith
Nolan's Pop Culture Review
Established A.D. 2000, March 19. Now in our seventh calendar year!
Number 332  (Vol. 7, No. 31). This edition is for the week of July 31--August 6, 2006.

"Fahrenheit 9/11", Revisited

By Nolan B. Canova

Recently, one of my "right-wing constituents" (slang for a particularly verbose 7-Eleven customer with strong conservative opinions, this one being the same one who brought me the news Batwoman was a lesbian) and I began talking up the old Michael Moore movie, Fahrenheit 9/11. Like most good ditto-heads, "Jim" can barely stand to even mention Moore's name, nor his movie for fear it legitimizes it, however remotely. I must say Moore has inspired a particularly vile brand of hatred among the conservative community. Jim insisted that Fahrenheit 9/11 had been discredited so thoroughly that to even still think of it as a documentary was sheer insanity for either side of the political divide.

I replied that I remembered Moore's timelines and such had been challenged, but that Jim must be exaggerating the discreditation. Walking out in a huff, he returned later with 49 pages of "factual inaccuracies" from the movie, all printed from an internet source whose reason for being was destroying Fahrenheit 9/11.

I don't have the time or the resources to challenge every item on the list, but there are a few things on the list I'd like to bring up here that beg a response.

Charge: The opening shot of Bush playing golf is misleading
During the movie's opening, the now-legendary news footage is shown of Bush playing golf, a scene that was also used to promote Fahrenheit 9/11. In the news footage, Bush, in medium close-up, is talking to reporters. "I call upon all nations to do everything they can to stop these terrorist killers." The camera pulls back to reveal that we're on a golf course and Bush is holding a club. Without missing a beat, Bush continues, "Now watch this drive!"

According to "Fahrenheit Fact" (the website in question), the major objection seems to be that the viewer is left with the misleading impression Bush is referring to Al-Qaeda terrorists, but in the original news report, he was commenting about a Palestinian suicide bomber. Ummm. OK, so? The fact remains his jovial golf demonstration went off on schedule as soon as he could get in his on-the-record two cents about terrorists out of the way.

Charge: The Oregon Trooper information is misleading
Moore interviewed two state troopers, stated as being part of Homeland Security, who were presumably guarding several hundred miles of the Oregon coast from "invaders". According to the onscreen interview, these two are the only ones assigned to patrol a huge stretch of Oregon coastline as part of Homeland Security. The objection arises when an investigation found that the two officers in question are merely state troopers and that Homeland Security has little to nothing to do with numbers and placement.

Although this was meant to discredit Moore's assertion that the two men had a direct connection to Homeland Security, what was more horrifying to me was the further discovery that, according to the chief in charge of the Troopers, there are some days when there is nobody patroling the beaches at all, and Moore was lucky to have found two working that day. It was also mentioned that the job of guarding the coast still belongs to...well, the Coast Guard! The whole point of the sequence was to demonstrate the inadequacy of the "terror alert system tool" which Moore suggested is mostly propaganda. He felt strongly enough about this to include it in the movie, but the discreditors found that Homeland Security merely makes recommendations about staffing and positions. I'm not sure who I'm supposed to be mad at here.

Charge: Moore's cut-and-past newspaper headline is outright phony
During the movie, a Bloomington, Illinois Pantagraph newspaper headline is shown in close-up that says, "LATEST FLORIDA RECOUNT SHOWS GORE WON ELECTION". It is dated December 17th, 2000. When the editors tried to find that edition of the paper, they discovered that that headline did not exist on that date, as it was actually from the December 5th edition. Further, that the text underneath it (in the version from the movie) was not from any front page of the Panatgraph, but was a letter to the editor enlarged and "pasted" under the actual headline, re-dated, and finessed to look like a real newspaper.

OK, for a movie purporting to be a documentary, I'll admit Moore's sin was to, once again, stretch artistic license to the point of undermining his objective (I say "once again" because Bowling for Columbine is usually attacked for the same reason). In my humble opinion, he was going for a visceral visual to underscore something that really did happen, e.g., Gore won some Florida recounts, to illustrate the bigger picture, i.e., that Gore won the popular vote.

And so it goes. Critics are bothered by Moore's legalistic interpretation that Hussein never "murdered" any Americans (simply "killed" doesn't count as it implies accident statistics are mixed up in there), that "the White House" cleared the bin Laden family's plane flight out of America following 9/11 (implying it was Bush, in reality it never got any higher than James Clark -- but that's still the White House -- is that supposed to clear everybody?), that recounts in Florida from 2000 still show Bush as the winner (re: the butterfly ballot brigade, yeah maybe, yet the infamous "disenfranchised" blacks are undervalued in the dissertation), and perhaps most divisively, how much of the public is against the war and how many of the soldiers are pro-Bush (actually even these numbers have changed since the movie came out---and not in Bush's favor).

Moore's next movie Sicko deals with the health care industry, particularly HMOs. I will be attending that, but I'll also be curious if he adapts different movie-making techniques to bolster his credibility while disarming his critics.

"Fahrenheit 9/11, Revisited" is ©2006; by Nolan B. Canova

All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ę2006 by Nolan B. Canova.

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