June 28, 2004

F 9/11 Tops Box Office, Ticks People Off

I bet the person who wrote this article is feeling silly today:

...Because it will debut in far fewer theaters than a major motion picture, which can be released in over 3,000, “Fahrenheit 9/11” will likely not open as No. 1 on box-office charts despite the intense interest and controversy the film has generated. ...

Here are this weekend's final totals as reported in the BBC:

Michael Moore's controversial film Fahrenheit 9/11 has become the first documentary to top the US box office chart in its opening weekend.

The film, which attacks President George Bush's policy on Iraq, took $21.8m (£11.9m) in its first three days, according to studio estimates. ...

But in another BBC article summarizing the reviews, there was this:

...MTV's Gideon Yago says, "Overheated, Overstated ... And Great".

But despite a largely positive review, Mr Yago says that "while Moore makes a persuasive argument, it is an imperfect one."

He criticises the filmmaker for painting an overly rosy picture of pre-war Iraq and painting American soldiers "either as videogame-loving baby killers or working-class martyrs".

"At times Moore relies on Leni Riefenstahl-style sensationalism, rolling footage of a wounded Iraqi child undergoing a head operation as Donald Rumsfeld speaks about precision warfare," he says. ...

The MTV 'news' guy is comparing Moore to Riefenstahl? That's as disturbing in its way as the time I recently tuned in to a local Christian music channel to hear the tail end of a justification for war in times of unjust peace, and an exhortation to support the troops and the policies that put them in Iraq. But Newsweek's David Gates isn't far ahead of Yago:

...True, Fox TV posted a rave review on its Web site—"a tribute to patriotism"—while Tina Brown's column quoted a Kerry supporter in Hollywood comparing Moore to Goebbels. (That Goebbels? And they say Moore is over the top.)

He mentions Fox, without noting the O'Reilly comparison of Moore to Goebbels, and instead has to mention someone who dug up a 'Kerry supporter' for the task. But the pain continues directly, emphasis mine:

But mostly it has been the usual suspects taking the usual sides. For the right, "Fahrenheit 9/11" is a scurrilous attack on the commander in chief in a time of war. For the left, on the other hand, "Fahrenheit 9/11" is a scurrilous attack on the commander in chief in a time of war—and it was about time, though no prudent mainstream Democrat would want to come out and say so. For everybody else ... well, is there anybody else?...

I can't think of a response to that last comment that excludes the phrase, 'you ignorant slut.' As Jon Stewart said in his King appearance, even graphs have y axes. But I suppose Gates must be given credit for noticing this:

...Disney head Michael Eisner refused to release it, citing Disney's tradition as a "nonpartisan company"—you know, the sort of nonpartisan company whose ABC Radio division gives a forum to Rush Limbaugh. ...

And Joe Scarborough weighs in, complaining about what he considered the two biggest lies of the movie. (Yes Joe, Gore really, really won the Florida vote.) The very frustrating thing is the assertion that Richard Clarke was solely responsible for letting the Bin Ladens and other Saudis out of the country. Let's go over this slowly.

Richard Clarke did not wake up on the morning of September 13th and say to himself, 'You know, I think I'll organize the exodus of any Bin Laden family members still in the U.S.' Prince Bandar made the request to some other member of the Bush administration, possibly to Bush himself, they were close enough. This request was brought by some unknown party to Richard Clarke, who then said that the FBI had to clear it, probably on the reasonable premise that law enforcement should get to make this decision. The FBI cleared it, which sane human beings should find mildly odd, and on that basis Clarke approved a request which originated from elsewhere and was approved by the FBI.

Finally, if you're still following along, this movie opened up fresh grievances for me. First, consider Senators Lieberman, Kerry, Edwards, Kennedy, Cantwell, Murray, Boxer, and Feinstein. Lieberman was on the ticket with Gore. Kerry and Kennedy come from a state where around 80% of voters are registered Democrats. Cantwell and Murray are from Washington, which has become a home to some extremely liberal Congresscritters. Boxer and Feinstein are from California, land of the (mostly) yellow dog Democrats. They, like many other Democratic Senators are in seats from which a career of Thurmond-like staying power could be achieved with skill and persistence. All of the Senators who ran for president this year, including Edwards, could be heard on C-SPAN at the Florida convention railing about the theft of the 2000 election.

None of them signed the objections of several members of the Congressional Black Caucus so that they could be officially entered into the record. Gore had to tell them to sit down because no member of the Senate, including his 'what, no courtesy call' running mate, would stand up to let them be heard. Not even, and I know this will irritate a lot of people, the late, great, Senator Wellstone.

They didn't sign, nor did the public press them to. Maybe, and from what I remember this was my response in 2000, they spent the days after the election unable to believe what was happening. It could be that they've figured out that a) they damn well better start believing what they see, and b) have learned from the ultimate object lesson in what happens when you don't stick together.

If they have not learned these lessons, it's up to the public to institute a re-education program for wayward legislators. The program will begin with that classic premise of dog training that a dog is only as well-behaved and consistent as its owner.

I'll be grumbling when I vote for them this November, but a Senator is only as brave as their constituents. In 2000, it never occurred to me once to call and ask my (all Democratic) representatives why they weren't supporting Gore. This movie isn't just about what happens when legislators fail, but when public involvement fails. When my backbone has been lacking, my fact-finding lazy, or my willingness to stand up and be heard by our representatives lost in apathy.

It isn't just up to them to insist that they read the bills they pass. It isn't just up to them to see to it that the poorest people in our country aren't asked to sacrifice the most for it. It's up to the public to know that these things are going on, and relentlessly demand that something be done to correct the situation.

Power abhors a vacuum.

Posted by natasha at June 28, 2004 08:54 AM | Entertainment | Technorati links |

Juan Cole discusses F911 this morning. He almost defends the Saudi's against Moore's criticism.

I thought the bit connecting Bush to the Saudis was full of illogic. Wealthy people in the oil business are going to have relations with the Saudis, who at their best rates can produce 11 million of the 76 million barrels of oil pumped daily in the world. The Saudis can also get along with pumping 7 million barrels a day, so they are a pivotal swing producer and can affect the price deeply.
The Saudi bashing in the Moore film makes no sense. It is true that some of the hijackers were Saudis, but that is only because Bin Laden hand-picked some Saudi muscle at the last minute to help the brains of the operation, who were Egyptians, Lebanese, Yemenis, etc. Bin Laden did that deliberately, in hopes of souring US/Saudi relations so that he could the better overthrow the Saudi government.

Posted by: Ron In Portland at June 28, 2004 04:02 PM

I read somewhere that Gore asked the Senators to NOT interfer with the certification of the vote.

I wonder if Gore kicks himself when he sees what the cabal has done and knows that he could have prevented this disaster by contesting the results.

Posted by: Mary at June 29, 2004 06:51 AM