July 03, 2004

Fahrenheit 9/11.

I usually don't "get political" on here, as we usually do that on Blog Collective. So forgive me. I saw Fahrenheit 9/11 today. I was not in the mood to watch it, since I had one of those headaches you get from sleeping too late, and I really wanted to go outside today. However, we were going to get (and indeed did get) violent storms today, and my wife really wanted to see it. So to the flick I went. You know, a lot of people are calling this film a piece of propaganda. I think that's inaccurate. I think that what critics mean to say is that Michael Moore is a liar (which I don't really believe), and they don't know the proper meaning of the word propaganda. Propaganda, in their eyes, involves deliberate deception, whether that is in the form of outright lying, spinning or omitting the truth or what have you. There is a fine line between presenting the truth in a biased manner (what propaganda essentially is) and their idea of propaganda, and I don't think that Michael Moore crossed that line more than any news outlet which only shows us half of the truth and such anyway. If Fahrenheit 9/11 is propaganda, so is the damned "Today Show." There is nothing terribly wrong with propaganda always, and one might say that anyone who puts forth his or her views cannot help putting a slant on them. Then we're all guilty of propaganda, aren't we? Maybe I'm wrong or crazy. Or, god forbid, biased. Besides, I don't think critics are giving Moore enough credit for his fairness. When he showed something that the American media censored, he rarely called attention to it. He never mentioned Tony Blair by name, and Prime Minister Blair was only in the background of shots twice. He never actually says anything negative about Bush or anyone else, for that matter. He lets them embarrass themselves. He states facts about the actions of the Bush administration without really judging them at the same time outloud. He doesn't have to. If one is worried about unfairness, and one has not seen this film, one should shut up promptly and not criticize it. I think it is the most emotionally trying documentary in the history of film-making. And it has little to do with Michael Moore's orchestration, i.e., music, voice-overs, etc. It is upsetting because of what happened. The charred bodies of American soldiers being dragged through the streets and hung on posts are what is disturbing, not Michael Moore's film-making. The people weeping in theaters are not weeping because of Michael Moore. Men younger than I am are dying and many more are suffering. When the gloss of the big media goes away, we see that what is going on is terrible and grossly unnecessary. Indeed, the sickest thing about this is that it is entirely unjustified. Even if Moore's suspicions are true, and this is all about money and power, neither of those hollow things are worth human lives and human pain. The ever-wise Max Scheler says that sacrifice is the act of giving up something for a higher value (since he thinks values are phenomenologically given, prior to all cognition, as higher or lower than other values). Sacrifice is a word used a lot in Fahrenheit 9/11. I think Michael Moore is on the right track, but he didn't come out and say it: our troops are dying for nothing. They are not sacrificing their lives for anything, since what they are dying for -- money, power, or utter foolishness -- is unquestionably lower than their own immeasurable value as human persons. Each and every one of the noble people over there are worth more than all of the Bush family's and Saudi Arabia's money -- each person alone. Throwing away life for anything that serves life (which money and power do) goes against all human reason and feeling and goodness and enters the realm of evil. Am I saying that the Bush administration is evil? Yes, I am. Lying that causes death is evil, especially when the consequences of such lying are clearly foreseeable. The war machine has thrown away American and Iraqi lives for nothing that is a higher value than those lives. It's backwards. And we are all fools if we sit back and let this keep happening. Just because the thought that innocent people are dying for nothing is a terrible thought to stomach doesn't make it untrue. If that were my brother, I would have a hard time dealing with the idea that he didn't sacrifice himself for a greater good but that some businessmen-turned-politicians threw his life away and didn't even give him a choice in the matter. That is without question. But no amount of pain can make something untrue or make something go away, as if it never happened. But action can. I didn't vote in the last election. I was a senior in college and was studying some peace studies, and I didn't want to take part in the government, for my own stupid reasons. Luckily, Maryland always votes Democratically in the Presidential elections. This year, I thought about sending in my absentee ballot to Maryland. Who wants jury duty, right? But I'm going to vote in Illinois anyway. I hear that Illinois can go either way in Presidential elections, and I need to do my part for my country by getting rid of Bush. The biggest reason I want to vote here, though, is for the pleasure I will get when I leave my polling place having voted against that bastard. Michael Moore is certainly doing his part to enlighten people. My brother who is in the United States military (and I am, and will always be, proud of him) was a Bush supporter. Hell, when he told me last weekend that he was going to see Fahrenheit 9/11, I thought he was joking with me, since no one in my family really agrees with me on most political matters. However, I spoke with him for a long time yesterday, and he told me that he did really see it. And he is not voting for Bush now. Way to go, Michael!


bodhi said...

From dictionary.com, a reasonably accurate and popular source for online definitions:

(prop·a·gan·da) n.
1. The systematic propagation of a doctrine or cause or of information reflecting the views and interests of those advocating such a doctrine or cause.
2. Material disseminated by the advocates or opponents of a doctrine or cause: wartime propaganda.
3. Propaganda Roman Catholic Church. A division of the Roman Curia that has authority in the matter of preaching the gospel, of establishing the Church in non-Christian countries, and of administering Church missions in territories where there is no properly organized hierarchy.

I just thought it should be noted that propaganda doesn't necessarily entail "deliberate deception", but rather it boils down to "disseminating information either supporting the cause in which you believe or detracting from the cause to which you are opposed."

Don't get me wrong, though. I can't wait to see that movie and I'm sure that it does present a really great message. I've definitely enjoyed his previous films, and though I find myself uncomfortable with some of his more immature techniques, I can't deny that he's getting results where other people (using more mature channels) have failed.

God bless our ability to question authority, oppose tyrrany, and our constitutionally protected right to speak about it publically. =)

Pragmatik said...

Thanks for your comments. I didn't mean to use a dictionary definition of "propaganda" entirely. I mean that perhaps some critics accuse someone of propagandizing when they really mean that the person(s) they are criticizing is(are) lying.
Your definition is correct, to be sure.