Moore’s Movie

I have been looking forward to seeing MM’s latest work.

MM?  Why, MIchael Moore, of course.  The man who produced two of the highest grossing documentaries of all times–Fahrenheit 9/11 (a president cementing his powers by sending poor kids to be shot at) and Sicko (a government leaving ill citizens at the mercy of profiteering mega-corps.)

So I was really sad to see–just a few days before Fahrenheit 11/9 opened in theaters–that Sean McBride, the “movie guy” for the Idaho Press, was less than enthusiastic.  “[Moore] presents so many scattershot ideas in this movie that it doesn’t have the focus needed to truly encourage long-lasting action.”

Hey, Sean, you’re talking about the documentary that kicked off the Toronto Film Festival. The one festival director Thom Powers found promised laughs and then delivered “thoughtful, impassioned analysis.”

And what you call “scattershot,” other reviewers consider “wide-ranging.”

And I’ve got a personal letter–well, an email–from MM promising that this film will not only explain how we “ended up with Trump, but also show us the way out.”

“It’s a story about hope…and what comes after it.”

Okay, Sean, I admit that MM does some childish things and, worse, returns to tearfully sentimental scenes three times to make sure that no skull is too thick to know this is a tearfully sentimental scene.

But a film that promises not only to “show us the way out” of a bad situation, but inject enough hope to move people to action deserves to be seen by everyone, not just the most left-wing of liberals.

This was my thinking before I saw the film.

Some scenes did live up to expectations by encouraging hope and action.

In January 2017, four to five million people called for women’s and workers’ rights, immigration reform, and racial equality in Women’s Marches all over the U.S. and the world.

In February 2018 West Virginia teachers’ protested a raise of only 4% spread over the next three years.  A strike started in one district and spread quickly, leaving go-along to get-long union leaders struggling–and failing–to get out in the front of the protest. Soon teachers struck in Oklahoma, Colorado and Arizona also.  Legislatures in all four states met major demands.

And, after a former student killed 17 students and staff members, students at Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida organized The March for Our Lives–and students in 800 locations around the world joined in.

I’d seen accounts of all three events before, but those involved–caring, working together, making a difference–seem more real and alive on the big screen.

Unfortunately, parts of 11/9 struck me as deceptive.

Moore points out that 60 million Americans voted for Trump, and then shows mainly snarling racists. I may not understand Trump-supporters, but I do share hugs with many who are good people.

Fahrenheit 11/9’s depiction of Trump’s words coming from Hitler’s mouth overshadows Moore’s supposed point that we are all contributing to the death of democracy.

And Moore’s lengthy story of Flint’s water problem–aimed at showing Obama was as bad as those seeking to line Republican pockets–left out two important facts.  Once the acidic water of Flint River sped the erosion of 1910-vintage piping, nothing short of changing the pipes would cut the water’s lead content. And President Obama was successful in getting a $150 million appropriated to help replace the pipes.

I won’t say the film isn’t worth the price of a ticket–but it should have been so much more.

Note this editorial by Judy Ferro published by Idaho Press – 2018