Perception Is Reality

A (Quick) Critical Analysis of Fahrenheit 9/11

Posted on: September 11, 2007

Hello there!

 I have a course which goes by the name Film, Television and Society. Today was the first day and we watched Fahrenheit 9/11. Now, I’ll be honest here, I have not seen the movie before (partly because of the bad prints). However, I got into watching the movie today and so here’s my two cents:

The movie follows the basic fundamentals of a documentary: Voice-over narration, archival footage, factual and historical events. However, I think we all would agree that the minute we point a camera at something, the minute we cut the film or set the lighting, we are effectively causing imbalance in what is perhaps one of the greater (if not Fahrenheit 9/11greatest) fallacies in motion film, which is, destroying the balance a documentary film is supposed to have. It starts out with facts and figures and continues to throw in random bits of information.

However, it skews reality: For one, it is completely one sided, that is, dislike or disapproval for the current president of the United States, George W. Bush. Alot of sarcastic comments thrown in here and there, along with overly dramatic background music makes one realize that this film is more of a Mockumentary. For instance, when the film talks about the votes in the state of Florida and who is going to take it away (George W. Bush, or Al Gore), there is some sort of hillbilly music playing in the background, sort of signifying the music you would here, perhaps in a pig-fighting contest.

Another thing to note is how the cuts between scenes are supposed to be sarcastic and hillarious: The cut from where the mother is crying about her son being dead in the war to a scene of perhaps Michael Moore interviewing Britney Spears (who at the time must have been roughly 16, but I could be wrong).

The last thing that I noted was how, perhaps, Michael Moore must have been in the game as much for the money as he was in for showing his blatant disapproval of George W. Bush. Note how Michael Moore talks about his home town and how it is a shabby place. One of the people interviewed mentioned that his hometown looked like Iraq amidst war. Coming from a town where most houses lack windows, and sometimes boarded up entrances, Michael Moore must have been looking for his big hit. Perhaps one of the reasons his film was a blockbuster must have indirectly stemmed from this desire to make some ‘moolah’.

I guess, as a film maker, you can (almost) never be balanced. We’re all human after all, and we are entitled to our opinion and – in some cases – impress it upon others. Ofcourse, individual style also makes a film a hit as we have seen in Fahrenheit 9/11, but we need to ask ourselves as technical artists: is this film remotely fair or does the scale lean completely to one side?

Happy Blogging!


6 Responses to "A (Quick) Critical Analysis of Fahrenheit 9/11"

The brief critic of Michael Moore’s 9/11 is with out a doubt accurate in the sense that it is one-sided. However, the strategic manipulations Moore uses is all too familiar, it is the same strategies the U.S government as well as others abroad have been using for decades in attempt to manipulate their citizens in adopting right wing beliefs and policies. The way I see it, Moore is using the same technics the average citizens have grown to become susceptable to. It is no secret that the CNN news agency is just another branch of government, it has been using the same bias camera tricks for years to prep right wing policies. Now that the bias strategies have recently been used to advocate left wing beliefs such as Fahrenheit 9/11 people are beginning to pick apart the mockumentary and labell Michael Moore as a manipulating liar. So, in terms of politics has the average citizen become accustomed to coupling camera tricks with right wing advocacy? the reason I ask is because as soon as we see the other side of the spectrum using the same tools, that is when people begin to claim fabrications such as Fahrenheit 9/11. As far as Im concerned I think left wing propaganda is a good thing in this day and age because right wing advocates have the average citizen by the ears and eyes ie. media and by increasing this type of left wing propaganda it is going to even out the playing field and give left wing advocates the same opportunities as the right. Whatever sound effects or impressions Michael Moore gives in his mockumentaries he makes it evident that he is just having fun with it but when the other side does it they incorporate their messeges in news agencies and newspapers, these are resources that people put their trust in and assume objectivity. So are we pointing fingers and criticizing the wrong person?

Excuse me, but I can’t help but to answer your question. No. We are not pointing fingers at the wrong guy by criticizing Moore’s one-sided mo-/documentaries.

The essence of what you’re saying here, is basically that what Michael Moore does is completely okay, if not actually good, because the other side, the right wing advocates, do things the same way. The problem with that is that you can’t justify one person’s wrong doings, by comparing them to those of another. That simply won’t work. It won’t “even out the playing field” as you say. What it does is creating two sides, each fighter with whatever manipulative means presumably you, as well as many others, wish to avoid.

If he is right about his points in this film, then he is giving himself a huge disadvantage by being as manipulative as he is. Yes, his methods will definitely -and already has- create tons of people who follow believe in his points. The problem about that though, is that the same kind of people who buy into Moore’s films, probably are the same kind of people who would buy into films in favor of the right wing, because what really gets their attention is not the truth or the right points of view in his films, it’s the methods he uses to get them out there, the same methods that make his films useless to someone, with the right critical ability to look for relevant and useful information, who would actually use it -it simply lacks too much of that for them to do so.

So from that I would say no. It’s not wrong to criticize Moore’s Methods, since they’re bad methods in a documentary, no matter what points you inevitably tries to get out there. The whole point of making a documentary is to keep it as fair and objective as possible, in order to pass the best judgement as possible. It’s roughly the idea behind the scientific method which works (at least around this scale).

When all this is said, I will not say whether or not I believe in his points in this movie. -Now that doesn’t mean that I’m a “right wing advocate”, it just means that I find his methods too, call it manipulative if you will, to base a fair judgement on. I will however, say that if he is spot on, then it’s a shame how he chooses to present himself.

And BTW, I don’t exactly expect any reply. I just feel it’s important, at least for me, to get this out here for anyone who might want to read through all this.

As far as I go, Masoud, I would have to agree with you completely. The idea of the leftist levelling out the playing field is only fair. I don’t mean to criticize Michael Moore, as far as subjectivity is concerned, however, I was pointing at the “definition” of the term. I’m surprised when I get people telling me I am wrong, however, I don’t think any differently, but when I write, I tend to be objective. But thank you very very much for your comment, it is very much appreciated 🙂

Hi Magnus,

Thanks for your well thought out comments and engagement with Masoud and I. I do understand your point and it’s legitimate. Thank you for adding value to the conversation 🙂

i think in this day and age when a huge proportion of information, “facts” we get from the media is one sided and tends to be right wing well it makes sense that all a left wing director is doing is trying to get another point across and well done to him.

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Born in Karachi, Pakistan in an Adventist hospital, I grew up in a city where on one side I experienced poverty and oppression, while on the other I had the good fortune of Tabish Bhimani being a member of an upper middle-class business family...more...

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