Torture for politics and profit

By Barbara Simpson

She didn’t twist my arm, but Mom convinced me to see Michael Moore’s new movie.

I’d told her there was no way I’d spend my hard-earned money on his propaganda!

Mom – a dyed-in-the-wool FDR Democrat – knows my politics. When she learned I’d not seen the movie, she had a cause: get me to attend with her and a crowd of her Democrat club buddies. In fact, her local theatre booked the movie because Mom touted it to them.

She tempted me with a pair of unused movie passes. Done!

Off we went, joined by her Dem friends, who clearly expected what “Fahrenheit 9-11” does: demean, ridicule and slam President Bush and his administration. Their reactions reflected that. They muttered agreement with Moore’s inferences: “that’s terrible,” “I didn’t know that,” “hmmph,” “of course,” “oh-h-h-,” “isn’t that the truth.”

Well, no. It isn’t the truth and that’s the problem.

It’s astonishing the movie passes as a documentary. Moore wants President Bush out of office. The movie is his contribution to that campaign. But that’s the only thing about it that’s a “contribution.” The rest is pure American capitalism: profit.

Big profits roll in – $113 million gross already, the run isn’t over and they haven’t even released the DVD! Chubby-bubby is doing very well indeed for a “man of the people.” Maybe someday he’ll present himself in public as the rich, Hollywood elite he is.

By “elite,” I don’t mean someone well educated or cultured, but merely someone who thinks they are because they’ve made a pot of money in the world of make-believe. The movie is pure make-believe and Michael Moore does think he’s special.

What did I feel when it was over? Tired bottom, boredom and simmering rage.

It was to-o-o-o-o-o-o long – a real documentary makes its’ point concisely. This doesn’t. I clock-watched, wondering when it would end! I can’t remember when I last did that, even during a bomb. No wonder I tired of sitting.

Help! I get your point!

Moore makes his point early and the rest is pounding repetition.

Boring repetition. Dare I say it: repetitive repetition? Talk about redundancy. Talk about torture. It’s the same tactic used on prisoners to break them: constant, loud, jarring music.

Aren’t there Geneva Convention rules about this?

Enough! We know you don’t like Bush.

We also know you edit and script to illustrate your view, but not the truth.

Any “truth” in this film is hard to find. It swerves from outright lies, to lies by innuendo, to lies by inference, to lies by omission, to lies by editing, to lies by inflection. There’s a lot of lying going on, but Moore – while clearly not a truth-teller – is very good at propaganda. He has one goal. He wants Bush out and every frame aims at that.

He’s no fool. People believe what they see on a screen. It’s the old idea of not believing unless it’s in the newspaper. Now we use moving pictures in living color with crafty writing and editing to lead viewers to the desired conclusion. Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels would be proud.

Because the movie is presented as “truth,” and because the average person is woefully ignorant of current affairs, much less history, it’s a crafty sabotage of the president and the war against terrorism.

But a more insidious aspect of the movie is that it will be used in schools. Given the liberal teachers on all levels of education, it’s certain “Fahrenheit 9-11” will be used in political-science /social-studies classes and not in classes about media propaganda techniques where it belongs.

I wonder if they’ll tell students that Moore ripped off his title from the classic Ray Bradbury book, “Fahrenheit 451,” and ignored overtures from Mr. Bradbury to talk about the theft of his title. In fact, Ray Bradbury told me he wanted an apology from Moore. He was ignored.

So much for Moore being cultured, or polite, or law-abiding. Theft is theft and stealing intellectual property ranks among the worst of offenses.

As for students who pay tuition to be propagandized – they’d be better served reading Bradbury’s book for a chilling and engrossing look at mind-control and propaganda.

The movie left me angered because of its blatant manipulation of emotions. Viewers are subjected to scenes of a bright, happy Baghdad with children laughing and flying kites – with no view of real life under Saddam.

We’re treated to close-ups of war injuries and maiming but we are not allowed to see the carnage on the real 9-11, the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center.

For that, Moore uses sound and a black screen. Effective technique, but is there any doubt Moore knew that showing Americans jumping from the towers – or in pieces on the ground – might leave viewers with a less than sympathetic view of Muslim terrorists and more positive view of our war president?

I can only hope people will understand what’s being done to them and resist it. Propaganda from any side is reprehensible – liberals and conservatives both should resist it.