been a wonderful confluence of events: the celebration of
Independence Day, the first block- busting week of Fahrenheit
9/11, the transfer of power in Iraq and John Kerry juicing
up his campaign with John Edwards.
one on the heels of another, itís hard to know what to expect
Iím not sure I recognize this in myself as it applies to politics,
I think Iím feeling something like hope.
Thomas Jefferson, whose face graces the cover of the July
5 issue of Time magazine. As a student at the University
of Virginia, one of Mr. Jeffersonís (as he is called there)
many achievements, I was surrounded by the lore and adulation
of his legacy.
overshadowed the man. And so the other day when I read the
Declaration of Independence thoroughly for the first time
since high school, I was struck by the compassion and wisdom
of his words.
really call Fahrenheit 9/11 a compassionate movie.
It starts out as a blistering compilation of George Bushís
misdeeds and misalliances. Itís funny in the way only real
life can be: wryly and sadly. Itís if-I-donít-laugh-Iíll-cry
midway through it, the filmís tone changes. The laughter dies
down. The images become harder to take. A narrative develops
chronicling one womanís struggle with loyalty, disillusionment
and loss. The filmís argument seems less polemical and more
solution-oriented: These are the facts; now what can we do
for being mild-mannered, Michael Moore posted a response on
his Web site, michaelmoore.com, alerting readers to the filmís
to his posting more people saw the movie in one weekend than
saw Bowling for Columbine in nine months; the film
broke Rocky IIIís record for the biggest box-office
opening weekend for any film screened in fewer than a thousand
theaters; and it beat the opening weekend of Return of
posting he goes on to say that that NASCAR champ Dale Earnhardt
Jr. took his crew to see Fahrenheit 9/11 as a bonding
experience because, ďItís a good thing as an American to go
it was the reactions and reports we received from theaters
around the country that really sent me over the edge. One
theatre manager after another phoned in to say that the
movie was getting standing ovations as the credits rolledóin
places like Greensboro, NC and Oklahoma Cityóand that they
were having a hard time clearing the theater afterwards
because people were either too stunned or they wanted to
sit and talk to their neighbors about what they had just
seen. . . . A man in San Francisco took his shoe off and
threw it at the screen when Bush appeared at the end. Ladiesí
church groups in Tulsa were going to see it, and weeping
Theaters in the Deep South and the Midwest set house records
for any film theyíd ever shown. Yes, it even sold out in
Peoria. And Lubbock, Texas. And Anchorage, Alaska!
easy to dismiss Michael Moore as a megalomaniac or a polemicist.
One review I read referred to him as someone who didnít seek
positive change, preferring instead to carp about the negativity
of the status quo.
not convinced that tells the whole story. Weíre used to being
suspicious of eccentrics. Thatís part of the reason why our
presidential candidates end up being so bland: Bland is safe,
easy to believe in.
Moore is not bland, but that doesnít mean that he is not sincere.
That does not mean that he hasnít amassed a compelling record
of facts and presented them in a manner accessible to even
the most dunderheaded of Americans.
playing to the masses? Is that populist pap? Is it propagandist?
Maybe so. But there is a long tradition of such things in
this country. Think Thomas Paine and Common Sense.
Hereís just a taste of that 1776 document speaking out against
reconciliation with Britain:
Though I would carefully avoid giving unnecessary offence,
yet I am inclined to believe, that all those who espouse
the doctrine of reconciliation, may be included within the
following descriptions. Interested men, who are not to be
trusted; weak men who cannot see; prejudiced men who will
not see; and a certain set of moderate men, who think better
of the European world than it deserves; and this last class
by an ill-judged deliberation, will be the cause of more
calamities to this continent than all the other three.
Fahrenheit 9/11 at a theater on Route 30 heading out
into the small towns north of Amsterdam. I wasnít expecting
Bush-bashing to score any points out there. But I was wrong.
Comments percolated throughout the theater. Audience members
applauded at the end of the movie. I strolled into the balmy
night with people of assorted ages, but probably from a similar
economic bracket. I got the feeling Michael Moore would be
welcomed in Amsterdam.
ways Fahrenheit 9/11 follows the core advice that defines
our common national identity: to recognize when leadership
is being abused and to claim the right to bring about change:
Governments long established should not be changed for light
and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath
shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils
are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the
forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train
of abuses and usurpations, perusing invariably the same
Object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism,
it is their right, it is their duty to throw off such Government
and to provide new Guards for their future security.
Jefferson, The Declaration of Independence
contact Jo Page at email@example.com