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The Passion of the Moore

2004-06-28 - 1:19 p.m.

Warning: Contains Fahrenheit 9/11 spoilers.

In case you haven't noticed, I have a tendency to rant, and truth be told I am tired of ranting about the war. It might have something to do with the fact that I have a friend over there right now and I think about him in the middle of a desert when he should be in the middle of a bar that has Guinness on special every time I think about the war. It might just be that if you yell enough you get hoarse, and bored. It might be that I feel like I'm preaching to the choir, that no one who reads this thinks the war was a good idea at the time, or ever. If you've managed to enjoy my diary so far and are a Bush supporter, I'm impressed by your open mindedness, if not by your political choices.

Fortunately, every time I go off from now on I can just stop myself and say, "Y'know, just go see Fahrenheit 9/11. You'll see what I mean."

Now, I agree with a number of the critics of the film. It is flawed, and often overdone. Moore goes for bratty snarkiness when he could just let the story tell itself and make a stronger point. It probably didn't deserve the Palm D'Or, as it certainly is no match for other winners like Pulp Fiction and Dancer in the Dark in terms of storytelling and contribution to the art of filmmaking. Bowling for Columbine and Roger and Me were far superior works by Moore himself, and, come to think of it, the movie doesn't really tell liberals anything that we didn't already know.

The movie is, however, utterly fearless.

Right now, conservatives are taking the film to task over Moore's claims about the illegitimacy of this war. They are already arguing that Moore makes inaccurate, even seditious claims about the connections between Bush and the Bin Laden family, not to mention the questionable motivations for invading not only Iraq but Afghanistan. Well, this is not surprising. Hell, I was there with plenty of cries of "mind your own business" when Clinton was being investigated about a blowjob or two. Granted, Clinton's lies did not result in the death of hundreds of Americans and thousands of Iraqis, but I suppose, on some level, the principle is the same. You defend the people you want to see in office, regardless of their competence or the loss of human life. I'll let God judge the Limbaughs and Coulters and Hannitys and all those other subhumans, and trust that he has something interesting cooked up for them.

You know, if Heaven is a lie constructed to appease the proletariat, maybe Hell is a lie constructed to appease the revolutionary. Who knows?

Anyway, I'm not going to defend Moore's assertions, because Moore does so himself on his website ( Truth be told, I don't care. If anything, the evidence of corruption in the Bush administration just makes me wonder if the whole crusade isn't futile, if the machine is so efficient and so ruthless as to be unstoppable. At least if the conservatives are right then there's a soul to appeal to somewhere in the White House.

No, I don't need to have the illegitimacy of this war's foundation proven to me, because there is enough incompetence, cruelty, barbarism, and tragedy in the execution of it to keep me ranting for the rest of my life, and I say tragedy because hubris is definitely involved here. I've already seen the before and after pictures online, the shots of Iraqi families celebrating weddings and birthdays and children playing in the streets in the weeks before our invasion, and the bodies ripped apart and children screaming in pain and mothers and father and grandparents screaming in an agony so primal and universal as to defy language. I didn't need to have more images of toddlers in pieces or grandmothers screaming in a fury that could stop a tank burned into my brain. I'm glad I did, though. I think it is vital that we remember these images, not just for the next time that we're thinking about marching off to war, but for when the fathers and sons and brothers of the dead stop crying out for justice and start acting out their revenge. I'm going to stop before I go off on another rant and say that it is a good idea to bring kleenex to the theater when you see this movie.

Now, it is not enough that we who fight the good fight for truth, justice, and the American way go see this movie. We have to take the fence-sitters to see this movie. We need to find people who still believe that this war was a good idea and buy them tickets. We need to take anyone who thinks that this will not produce more terrorism and give them a large bucket of popcorn, keeping an empty bucket handy for when they see the broken children and need to be sick. If we take enough people, and not ask them to believe that Bush lied or knew about hings beforehand, but ask them instead to see what this is costing, then maybe we can put someone in office who is committed to never letting something like this happen again, and who is willing to do anything to make the Iraqi people understand that this was the result of the policies of the few, the rich people who are always willing to sacrifice the poor for an extra quarter, and that America is full of good and noble people.

My most powerful scene in the movie (and feel free to stop reading now and go see the film), though, doesn't take place in Iraq. Moore follows a mother who has lost her son in the war, and who has now come to understand that he had been sent to his death needlessly. She is standing in front of the White House, commiserating with an Iraqi woman who is sitting at a booth with pictures of the horrors of the war. Another woman passes by and remarks that everything is fake, that it is all a show. The mother turns around an fires a glare that can only come from a mother who has had to bury her son because of what her government has told him to do, and proceeds to repeatedly shut this callous shrew up every time she tries to speak. The woman can only counter the mother's rage with, "Well, a lot of people died."

A lot of people didn't have to.

I hope that the woman went home and reconsidered her unflinching support of the war. I hope she sees the movie and feels embarrassed. I hope that everyone finds someone who is in favor of the war or who is planning on voting for Bush and gets them to see this film. If it means one mother doesn't have to feel that anger anymore, then it is worth it.

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previous - next

The End - 2005-02-11
Let's Go on With the Show - 2005-01-30
The Curse, and This Bee's a Keeper - 2005-02-01
Sisters Lolita and Matronic Explain It All for You - 2005-01-31
Cowboys and Medievalists - 2005-01-30

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