Sunday, July 04, 2004

Yes, it is

I'm getting sick of right-wing hatemongers insisting Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11" isn't a documentary.

Yes, the movie is slanted. It is an unabashed propaganda peice. But that doesn't make it fiction. "Fahrenheit 9/11" compiles real footage and real facts. It just manipulates them to lead the viewer to a specific conclusion.

Kudos to the conservatives jouornalists and bloggers who've been able to pick apart Moore's "sneaky editing tactics." It must have taken some close scrutiny and a lot of research to find all the totally fucking obvious instances of one-sided storytelling.

Those of us who get Moore's viewpoint aren't stupid. We see what he's doing. We know Britney Spears doesn't serve as a spokesperson for U.S. opinion — but it's funny when the scene plays as such. Michael Moore is a satirist. He uses humor to deliver his message. Pointing out the particulars of his slant not only insults the viewer's intelligence, but it also serves to ruin the joke. There's no better way to kill a joke than to explain it.

Of couse, Moore's humor is more than just playful fun; he's serious about his viewpoint, and he wants to convince you to see things the same way. So why should he make a case for anything other than his own side?

A documentary is not required to examine both sides of an issue. One does not argue his opponent's side in a debate. Doing so would serve to undermine one's own position. It is not up to Michael Moore to highlight George Bush's "good qualities" alongside the bad. Likewise, it is not up to someone like Sean Hannity to highlight the benefits of a liberal agenda alongside his attacks against it.

Hannity's new book "Deliver Us From Evil: Defeating Terrorism, Despotism, and Liberalism" (yes, liberals are just as dangerous as terrorists) doesn't take both sides and let the reader choose which is best. He argues with a conservative slant. Nevertheless, his book is shelved in the non-fiction section of the library, alongside Moore's "Dude, Where's My Country?" Neither book presents a "fair" account, but they're both non-fiction.

There is a reason libraries and book stores are divided into sections of fiction and non-fiction. The opposite of fiction is fact, yet there is no fact section. Obviously, two books with opposing viewpoints cannot both be factual. As such, we call such books non-fiction.

The same holds true for the medium of film. A wholy concocted storyline would fit into a fiction category such as drama or comedy. Even a film based on factual events that uses actors to portray real people would fit into one of those categories. On the other hand, a film based on actual events using real footage of real people who aren't playing any role at all — no matter how skewed and manipulated its message — is non-fiction. And the word for non-fiction in the film medium is documentary.

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