Friday, July 02, 2004

Fahrenheit 911

Here is my cousin's review of Fahrenheit 911. I have to say that this is a pretty fair and accurate assessment of Michael Moore's latest work.

I saw F-911 in a sold-out show in Ottawa on Wednesday, with my brother. Viewing this film with a Canadian audience added an unexpected twist to my experience. While those around me chuckled and guffawed at the scenes which portrayed Bush to be an idiot, I felt real and extreme physical agitation, right down to the tips of my fingers. It was like I had just chugged ten cups of Starbucks. I suspect that most of the audience could feel a bit more detached from the lunacy than me. It is my husband, and the husbands of my friends, and the mothers and fathers of my son's classmates, who have been/are currently/will be the ones sent into harm's way by the Commander in Chief and his neocon cabal.

Almost as interesting as the film itself, were the comments I overheard from the two young (ie twentysomething) women sitting behind us. During an unexpected intermission (the film stopped abruptly, the lights came on, and management removed a member of the audience for some reason), the ladies were discussing the Abu Ghraib torture scandal. One said, "how stupid do you have to be, to take pictures of yourself while dragging someone around on a chain? Who does that, anyway?". That was my first reaction to the photos, too. Then, I felt intense pity and pathos for the detainees. Then, my feelings morphed into an incandescent rage when I realized that the actions of those evil fools would put my husband at great risk for retaliatory attacks. There are simply no words and no excuses for what those soldiers did, but there are reasons, and those reasons extend far beyond the stupidity and sadistic cruelty of a handful of reservists. I couldn't help but perceive a certain sense of Canadian smugness and superiority in the tone of the women who sat behind us. I guess they've never heard about Shidane Arone.

At the end of the movie, waiting for the theatre to clear out, the conversation behind me turned to a soundbite in the film. A young soldier is shown saying "I hate this country." (namely, Iraq). The women were shocked by this comment, but then said something to the effect that nothing better could be expected from him. After all, said my smug audience-mates and fellow Canadian citizens, the US Army can only scrape the dregs of the society from the bottom of the barrel to fill its ranks. My brother's hand on my shoulder helped me to hold my tongue. Moore's film does make the valid point that the military is the only viable choice for many American citizens (and resident aliens) who wish to escape the grinding poverty and crime of Anytown USA. What I felt was unfair, was the way soldiers were portrayed as simple, inarticulate, thoughtless, knuckle-dragging bubbas from Redneckville, USA.

It's been 48 hours since I walked out of the theatre, and my body still feels like I have an IV of Starbucks running into my arm, wide open. There is so much more to say about this film, but I will leave that to those who write better than I do.

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