Saturday, June 26, 2004

Bowling for Fahrenheit 

by Dave
Surfing for something to kick around the blog, I noticed Christianity Today's review of Michael Moore's latest film/documentary/satire/comedy (real name: Fahrenheit 9/11, whatever that is supposed to mean). CT calls it "heavily sarcastic, rather entertaining, and somewhat incoherent." The title he borrows from Ray Bradbury, and the poster borrows a picture of George Bush (putting just Moore on the poster would be . . . unappealing?).

I liked some of Moore's early stuff (such as Roger and Me) but he's kind of flying out of orbit lately. Why should we care? Because seeing is believing for most people. Americans increasingly get their news from what might be charitably termed "the alternative media," sources like talk radio, Drudge, and hyped books like the recent slew of "I hate Bush" books all being examples. These are all outlets on the fringes of journalism that hype controversy and are largely insulated from editorial review. Moore's success on the big screen seems to open a new niche for this alternative media. Ironically, the 9/11 Commission has released a bunch of good, accurate information lately (such as "Overview of the Enemy"), not by any means slanted in favor of the President, but with good facts, historical context, and reasoned analysis. I'm afraid people will watch Moore's movie and skip the Commission reports.

It's not the politics that's the issue, it's the genre. My concern is that Moore's approach can make any person or cause look foolish, stupid, or evil. What's his next target: The Boy Scouts? Religion? Mormons? Baseball? Apple pie? Lawyers? And will satirical documentaries displace Hollywood action flicks the way reality TV has displaced sitcoms and dramas?
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