throughout l‘il/ll‘t’ll/lt’ll 9/11 is the fact that in this film he finally concretes his profile as a self-styled Thomas Paine figure who imagines himself to be the voice of 'common sense‘. The trouble is that in reality Moore can’t be any kind of voice other than his own so what we get is part vendetta propaganda flick. pan ministerial lampoon (backed up inevitably by the hard luck stories of the minorities who have been defiled by the government of the world's only super power). In his own scattershot. post tnodern. destructuralised structural way Moore sets out to establish the crimes of the profane and the unspeakable. and in his own manipulative. innovative way he spears his big arsed subjects with a harpoon the size of Alaska. l'ltimately. we aren‘t talking about the artistry of the great documentarian Fred Wiseman (Hospital. Mm!) here: we are talking about the oeuvres of Leni Riefenstahl and liisenstein put through a blender and then edited into an old episode of That 's Lilia
Moore has certainly taken a media beating since scooping the Palme l)'()r at this year‘s (‘annes Film Festival. But after securing an incredible. not to say unbelievable. private distribution deal with llarvey Weinstein from Miramax. which saw the film open at an incredible 8()() screens simultaneously in the LS. Moore can take a little heat. (Ironically. Mel (iibson was involved in the early funding of the film but soon pulled out. It would have been interesting to see what kind of sales ticket cinema ratio deal llollywtxxl‘s own diminutive prophet could have cttt for the big fella).
Trawl the internet at the moment and you will now be met with more anti—Moore sites than pro ones (personal favourites include mooreexposed.com. moorewatch.com and (‘hristopher llitchens‘ rant on msnbc.com). Moore has indeed spurned a cottage industry dedicated to righting the inaccuracies and
fundamental flaws it sees in his work (on top of calling him a narcissist. a greedy businessman. a liar
and the fast ageing. bloated love child of Melina Mercouri and Ralph Nader).
20 THE LIST 8 2? Jill ?(J()-’1
Scenes from F9/11 (clockwise from bottom left): Marine recruiters enlist teenagers; Lila Lipscombe, mother of a US soldier killed in Iraq; Moore trying to convince congressmen to send their sons to Iraq; a secret service officer confronts Moore
The trouble is that Moore is really only doing what any angry. moderately gifted journalist turned anti-government propagandist would do: he is using the tools and tricks of his trade. And this is where he could really do with a helping hand from the man who set the template for the righteottsly indignant beta male — Henry David Thoreau. So now you need to listen. Michael. l‘irstly. you really need to drop all those ()rwell qtlotes: he is always a dodgy one as his work can be interpreted on too many different levels. Instead. when your critics say your work is riddled with half truths even if your endgame is deeply admirable. then why not hit them with 'l‘horeau‘s dictum that ‘()ur Life is frittered away by detail . . . Simplicity. simplicity.‘
So your enemies accuse you of playing with the reality of place and time to make events look like they happened consecutively. then why not serve them up with a bit of ‘Time is but the stream I go fishing in.‘ And if you come under heavy fire. why not go for the total opt out: 'lt takes two to speak the truth — one to speak and another to hear.‘
Let’s face it. the world would be a shittier place without Michael Moore. So he likes money. success. throwing hissy (its and driving around in chauffeured limousines. so what'.’ His legacy is assured because his aim is ttltimately true. As the great l'nitarian minister and spiritual thinker Ralph Waldo limerson said of 'l‘horeau all those years ago: ‘lle wants a little ambition in his mixture . . . Instead of being the head of American engineers. he wants to be the captain of the huckleberry patty.’
Fahrenheit 9/1 1 is on selected release from Fri 16 Jul.
Many have accused Michael Moore of being brilliant at creating a false impression without uttering a false word; others have called him the king of postmodern agitprop (political propaganda, disseminated through literature, drama, music or art). Here are ﬁve great agitprop moments from the arts.
Down and Out in Paris and London Forget about Animal Farm and 7984. this 1933 account of George Orwell‘s hand to mouth existence on the streets of two of Europe’s (then) richest cities as a vagabond and dishwasher stands alongside Robert Tressel‘s superb The Ragged Trousered Phl/anthrop/sts as the defining British agitprop novel. It called for the underclass to rise up and slaughter the empowered.
Red Wedge Way back in 1986 Paul Weller, Billy Bragg, the Communards and other pop stars with a socialist ideologue (do you even know what that means, McFIy ?) embarked on a tour to raise money and election suppon for the Labour Party. A defining agitprop music moment that has never really been repeated but which may have something to do with Labour getting its arse kicked in that year's election. .~ .
AND our IN PARIS ANE LONDON
Guernica Having been asked to deliver up a centerpiece for the Spanish Pavilion of the
Y , 1937 World's
‘ "‘ " ’ - Fair, Pablo Picasso produced a disturbing mural detailing Franco-ordered atrocities committed against a Basque village in 1937. It provoked outrage and praise and remains to this day modern art's most powerful anti-war statement. Picasso said it was unintentional but this painting did more to divide and consolidate the socialist factions of the Basque Separatist movements than any other.
The Threepenny Opera Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht's late 19203 masterpiece
was, in fact. based on John Gay's remarkable 1728 play The Beggar's Opera. Brecht and Weill's adaptation was a brilliant polarising examination of the exploitation of the poor in Victorian London. Colonies fell and unions thrived in the wake of this hummable baby. (Paul Dale)