Fahrenheit 911 & Bowling for Term Paper

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Antisocial behavior is largely the result of poverty, prejudice, lack of education, and low social status rather than human nature or lack of character...

Rightists believe that character is largely inborn and genetically inherited.

Hence the emphasis of many right-wingers on lineage and the advantage of coming from "a good family"...

In Michael Moore's depiction of George W. Bush's Presidential administration within Fahrenheit 911, Moore often emphasizes Bush's influential and powerful family ties; the fact that Bush's father was President before him and still wields great influence over the Saudis, and that Bush's father and other Bush relatives, along with the younger Bush, still have close relations with other, similarly dynastic families, such as the Bin Ladens of Saudi Arabia and the Saudi Royal family.

In one other part of the film Fahrenheit 911, Michael Moore even jokes about how the Bush family is so fond of Saudi Arabia's charismatic one-time Ambassador to the United States, Prince Bandar, that they call him "Bandar Bush," and entertain him when he visits the United States as if he were an actual family member. These parts of the film exemplify what Gianetti describes as the right-wing's typical emphasis on family ties, or "lineage," over the left's greater emphasis on equality of all human beings, including the belief, by the left, in everyone's right to equal opportunities and treatment, within society and under the law. This, then, is the distinction between Michael Moore himself and the wealthy and powerful individuals whose self-serving, hypocritical actions he depicts in Fahrenheit 911. Further, it is also the essential difference between Moore and the makers of and participants in the comparatively much more politically conservative docudrama films FahrenHype 9/11 and Celsius 41.11 - The Temperature at Which the Brain Begins to Die.

Several of the opening shots and sequences of Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 911 imply that George W. Bush was practically anointed to the U.S. Presidency, rather than having earned the right to be President on his own. Moore further suggests that the Presidency is a position George W. Bush ought not to occupy, based on family ties alone, starting with the questionable results of the Presidential election of 2000, especially in Florida, where Bush's brother, Jeb Bush, was Governor.

Then, when the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 take place, Bush appears ill suited and ill equipped to lead, within Moore's documentary, since he had been placed into the U.S. Presidency based on family ties, rather than on his own individually-proven abilities, skills, or merits. While Michael Moore does take a great deal of creative license in establishing these ideas, there was, even in 2004, arguably sufficient disillusionment with Bush as President among (self-selected) political docudrama film audiences that year, that many people who saw and liked the film likely readily accepted Moore's often-manipulative fact-twisting, or perhaps even failed altogether to see that Moore's "evidence" was not always solid.

Further, Moore's film audience for Fahrenheit 911 could likely identify, for the most part, with Moore's own less-than-VIP treatment at the hands of secret service agents and government officials, e.g., while filming with his crew outside the Saudi Arabian embassy; or while trying to speak candidly with a suddenly camera-shy Congressman about sending his own children to fight in Iraq, etc. Moore himself, as filmmaker; interviewer, and participant, is not after all a privileged individual like George W. Bush; his advisors, or members of Congress, and most average American moviegoers can therefore easily identify with Moore, as filmmaker; film interviewer, and participant. The same goes for Moore in his various other politically liberal docudramas critical of the power elite and their abuses of power, e.g., Roger and Me, and in some respects, Bowling for Columbine.

Other areas in which the political left wing (as represented by Michael Moore and his films) and the right wing (as represented by films like FahrenHype 9/11 and Celsius 41.11 - The Temperature at Which the Brain Begins to Die, and their makers and participants) differ are in their beliefs about social progress and economic competition. As Gianetti further points out, for example:

People on the left believe that social progress is best achieved by a Cooperative effort on the part of all citizens toward a common goal... The Role of government is to guarantee the basic needs of life -- work, health, education, etc. -- and this can be most efficiently accomplished if everyone feels he or she is contributing to the common good.

Rightists emphasize open market principles and the need for competition to bring out the best in everyone... (pp. 406-407)

Within Fahrenheit 911 Michael Moore uses footage that is simultaneously disturbing and humorous, in which President George W. Bush is shown, immediately after hearing the news of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, continuing to read the children's book My Pet Goat to a group of Florida elementary school children, while also looking blankly off into the distance trying to figure out what to do next. The sequence of events leading up to that series of shots, in which Bush reads "My Pet Goat" and looks perplexed, for at least five full minutes, is obviously intended by Moore to illustrate that, even though Bush comes from a powerful, privileged family, he is still unfit, on his own, to be President.

In yet another part of Fahrenheit 911, Moore shows a meeting of the Carlyle Group, and President Bush's father, George H.W. Bush, as one of its members, implying that the Bush family has competed successfully and won in the world marketplace, and now remains one of the leading economic "players" everywhere, including within Saudi Arabian oil interests, while so many others, throughout America and the world, go without even basic necessities.

Michael Moore's 2004 documentary film Fahrenheit 911 provides an eye- opening look at the Bush administration's many areas of neglect and incompetence, as well as some of its cozy but questionable business dealings, particularly with the Saudi royal family, the Bin Ladens, and others. However, it also has a clear left-wing bias, evidence of Michael Moore's own ideological perspective and way of looking at power, politics, society, and the world. It is this bias that the more conservative makers of FahrenHype 9/11

2004) (V) and Celsius 41.11 - The Temperature at Which the Brain Begins to Die seek, in particular, to attack.

Another of Michael Moore's award winning docudramas, Bowling for Columbine (2002) provides an eye-opening and disturbing look at the social problem of violence in the United States, particularly violence with guns. The film focuses on events leading up to the tragic Columbine High School shootings in particular; e.g., the atmosphere of Columbine High School and the mostly white, upper-middle-class community of Littleton, Colorado itself; the aftermath of the shootings, and social action taken, by Michael Moore himself, accompanied by two of the Columbine High School shooting victims, to urge K-Mart stores to stop carrying the brand of bullets used to shoot students at Columbine.

From a culturally critical perspective, Michael Moore effectively shows, within his docudrama Bowling for Columbine, how social institutions (e.g., the Littleton, Colorado community itself; the high school at which the shootings occurred) and social relationships (e.g., within the community; between students) alike had played unfortunately destructive roles leading up to the Columbine High School massacre (Chisholm). Michael Moore's documentary investigation into the Columbine tragedy also effectively presents the causes and consequences of a recurring social problem, gun violence, and how and why this problem exists and continues to increase in America, although not in other parts of the world.

Moore's docudrama film Bowling for Columbine is above all an indictment of gun violence in America, with the tragedy at Columbine High School used by Moore as an example of how and why gun violence occurs in the United States, far too often, based on the easy accessibility of guns, to all who desire them. In Bowling for Columbine, Moore also critically explores the historical and sociological, and even the cinematic (e.g., the American Western as a film genre) roots of America's fascination with guns, and of many Americans' overwhelming desire for gun ownership, even tracing these back to the myths of the Wild West.

Along the way, Michael Moore also discovers and points out to his Bowling for Columbine audience, however, that:

conventional answers of easy availability of guns, violent national history, violent entertainment and even poverty are inadequate to explain this violence when other cultures share those same factors without the equivalent carnage. In order to arrive at a possible explanation, Michael Moore takes on deeper examination of America's culture of fear, bigotry and violence in a nation with widespread gun ownership. Furthermore, he seeks to investigate and confront the powerful elite political and corporate interests fanning this culture for their own unscrupulous gain. (Chisholm)

One portion of this film that was particularly memorable and revealing (by association) of the American psyche in particular, was when Michael Moore went up to Canada…[continue]

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