Fahrenheit 9/11 is not a documentary

Nor is pretty much anything Michael Moore puts on film. It’s flat out appalling how much credence the media lends to Moore’s films by surrepetitiously calling them documentaries. What’s a documentary?

doc·u·men·ta·ry -  2. Presenting facts objectively without editorializing or 
inserting fictional matter, as in a book or film.

That’s right, objectively without editorializing. Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11 is detailed on the Cannes Film Festival Site as “a documentary that denounces the errors of the Bush government’s policies”. How can an a film “objectively without editorializing” denounce the errors of anyone? Denouncing implies judgement, which obliterates objectiveness. To the average person, calling a film a documentary suggests that it has taken an objective, fact-based approach to the subject matter. By calling the film a documentary rather than a film editorial, they are advancing the agenda that this film is fact rather than what it is – a slanted look at current events – an opinion editorial on film.

Moore intentionally refuses to cover different angles on his subjects, because that wouldn’t satisfy his political agenda. Clearly he has an agenda, his books and public comments are sufficient to establish that. A better documentarian could separate opinion from fact, and give an issue that intrigued them a fair treatment – the director of “Super Size Me” has made it a point that his goal is not to blame the fast food industry, and that the subject also involves personal choice. Moore invokes no such balance in his filmmaking, choosing to give topics treatments that serve his subjective purposes. He deserves a category all his own for feature-length editorials.


8 thoughts on “Fahrenheit 9/11 is not a documentary

  1. Things aren’t unbiased when you simply point out how evil corporations are, or how stupid conservatives are. That’s just how it is, and you should get used to it. Any rational person would draw that conclusion given all of the “angles”, so why bother covering them?

  2. Perhaps Moore’s films don’t fall into the document -category, but biased as they are, I’m glad someone’s taking the time to help shuffle the deck of highest authorities in the US. In any case I fear that electing a democrat to lead the country won’t make much of a difference anyway, let’s see if Kerry will be able to shake off the US’s reputation of being a war-monging nation acting against the will of the UN. Peace out

  3. My key point is that calling them documentaries gives them a greater aura of factual authority than they deserve.

    While I tend to disagree with his views, I fully defend his right to hold and express them. His opinions, combined with other views across the spectrum are a valuable part of American discourse, and help us as a nation reach educated conclusions.

    As for the “will of the UN”, resolutions 1441 and 687 expressed the will of the UN, though they showed no signs of ever enforcing these resolutions by any means other than continued resolutions. Ideally, I wish the UN would have stepped up to the plate and built a United Nations force to get the job done. Still, given the choice between making ourselves subject to will of the UN and exercising our rights as a sovereign nation in the spirit of the UN’s will, I’ll take the latter.

  4. Documentaries haven’t been unbiased since the early 90’s. For the last 10 years+ documentaries have come to be appreciated more and more for their aesthetic value and persuasive ability and not simply their informative content. Moore’s films are documentaries as are many of the other documentaries produced even if they are not totally objective.

  5. Umm, yeah, in case you haven’t noticed, most of my posts ARE Java/Technology related. It’s not my fault if the posts that become “popular” seem to be the off topic ones. Tell your peers not to read the non-Java topics so much.

  6. The beauty is in the eye of the beholder and the conclusions form in the mind of the viewer.

    Some documentaries spell things out visually with the intention of stimulating a certain thought process in the mind of the viewer.

    Michael Moore, as all documentarists, presents facts of his own choosing. You can’t say everything in a documentary or a history book, you must pick those things which you believe will help or cause your audience to inspect the objective reality in a way which will further the wellbeing of the human race (if you are a leftist) or the wellbeing of your immediate family and friends, or people with the same skin tone as you (if you are a rightist.)

  7. Rob, you are right and I wish more people would think critically about stuff like this. On this same note, Dan Rather delivers his daily news commentaries under the banner of “CBS News” on the CBS-owned radio station I listen to. Since Rather’s opinion and spin on the news is not news, Dan Rather should not be “editorializing’ under the auspices of “news”.

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