Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Jonah Goldberg is in fine form with this piece on Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11. He's what I like to call "on fire."

Which brings me to Michael Moore. He has officially become one of those rare figures who simply by his existence illuminates a great deal about politics. I don't need to know very much about you or your ideas to know that if you think Michael Moore is just great, a truth-teller and a much-needed tonic for everything that is wrong in American life, you are not someone to take seriously about anything of political consequence, or you are French. But I repeat myself.

Now that is not to say that if you think Moore is useful or coming from the "right direction" or some such that you aren't a serious person. One liberal friend (a prominent journalist) who went to the premiere noted that while Moore is for the most part a fraud and a hack, he serves the "cause" by pulling the debate back toward the left; he keeps people on their toes; he raises useful issues, etc. After all, Moore was the one who reintroduced the whole Bush-is-a-deserter canard, which may have torpedoed Wesley Clark's already sinking ship but buoyed the Democrats generally. I have some sincere problems with this sort of "side of the angels" argument - one that is frequently heard on the right about some of our own embarrassments, by the way. But it's certainly true that you can be intellectually honest and serious and hold such opinions...

But the fact remains that the more you think Michael Moore is an insightful and honest person the less reason there is for the rest of us to pay attention when your lips are moving.


[Moore] doesn't make arguments. Arguments require the marshalling of facts under the yoke of reason. Moore makes claims and assertions. He offers visual innuendo. He raises your passions about X so that you will believe Y must be true. He is a whispering Loki who values passion over persuasion, which is one reason he's changed his claims against Bush so many times...


Moore grabs at your base passions to power through his narrative. Which brings me back where I started. The one genre that has mastered the stringing together of unrelated or barely related scenes and facts without much care for the coherence of the narrative solely for the purpose of a visceral response in the audience is, in fact, pornography and Moore is the master of the masturbatory craft.

Tim Russert was right yesterday when he said Moore doesn't deserve to be called a "documentary maker" - but he most certainly deserves his Palme d'Or.
[HatTip to Frank J.]
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A webjournal of ideas, comments, and various other miscellany from a Texan university student (with occasional input from his family) living in Toronto, Ontario. Can you say "culture shock?"

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