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November 11, 2004
Let me put this straight. Michael Moore is a fucking moron, who beneath that baseball cap enjoys the nice, glamorous camera lenses directed towards him. I have a laundry list of issues regarding Fahrenheit 9/11, his documental petard thrown at the Bush administration and its mismanagement of international affairs. I'm sure the guy means well but his gravity-defying light arguments always make me long for my earplugs or the remote control.

Building up a political statement from level-jumping argumentation and leftovers from your breakfast discussion is not the best way to deal with facts and human losses. At one point, Moore's lame case study proceeds through a debate-provoking set of questions. The Achilles' heel here is that his manipulative kicks outnumber the serious stuff he deals with.

The clock ticking on the screen after George W. Bush is informed that his nation is under attack is perhaps Fahrenheit 9/11's strongest milestone - the one that has certainly raised many shocked eyebrows. Elsewhere Moore's constant narrative voice is just background noise, relating facts and figures intertwined with stylistic gadgets that glue together truths and lies.

Michael Moore is not the first filmmaker to address traumatic experiences, like terrorism and war, in such a deranged way. Sergei Eisenstein (1898-1948), a Russian director, was one of the first to realize that careful editing of films could be used to manipulate the audience's feelings. Battleship Potemkin, an influential Communist propaganda flick, served as the guinea pig to test Eisenstein's theories of montage.

And there's also Frederick Wiseman (born in 1930 in Cambridge, Massachusetts), who, back in 1970, founded Zipporah Films, Inc., which continues to distribute and promote his documentaries. The main difference between Moore and Wiseman is that the latter's films don't rely on voice-over narration or commentary of any kind; instead they are based on clever editing selection. He is often quoted as saying "A documentary, by whomever made and in no matter what style, is arbitrary, biased, prejudiced, compressed, and subjective like any of its sisterly or brotherly forms."

Although I'm not very supportive of strongly biased artistic statements, my problem with Michael Moore is more ethical than stylistic. If you are trying to point your finger at something that is wrong, and you base your statements on vacuous illations and disrupted, unproven criteria, you will not be taken in full account. So, for those who were trying their hardest not to speak up about Moore's fallacies on the chance it might have created a ricochet effect and inadvertently favoured the Republican side, it's time to come out of the closets.

Last week George W. Bush was re-elected for another four years of harassing self-righteous countries, torturing innocent people and trading blood for oil. Now that the Democratic Party is licking its wounds, you can either blame John Kerry's defeat on his constant, mind-blowing rollercoaster of political assertions or the miscarried Democratic propaganda, led by people like Michael Moore. Either way, it's time to act. And, although an opinion is worth a mere five cents, when a choir of voices is raised to a high-pitch level, something leaks to the public radar and action is underway.

Bush has been given four more years to prove that he is better than Mussolini. That said, he had better start dealing with the following issues:

Sudan - On the day America voted, Sudanese officials pushed hundreds of refugees out of Darfur camps in an action condemned by the United Nations. There's a humanitarian crisis going on the largest country in Africa and the world doesn't care. An unknown number of people die every day, but the Bush Administration is too preoccupied dealing with the messes in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Middle East - Now that Yasser Arafat has passed on and will soon be buried, it is time to rethink the United States' (now inexistent) mediation of the conflict. America's endorsement of any (terrorist) counterattack led by Israel against (or to prevent) Palestinian terrorist actions is unbearable and only thickens the Muslim anger around the globe.

Nuclear Non-Proliferation - The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty was first signed in 1968 as a measure to restrict the possession of nuclear weapons in the United States, United Kingdom, France, the former Soviet Union and China. In 1995 more than 170 countries decided it would be better to extend the Treaty indefinitely and without conditions rather than to risk letting it lapse. However, it would not be far off to say that the treaty has known as many holes as it has signatories. Nowadays, not only India and Pakistan (boiling with the everlasting fight over Kashmir), but also Israel possess nuclear weapons, which would be illegal had any of the former ratified the treaty. It is long past the time at which politicians around the globe should start regarding this proliferation as a serious issue. The United States could go first, but we know they won't - it's hard when you have your hands tied and you're buried into your neck in ambiguous standpoints.

Iran - Last August the United States intelligence realized that it was hopeless to promote diplomatic efforts to prevent Iran and North Korea from developing nuclear weapons. This week, Iran has promised to retaliate if attacked over this issue. In a shameful election earlier this year, the prevailing Conservative power of the ayatollahs fucked up the reformist movement's plans to reposition Iran on this issue. Regardless, when the main watchdog is the greatest nuclear machinery developer, most feel tempted to disregard threats and complaints.

Kyoto Protocol - Generally speaking, this Kyoto Protocol is a drafted attempt to an international treaty on global warming. George W. Bush has said that he doesn't intend to submit the protocol for ratification, because he doesn't agree with its details. What qualifications Bush has to critique scientific analysis remain unclear. One of the concerns raised by this document is the urgent need to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere. It has long been known that the Arctic region is continuously experiencing widespread melting of glaciers and that there is widespread thinning sea ice, and it was recently announced that permafrost temperatures are rising. The world should be taking action against the self-induced environmental degradation, and the United States should be leading the charge as both the most advanced and the most responsible party.

It should be obvious that the demand for careful and thoughtful action in the near future extends well beyond these five topics. There is also the continuing Iraq issue - where the only decisions being made seem to result in more chaos - as well as the complications of North Korea and various other hot spots. If Bush would only considered this set of key issues, the world would be a better place, But that Bush will make a move on any of them, now that the American people has sunk into yet more conservative times, seems unlikely. It amazes me how an entire nation can praise freedom, progress and equality from one side of its mouth while it tries to swallow up the winds of change, expressed in proposals like the liberation of gay marriages and the cautious practice of abortion, from the other. Americans seem unwilling to accept the fact that, as world leaders, their decisions cascade through other nations around the world and have real consequences.

A friend of mine says that the best thing about Bush being re-elected is that music will be better and more poignant in the years to come, with artists spitting out their concerns and protest songs. I say that is not enough. Sometimes I just feel like belching the American national anthem, but I know that would be rude.

--
Helder Gomes
Currently living on the south bank of the Tagus river, in Portugal, Helder Gomes is a working class hero. He is a journalist for the local radio station Rádio Nova Anten. In his spare time, he skates and watches many odd movies. He is in love with the French nouvelle vague, and the Danish/Swedish invasion. He writes for a number of publications, on the Internet or otherwise, notably the underground Portuguese magazine Mondo Bizarre, and the Jazz Review website. He is also the news collector and a staff witer for the adorable Lost at Sea. Oh, and there is also the Coffee Breakz radio show that he tries to host every Saturday.

See other articles by Helder Gomes.

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