Some time back, after I made a reference to Fahrenheit 9/11, blog reader Tim challenged me to watch the conservative answer to Michael Moore’s film, FahrenHYPE 9/11. I said I’d put it on my Netflix list to view, which I did. I just finished watching it.
It was worth seeing, as a comparison piece. It does call Moore on some apparently dishonest representations he made, and his unauthorized use of out-of-context footage of people who did not want to be seen as supporting his position. At the same time, the film is awash in the same kind of propagandistic representation that it’s slamming Moore for using. (Tim made no bones about this; he merely said, if you’re going to watch one piece of propaganda, you ought to watch the opposing propaganda, too.)
My original reference to Fahrenheit 9/11 concerned the footage of President Bush in the school classroom immediately after receiving word of the 911 attacks. I said he looked like a deer caught in headlights. I still say that, despite the supposed rebuttal. HYPE makes clear that Bush was silent because he was following the off-camera instructions of his press secretary. Okayyy. The commander in chief, upon receiving word of an attack on his country, is taking instructions from his press secretary. Sorry—if that’s decisiveness, I’m Stephen King. He should have excused himself quickly, and gotten himself the hell to the nearest command center. Instead, we had the VP issuing commands as to whether F-15s were authorized to fire on civilian planes.
Most of HYPE is devoted to trying to convince the audience that there is a real terrorist threat in the world—something that hardly needs proving—and to creating the impression that Moore is somehow on the side of the enemy, and that he was dishonoring our troops. That part was bilge, and a deliberate misdirection of Moore’s statements. (However, it did contain genuinely moving testimony from families about the sacrifices their family members had made.)
To my mind, the most telling moment of the film came at the very end, with the tag line: “[America] is the only consistent force for good in the world today.” And if that isn’t a perfect demonstration of the conceit and arrogance of the conservative right, I don’t know what is. Nobody else is out there doing good, just us? Okay, sure.
Allow me to introduce myself. I’m Stephen King…