Wednesday, June 30, 2004

I promised myself that I would withhold judgement on Farenheit 9/11 until AFTER I see it, unlike many on the ideological oppposite end of the spectrum...

After reading the Christopher Hitchens article posted by Jeff, I was disappointed.
I couldn't explain why... Hitchens has always been one of those essayists who while I don't agree with him frequently, I admire his ability as a writer and the breadth and depth of his knowledege. But something just felt... I dunno... well, it felt below his usual caliber of writing.

And then had a link to the following critique of Christopher Hitchen's review of F9/11 (why does that sound like some overpriced sports car?).

While I find that the reviewer veers sometimes into ranting (which, to be fair, Hitchens did as well) he does point out some of the flaws in Hitchen's argument. Too bad though that this won't get the same level of exposure as Hitchen's. But then again, maybe it will.


Jeffrey Hill said...

I commend you on your criteria for criticism. I don't always feel like I have to read or see something to know what it's about. I feel like I've seen enough of Moore to realize his bag of tricks. It would be like you having to keep listening to Hannity's radio show to feel justified in criticizing it. What's the point? (Steve: Hannity's an idiot. Jeff: Oh, but did you bother to listen to this week's show!?!) You've heard enough Hannity to make your decision & any return to the show would be a waste of your time, right? The same with Moore. I've watched some films, seen he TV show, etc. I periodically check his site. And I've read reviews of Bowling and Fahrenheit. Perhaps someday I will even see those latter two pictures - but I have a problem with giving him my money. Incidentally, Jonah Golberg had a piece that explains some of my position.

I will, however, read the Parry fisking of the Hitchens fisking before I comment on that...out of respect for you.

Steve said...

Well, mostly my urge to withhold from criticism of it is that while my views are mostly in line with Moore - I find some of his actions as of late to be rather enfant terrible.
WE were discussing F9/11 on a smoke break today, and something was brought up by a friend of mine - Moore used to be just as harsh about Clinton as he is now about Bush. TV Nation was very much a Take No Prisoners style satire show. The Awful Truth wasn't (in my opinion) quite as sharp.
First and foremost I like Moore for his desire to pop the bubbles that public figures build around themselves. Perhaps going after Heston in "Bowling for Columbine" was in bad taste, but looking over to the other side of the fence, Limbaugh, Coulter, O'Reilly and Hannity have all made similiar gaffes, which are conveniently glossed over.
It seems to me that Moore is employing a "...sauce for the gander" style of polemic. But as of late, he has gotten a bit convinced of his own genius. So I'm withholding judgement even though being inundated with the media effluvia from both fronts, so that I can judge the work on it's own merits.

RE: Hannity... yer right. I do knee jerk on him, but when I read on of the distortions and half-truths he eschews, I feel vindicated. And having skimmed his book recently in the bookstore (I was feeling especially self-abusive) I find his writing to be pedestrian and lousy.

Steve said...

He makes some good points, but undermines his credibility (there's an irony) since he qualifies his argument at the outset by diminishing the opposing viewpoint: "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." -- cut from the linked column. Then why say something like that unless you are wanting to draw attention to it? Nice little embedded attack there.

Ah... so by feeling that perhaps Michael Moore does play an important role in American Politics by being a satirist, but not a journalist, (A title that as far as I know I have never seen him claim - unlike O'Reilly for example) therefore my (along with other people who can discern opinions from facts) views are irrelevant when discussing politics.

I would argue that Goldberg is wrong in his defense that "Limbaugh and others are deserving of their own criticisms and defenses" (paraphrasing there). None of them are journalists, they're Op/Ed writers. Even those I would think who started out in Journalism, but then wrap their own opinions into the facts they are presenitng have become "editorialists" more than journalists, Or for the few that display some sort of skill with writing, essayists. Most of them have Radio Shows... and as such are allowed to expel their views on a daily basis, allowing for a high saturation of their views presented as "journalism".
Moore is a filmmaker and sporadically espouses his views via that media... a much more limited exposure ratio than the "horrendous frankensteins" or whatever Goldberg said.
Overall - they are all Media Figures. Individuals who use the aritificial position of Celebrity as created by their participation in Mass Media to impart some sense of authority to their opinions. (Hrmm - Perhaps part of the threat that the right feels from Moore is that fact that he's clued into what McCluhan was blathering on about with the often-repeated-more-often-misunderstood phrase "The medium is the message"?)
In short - they distort, Moore distorts, Moore throws out red herrings, as has Limbaugh, O'Reily, Hannity and Coulter. see the MeidaMatters site for more proof of this.
On a second and thrid reading, Goldberg seems to be playing a very convoluted game of "hello pot, this is kettle" but then trying to say he isn't.
So now that I've come off defending Moore... and I'm sure rendering myself even more irrelevant in the eyes of Goldberg and all "right-thinking" (pun intended) members of his audience, here's a link from the which offers some of the most even handed criticism of F9/11 yet.