Fahrenheit 11/9: Michael Moore and the bogey man
America’s number one political film-maker offers a thoughtful critique of how the country came to elect Donald Trump
22 October, 2018 — By Dan Carrier
Directed by Michael Moore
DO we need yet another warning sounded? Do we need to be told again of the horrendous robber barons who, because of the rise of neo-liberalism, have plunged us into poverty, stolen our futures, are killing our planet, and at every turn are committing criminal, immoral acts… yet are somehow getting away with it?
Do we need to be warned of the rise of fascist-like movements that are masquerading under that soft-soft term, populism, instead of being called exactly what they are?
The short answer is yes: we need the likes of Michael Moore to continue to make his political documentaries. In this latest instalment, he primarily tries to understand the cult of Donald Trump, but also puts America’s joker-in-chief into a context to show how such a situation where such a stupid, immoral figure could have become so powerful.
Moore starts his film by blaming Gwen Stefani: the singer, who was a judge on The Voice, was being paid more than Trump when he was on The Apprentice, and so he set up a publicity gimmick to get his wages boosted by saying at a press conference he was going to run for President.
The rest is history. The joke became serious. He ran. He won.
Moore starts here and then explains how his country’s political system is broken. He uses a range of targets to show how. We travel to Flint, Michigan, where a generation has been poisoned by an unnecessary water pipeline instigated by a Republican governor and his cronies.
We hear from the children who were victims of a Florida school shooting. He shows how the US electoral system, set up 200 years ago to placate the fears of the slave-owning states, means the numbers of votes cast does not always lead to the person with the most taking a seat in the Oval office.
He uses a montage of statistics to show the prevailing views of the majority of Americans – they are very much in the liberal ascendancy – but how that does not translate into having a government that pursues a similar agenda.
Trump almost appears to be a too-easy target – we are treated to segment after segment after segment that shows how completely unfit he is for any public office – but less easy to watch is when Moore turns his ire towards the Democrats, and explains how they have facilitated the rise of Trumpism.
We in the UK have our own robber barons: from the Brexit campaign (why aren’t we all shouting about the fact an EU tax-dodging law is set to come into play in January, a directive that would have hit those who bankrolled the Leave camp) through to the start of fracking, which has an eerie resemblance to Flint’s water crisis, the rise of Trump has echoes here.
Moore offers a thoughtful critique of how America came to elect this vile person (the greatest hits of his poor behaviour are something to behold) and then attempts to offer a way out.
This is a stark warning, drawing on history to outline just how mad, bad and dangerous the current POTUS, and what he represents, is.
Sobering stuff from America’s number one political film-maker.