[mediawatch] fahrenheit 9/11

Saw it almost a week ago. Liked it more than I expected. The gap before posting comment is more due to being a busy bugger than needing to ruminate, oddly enough.
Anyway. I think most of the criticism of the film is wrongheaded, and this is why: Moore is not trying to construct an argument, he is trying to challenge and undermine the narrative handed down by the Bush administration.
This sort of thing is supposed to be the role of the media in general. Unfortunately, given the massive systemic problems within modern media systems, this isn�t happening. So, part of Moore�s job is to challenge the media as much as the narrative.
Moore�s film can only be understood in the context of the media coverage of the Iraq war. It won�t just be no longer current in five years� time � it�ll be nearly incomprehensible. It is *specifically designed* to run in parallel to regular media coverage. In this sense, it is wrong to expect Moore to be balanced � he is not trying to present the whole picture, just the side that isn�t already in the news.
Moore also presents a lot of things not as concrete criticisms but as symbols, ways to approach the administration that are verboten in the narrative which is handed down by the media. The make-up, the golf bit, even the 9/11 footage isn�t necessarily saying �this is stuff they�re doing wrong�, it�s saying �see these guys? they�re way more fallible than you are normally allowed to see.� Refuting these by saying �they aren�t criticisms!� is missing the point.
I have problems with the film. It rambles, doesn�t make its points with any clarity, is self-indulgent and at times stupidly simplistic, and betrays hints of racism (the sinister Saudis) and jingoism (the coalition mockery).
But I think the vitriol being thrown at it just doesn�t stick. Moore�s project is a valuable one and the big criticisms don�t impact on this project at all. People should see this film, even if they disagree with everything it says. It is impossible to come out of this film and still fully buy into the narrative of power that comes spinning out of the White House, and that is Moore�s greatest achievement and why he isn�t preaching to the converted after all.
Final note: one of the big criticisms of the film is that Moore misrepresents the Saudi flights. I think he does try to make a bigger deal of this than is warranted � but his overall point is that the Saudis received special treatment because they had big financial influence in the Capitol. It wasn�t about �you screwed up the 9/11 investigation� but rather �see how much influence the Saudis have?�
The criticism says (a) Richard Clarke okayed it, and he�s out of the Bush crew, so it�s wrong to try and stick it on Bush; and (b) they didn�t get special treatment anyway, just what any other wealthy group would have got.
(A) This barely needs a response – Clarke was part of the admin at the time, and his decisions served the administration. The fact that he has expressed criticism of how the Bush admin works doesn�t make his decision somehow independent of the charge of undue Saudi string-pulling.
(B) This is harder to prove, as it can only ever be a �what if� counterfactual � but I have no doubt that if the family in question weren�t incredibly wealthy folk tied in to the White House, then there�s no way they would have been cleared for departure so quickly. At the same time as hundreds of Arab-looking people were being detained without charge, the Saudis � who have close family ties to Osama, even though he is estranged � were moved to the front of the queue, given questioning aboard planes, and then given clearance to leave the moment the no-fly order was lifted. Hell, if they were French, they�d still all be locked up.