Sunday, June 20, 2004

Mooreish Concerns

The world is prepping for the release of another Michael Moore movie, Fahrenheit 9/11. Conservatives who haven't seen the movie are tearing it apart, Liberals who haven't seen the movie are calling it a Godsend. I don't know if it's going to affect the election, because I suspect the people who will see it have already made up their minds, and those who probably should see it will be picketing out front.

I'm going to see it, because I'd like to see what Moore is up to (remember, I worked on The Awful Truth, Moore's TV show for the Bravo network, back in college). It's gotten good reviews, most notably from none other than Fox News (I couldn't find the exact link, but I've seen the review quoted several other places). Roger Ebert, with whom I typically don't agree too much regarding films, gave it a glowing review as well. Apparently, he got some pretty heated mail over it, and wrote a follow-up article in the Sun-Times, where he specifically responds to one of his critics.

The highlight of Ebert's article is:

A reader writes:

"In your articles discussing Michael Moore's film 'Fahrenheit 9/11,' you call it a documentary. I always thought of documentaries as presenting facts objectively without editorializing. While I have enjoyed many of Mr. Moore's films, I don't think they fit the definition of a documentary."

That's where you're wrong. Most documentaries, especially the best ones, have an opinion and argue for it. Even those that pretend to be objective reflect the filmmaker's point of view. Moviegoers should observe the bias, take it into account and decide if the film supports it or not.

That has been the thrust of the right's attacks on Moore: that a) he twists the facts to his own ends, which of course he does, and b) that he's not making objective documentaries.

Every time I've said "there is no such thing as an objective documentary, that's the nature of documentary films," people have looked at me like I'm crazy. Here's Ebert, saying the same thing - it's something that anyone familiar with film (and, I argue, anyone with an ounce of sense) should know.

I'n not sure what's worse - that a lot of people who might have seen the film won't because they don't feel it's "objective," or that a lot more people out there seem to think that a whole lot of previous documentaries have been objective that so obviously were not.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Reminds me of our discussion about the in inability of news organizations to be un-bias. Everyone has opinions. Everyone is colored by those opinions. Our opinions make us who we are, affect how we see the world, and often define the direction of our lives. To deny opinion and demand 100% objectivity in both unrealistic and naive. Its like asking someone to make decisions without the benefit of life experiences. Any such "documentary" would be lifeless, pointless, and without direction.