Michael Moore’s ‘Fahrenheit 11/9’ Reviewed
After the debacle of the last election, after the intoxicating highs triggered by the certitude echoed by every Hollywood celebrity, from Katy Perry to Beyonce, that a woman would be our next president, we are left with the cries and the tears of an unbelievable defeat that Michael Moore soundtracks with an opera, and we are introduced to ‘Fahrenheit 11/9’ with a ‘How the fuck did this happen’, while looking at a huge photo of Trump’s face, projected on the Empire State Building in New York City.
The movie shows us ‘how the fuck this happened’ over and over and mostly it tells us that a monster – or whatever you want to call him – doesn’t come from nowhere. ‘Fahrenheit 11/9’ shows us how we have paved the way for the absurd, how Democrats have prepared the way for the worse, by their inaction and arrogant self-confidence. Michael Moore is not tender with Democrats, but it’s not an ‘I told you so’ movie either, Moore is smarter than that, and he does what he usually does the best, he goes to the common people, the poorest, the sickest and the most forgotten ones of the country, he sat down with them, listen and makes us listen. Even better, he gives the chance to the abandoned citizens to express their frustration and does it with his humble-guy signature demeanor. If the movie shows us plenty of Trump footage, this is not a film about Trump’s victory, it’s a movie about the US Democracy crumbling in front of our eyes and the people who risk everything to put it back on its feet. The blue collars, the teachers, the medical workers, and the anti-gun teenagers are the true heroes of the movie, as they should be in a real democracy.
For his demonstration, Moore goes to his own territory, his beloved Flint, Michigan, which also happens to be one of the most forgotten parts of the country. Not only Flint got genocided by its greedy governor Rick Snyder, who gave to his population lead-poisoned water, but Flint was also abandoned and betrayed by Obama himself, who came, drunk the filthy water, and ignored the problem. Even worst, he made the abandoned buildings of Flint a training field for the army! Why did he do that? Why did the Democrats ignore so many problems? Why were they so detached from people’s essential preoccupations? Isn’t it what Democrats should care about? Did Hillary spend too much time with George Clooney and Jay-Z and not enough time with her base? She even sent a cardboard silhouette and failed to appear in person in Michigan. Moore is clear, this out-of-touch attitude and pure neglect paved the way for the monster’s raise, and there’s nothing too difficult to understand there.
Another cause comes from the media, who gave Trump a pass for everything, from his outrageous insults to women and immigrants, to his incestuous relationship with Ivanka. Because he has always committed his crimes in plain sight, the media have truly given him a pass for everything, but after all, he was one of them, so that wasn’t really a surprise. Moore has a field day denouncing the series of media kings outed as sexual predators, from Matt Lauer to Charlie Rose, who have facilitated Trump’s ascension one way or another. He even narrates an encounter with Trump, who loved his movie ‘Roger & Me’ and prophetically said: ‘I love what he did, and I hope he never does a movie about me’.
‘Fahrenheit 11/9’ is a dense rollercoaster of emotions, from the Flint tragedy to the Trump mockery, the subject is very dark whatever the tone, but Michael Moore manages to make us laugh a few times, with his usual stunts, as he tries (and fails) to make a citizen arrest of governor Rick Snyder. However, the laughs can be ironic and sarcastic, as we are laughing at us when watching George Clooney saying before the election, ‘Trump will never be president of the United States’.
The style wants to be entertaining but the subject is poignant, denouncing the crimes from the right and the left, going after the Republicans’ greed (Snyder is a true criminal and should be in jail) and the Democrats’ lies and shortcoming. 100 million Americans didn’t vote in the last election, and you wonder why? Michael Moore asks us.
I bet Moore is going to be criticized for his footage of the Nuremberg rally, his parallel with the Nazis and the Führer’s voice doubled with Trump’s… a lazy comparison you are gonna say? He has historians to back him up and the parallels are convincing, fascism has many faces even if it is a smilie face on Twitter. Moore announces the end of democracy and after all, he was right when he announced Trump’s victory in 2016, whereas even Fox News was not even trying to do so.
The poignancy of the Flint tragedy, the big money tying the politicians’ hands don’t leave us much hope, is there any hope left? There’s nevertheless some hope in Fahrenheit, but it’s a very fragile hope and it soon becomes clear that a wishful and passive hope is definitively not enough if there is no action, this is the clear message of the movie, which showcases the ardent street fighters, with the last image focused on Emma Gonzalez’s face, when she gave her ‘March for Our Lives’ powerful speech.
‘Sometimes, it takes a Donald Trump to makes us realize that we need to get rid of the whole rotten system which gave us Trump’, says Moore at the end of the movie… the whole system or Gwen Stefani? According to Moore, the No Doubt singer is the first reason why Trump ran for president. Once he discovered the network was paying her more for ‘The Voice’ than him for ‘The Apprentice’, Trump did pretend to be a presidential candidate,… to impress people? Whatever, he had in mind, the idea stuck and the result looks as absurd as the cause, fascism caused by a TV show rivalry. It may sound trivial, but this is a big part of the Trump phenomenon, a man affectionately nicknamed ‘The Donald’ by his media friends, a popular demagogue who can get away with murder.
During the Q&A, Moore revealed that he wanted to hire the best comedians (Chris Rock, Amy Schumer, and Bill Maher) to write comedy lines for Hillary during the debates in order to make Trump explode on national TV. This was unfortunately declined by her campaign and that’s truly unfortunate proving again that the Democrats don’t have the courage of their convictions… And who knows how a Chris Rock/Amy Schumer joke could have shifted the turn of this election?