June 23, 2004 was the day that I officially became politically active and aware of the injustices in my country. I had heard rumblings about rights and wrongs as a child. I knew my dad liked Bill Clinton and was not a fan of George W. Bush. I knew that, as a soldier in the United States Army at that time, I could be deployed Iraq or Afghanistan any time it was deemed necessary. However, I knew very little about the politics or decision making that had landed us in those wars. I didn’t know much about Republicans or Democrats. And I didn’t really even think much about the democratic institutions that governed our citizenry. All I knew was that I was a 21 year old guy, with 2 kiddos, and a sick wife, who understood that every friend I said “goodbye” too might not be coming back home.
That all changed on that windy night in June of 2004. I had heard that an incendiary film, by a man named Michael Moore, was going to tackle the whole possible reason for the war and why my friends were going overseas to possibly die. Even more so, why I might be sent overseas any day to possibly die or be forced to kill someone I didn’t know anything about. That film was ‘Fahrenheit 9/11’ and it opened my eyes to the world around me unlike anything had previously done. It was both shockingly eye opening and intimate in its portrayal of human stories. It made compelling cases for wrongdoing by the President and made you laugh at some of his blunders. It even opened my eyes to the bullshit election that had just happened and how the current president might not be legitimate. It shocked me.
That film changed my life forever and made me a very politically active person. It also gave me an immense respect for Michael Moore. Well, fast forward 14 years and the world made some strides forward, but the country is now under siege by its own institutions. And so, Michael Moore has decided to create an equally engaging film to shine a light on the injustices, abuses, and steps being taken to move our nation towards an autocracy. ‘Faherenheit 11/9’ is Moore’s best work sense the unforgettable health care doc, ‘Sicko’. It has all the heart and humor that make you connect to his entertaining films, but it’s also as incendiary as ‘Fahrenheit 9/11’. Moore is out to expose the systematic take down of our democratic institutions and he makes the threat feel very real.
Whether he is stringing together news footage to create a narrative or he is interviewing teachers to expose how real change can come from those who fight for what is right, Moore’s filmmaking prowess is undeniable. He connects with the viewer on a human level. He understands that filmmaking is the art of manipulation and manipulation is best when it is emotional. Sometimes that emotion is drawn out the way he humorously illuminates the Clinton campaign’s follies. Sometimes that emotion is a powerfully tear inducing trip into the heart of the Flint water crisis. And sometimes that emotion is ripped from you with the way he frighteningly connects the initial rise of fascism with the rise of today’s Republican Party (and Donald Trump in particular). It is his ability to connect with the audience emotionally that makes his film so visceral and often unforgettable.
‘Fahrenheit 11/9’ might be his deepest and most emotional film yet. Yes, it meanders a bit and often lacks focus, but the passion is never missing. The way he shines a light on the powerful movement of the Parkland kids after editing together the most frightening splice of recorded video from the tragedy is amazing. He tears your heart out before feeding you a vision of the future. However, it’s the way that he digs so deep into the Flint water crisis that makes this film so great. I won’t ruin any of the revelations for you, but you will want to riot or march in the streets after watching this shit.
Moore will even make die hard liberals feel disappointment in Obama and Clinton, while actually understanding why Trump was elected. In fact, his editing of Trump’s economic speeches made me think for a minute that I could have voted for him if even a half a syllable he spoke was true or even possible. Moore’s talent to make you question yourself, take a look at your own convictions, and shine a real light on something that has always been right in front of us is staggering. He made me want to run for political office and I’m truly considering it in 2020.
Moore has always lit a fire in me. He’s made me want to fight for universal health care for years. He’s made me believe that answers to problems can be found by simply opening up to different ideas around the globe. He’s made me want to stand up to the rich and powerful. And now he’s made me want to try and personally make our country a better place by stopping the fascism that is rising. ‘Fahrenheit 11/9’ is one of the most important films of the year! And if you let yourself feel what it has to offer then you might want to take your country back as well. Bravo Mr. Moore!