Articles: Moore’s Fahrenheit 9-11: There’s No Business Like Taking Care of Business….

“There’s no business like show business “a saying so old and so true that neither its authenticity nor reference have ever been questioned .How else can a boy from Michigan come out of his over grown backyard, poorly educated neighborhood, where people look at a place like New York as 'the rest of the world' and where watching the ball game ,in probably the only bar in town, is considered “an event”. How can someone from that background take the world by a violent storm and manage to get the attention of the world, better still of AMERICA and if you live in the world I live in you know that getting the attention of America means getting the attention of the world.

Yes, the MICHAEL MOORE experience confirms the old saying “there’s no business like show business “.Yet Michael Moore’s latest slam dunk Fahrenheit 9-11 managed to convey a different message and, may be ,change that old saying for ever. After watching Moore’s film all I could think of was “there’s no business like oil business!”. Of course there’s also war business but that is just there to protect and preferably boost the oil business.

" It's good for business and bad for people” a direct quote from one of the executives being interviewed in the film in a forum about the ‘reformation of Iraq’ and how the war guaranteed that one of America's biggest oil companies (Halperton) is indeed in business. Not to mention of course United defense and Carlyle Group all of which the Al-Saudis the Bushes and their business associated, some of whom also happen to be their cabinet members ,are a part of. So it’s bad for the people and that’s understandable; war has never been welcomed by the public even those who send their children out to fight it and believe their children are fighting for a cause and indeed they are. They are serving the personal and financial benefits of their leaders and their leaders' friends.

In a series of skillfully edited scenes from various archives and of interviews and shots Moore crafted himself the movie moves in three interrelated lanes:-

1-How George Bush stole the elections after what seemed like a set victory for Al Gore by steeling the Florida votes. From that comes the stomach cringing issue of racism and the Black-Asian representatives who could not find one senate to sign on so they can pass a bill. To bush’s unprecedented inauguration where his unpopularity meant not only raw egg stains on his car but also that he could not make that traditional walk to the white house. To his ranch in Texas where he spent most of his time before 9-11.Which makes way to lane number two.

2- The events of 9-11 and the attacks on the world trade centre and the pentagon (financial and defense headquarters) bringing to the spot light (once again after1993) Osama bin laden and Al- Qa'eda and most importantly the Bush family’s business relations with the Bin Laden’s and the Al Saud’s and how in the days and months to come war on terrorism whether in Afghanistan or Iraq was indeed just taking care of business . Even if it meant Mr.John Ashcroft's masterminded patriotic act and raising security alert from yellow to orange to red to yellow again to make sure you were scared enough not to ride your home gym stationary bike let alone a bus or lord forbid a plane. Even when it meant sending troops to Afghanistan when you know the place you really wanted to be was IRAQ. Which in turn brings us the films most prominent point.

3-The war on terrorism the war on Saddam on Iraq. Why? What’re you kidding! Weapons of mass destruction ,of course .Not good enough? Ok, links between Saddam Hussein and Al-Qaeda. No? Well as George Bush once put it; "that is the man that one day tried to kill my daddy." Does the man need a better reason? Of course they need to be in Iraq. There’s some unfinished business, some lives to take, some cities to ruin, some chaos to encourage and some oil to pump. Oh, and of course the liberation of Iraq . As we all may very well see Iraq now is a safer place to be. If that’s not taking care of business I don’t know what is. So, people are detained for no reason beaten up stripped off their clothes. Troops are being killed blown up kidnapped and slaughtered by the dozen by the ultra dominant militias everywhere in the country .Their charcoaled bodies are being hung by the city gates dragged by trucks throughout the cities. This is war for crying out loud! People die. American troops die to help Iraqis live a better life in a democratic war torn country and to protect other Americans thousands of miles away from weapons of mass destruction that are…. well yet to be found!!
Here Lila Lipscom was one of Moore’s main tools and he did steer that in all the right directions except maybe in one scene where she goes to the White House and has that argument with a woman who obviously saw reason for war. I think that scene could’ve been a lot stronger had that argument been more rounded. He also needed to ask Lila what she thought of sending her kids to the army after her son died and whether or not she thought it was a good option after what happened. The Iraqi lady scene was indeed moving he could’ve stressed that point a bit with more interviews with Iraqi families yet again that has to do with time limitations and the decisions a film maker makes.

Indeed Fahrenheit 9-11 was show business! Good controversy? Of course, debate provoking? Sure. Emotionally moving? Oh yes. But those scenes could be seen and heard all over the satellite channels.How many charcoaled bodies, severed limbs, blood splattered walls of dilapidated houses and hospitals , beheaded bodies Have you seen? how many Wailing mothers slapping themselves over their dead babies? How many explosions ?How many of those have we seen? The answer is; more than we actually like to think of .After all this is not Gulf War1 it’s not just CNN now these images are everywhere.

What makes Moore's documentary are not the war scenes , or the George Bush edits or the information and business connections between the Bushes and the Al-sauds as overwhelming as that all is .Information alone couldn’t have spurred the Fahrenheit 9-11 phenomenon. It is the context and the brilliant sequence in which Moore has crafted those two hours and how Moore used all those tools to serve a consistent screenpaly. The mood shifting between a proud Lila Lipscom sending her kids off to the military to a wailing Iraqi lady who’s had five funerals since the war started to an interview clip from a blond wigged Brittany Spears who tells us to “just trust our president” to a cowboy movie intro staring Bush and his Coilition. This is show business at it’s best and this is Moore living up to that Oscar speech.

What needs to be acknowledged as well is that it seems Moore has a very homogenous and equally enthusiastic team of editors producers and music coordinators that he brilliantly co-ordinates . It helps when you’re talented and have a cause. It helps more when you’re talented have a cause and have people who believe in it and are willing to help.But what helps the most is when you live in an environment that allows ,and in a lot of occasions encourages ,self criticism. It helps when you have an audience that want you to tell them what is wrong with them and their system .This brings me to one of my takes on the film.

It never ceases to amaze me that in the very environment of free speech ,the right to self expression and an astoundingly powerful media industry that the American public lack awareness and when I say that I mean awareness not only of the outside world but of internal affairs as well .Ask any average Arab and he or she will tell you that there has always been business between America and Saudi . It took two gulf wars, the 9-11 attacks and most effective of all Moore’s film to get the American Public to realize what is happening in the “real” world and why “ those people hate us so much” as the media continues to address the anti –American notions in the world. Whose fault is it that the average American is so ignorant of foreign affairs and political traumas? Is it the media? Do they enjoy feeding the public anything but the truth ?Is American Media all icing and no cake? Do they need more Michael Moores?

Yes, they have freedom of speech and self criticism and the right to self expression but what do these privileges really serve ?I heard this a million times and am thinking that I will hear it again there’s nowhere else in the world where you can have anti-president rallies where you can actually say NO and get away with it. True ,very true but lets examine this; freedom of speech, the abundance of information ,the right to say NO have been established in the United States of America for so long. How have the Bushes managed to stay in business? How have they been able to (until very recently) get away with neglecting intelligence that notified the governments with possible attacks ,send troops to Iraq for a war they hardly understood the wisdom behind, cost the American people billions of dollars to finance that war ? In conclusion, how is it in a country that is able to let someone like Moore make a film like Fahrenheit 9-11 and indeed get away with it ,do we find a public so in the dark in terms of what the scheme of things are in their own country and the rest of the world?

Like I said, Michael Moore’s film was eye opening and moving in the way he put it all together but what shocked me is how shocking it was to the American public to find out only from Moore’s film what’s been under their noses and on their T.V. screens for a long time. While Fahrenheit 9-11 once again sheds the light on the freedom of speech America is privileged with it also highlights the astonishing lack of awareness that the average American suffers.
I guess we all need to thank Michael Moore. The American public have him to thank for showing what they were long blindfolded from .And we (people of the middle east) need to thank him for telling us what we know and wouldn’t dare say .

(This article was written, 23rd – June - 2004, and was published in Gulf Times. A Qatari English News Paper)