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Monday · June 21 2004

Here's your libel, Mr. Moore.
Christopher Hitchens tears Michael Moore and Farenheit 9/11 a new one at Slate. Reading this won't cost you $9.

To describe this film as dishonest and demagogic would almost be to promote those terms to the level of respectability. To describe this film as a piece of crap would be to run the risk of a discourse that would never again rise above the excremental. To describe it as an exercise in facile crowd-pleasing would be too obvious. Fahrenheit 9/11 is a sinister exercise in moral frivolity, crudely disguised as an exercise in seriousness. It is also a spectacle of abject political cowardice masking itself as a demonstration of “dissenting” bravery.

And then again farther down

Some people soothingly say that one should relax about all this. It's only a movie. No biggie. It's no worse than the tomfoolery of Oliver Stone. It's kick-ass entertainment. It might even help get out “the youth vote.” Yeah, well, I have myself written and presented about a dozen low-budget made-for-TV documentaries, on subjects as various as Mother Teresa and Bill Clinton and the Cyprus crisis, and I also helped produce a slightly more polished one on Henry Kissinger that was shown in movie theaters. So I know, thanks, before you tell me, that a documentary must have a “POV” or point of view and that it must also impose a narrative line. But if you leave out absolutely everything that might give your “narrative” a problem and throw in any old rubbish that might support it, and you don't even care that one bit of that rubbish flatly contradicts the next bit, and you give no chance to those who might differ, then you have betrayed your craft. If you flatter and fawn upon your potential audience, I might add, you are patronizing them and insulting them. By the same token, if I write an article and I quote somebody and for space reasons put in an ellipsis like this (…), I swear on my children that I am not leaving out anything that, if quoted in full, would alter the original meaning or its significance. Those who violate this pact with readers or viewers are to be despised. At no point does Michael Moore make the smallest effort to be objective. At no moment does he pass up the chance of a cheap sneer or a jeer. He pitilessly focuses his camera, for minutes after he should have turned it off, on a distraught and bereaved mother whose grief we have already shared. (But then, this is the guy who thought it so clever and amusing to catch Charlton Heston, in Bowling for Columbine, at the onset of his senile dementia.) Such courage.

I only quoted the really fun and angry bits. If you want Hitchens' thorough supporting arguments, read the rest.

I'm way out of my league to have a clue which blowhard liberal (Moore or Hitchens) is making more shit up. It's like watching two drunk uncles wrestle each other in the driveway over whose wife is a bigger pain in the ass. They're embarrassing because they're family, and one of them is probably right, but, damn, if they don't give you a headache.

As for Moore's posturing over libel and malicious statements about his film, Jack Shafer, Slate's editor at large, debunks the claims of threatened countersuits and says, “Bring it on.”

Archived: Political » June 2004
What you had to say:
June 22 2004

wowee. that is really the first voice i've heard that was so incredibly negative. I mean, plenty of "grain of salt" type comments but jeez...
can't wait to see the film!

June 22 2004

Did you read the whole thing? He makes some very good points in between the verbal ass-whipping I took out of context here.

June 22 2004

no no, just your bits. no time!

June 22 2004

You guys know that Christopher Hitchens is both a great, smart writer and a disgruntled ex-liberal, right? He spends a lot of his column space attacking the liberal media (and responding to their attacks on him), like a smarter version of that woman from Florida whose name I refuse to even write. I mean, the guy has gone out of his way to slam Studs Terkel, for gosh sakes. Studs!

So he's as biased as Moore is. I'd be more moved by a critique from the real left.

June 22 2004

From everything I've read by Hitchens (and I tried to read a bunch last night before posting this to get an idea of his bias), he's a shit-stirrer. He'll go after anyone.

His critique is fun to read no matter who he is. The fact that he goes so out of his way to repeatedly bludgeon Moore is hilarious, considering Moore's absurd claims that he's going to go after people who malign his film.

It's like Michael Moore is on the playground and says, "If you step one toe over this line, I'm you, mister." Hitchens jumps across with both feet and says, "Ok. I'm here. What you got?"

June 22 2004

I got no respect for a man who'd go after Studs. STUDS for god's sake!

© 2004 Jason Keglovitz