Fahrenheit 911 Art and Politics
Fahrenheit 911 Art and Politics
"The reason why I believe I've had this very fortunate success... is because I actually put the entertainment and the art before the politics," insists Mr Moore. "It's very hard for someone on the professional left to put anything ahead of the politics, and that's why they lose out.â€
As much as I know that Michael Mooreâ€™s heart is in the right place I cannot but squirm at his choice of terms to describe his latest work Fahrenheit 911.
And finally, of course, is it really necessary to ask all these questions- why not just sit back and enjoy the much deserved bashing of Bush Jr. that Fahrenheit 911 seems to be well and truly doing? (Well, I cannot because I am still waiting to get a pirated edition of the film here in
I think finding answers to all these questions are important simply because of the way all entertainment and art are so closely intertwined with politics in our world today. Political power in our age flows not just from any old barrel of the gun but one camouflaged by an entire cabaret of mass communicators- media hacks, musicians, movie artists and other assorted makers of modern myths.
Therefore at the risk of being dubbed precisely the kind of left-wing pedant that Moore looks down upon I am willing to stick my neck out (together with it my tongue too) to take a closer look at â€˜entertainmentâ€™, â€˜artâ€™, â€˜politicsâ€™ as well as the leftâ€™s alleged inability to bend or blend with the trend.
Firstly a few words about Fahrenheit 911. Going by its contents and the strong passions it is arousing in the
So why is
Surely he knows that prioritizing entertainment before politics is not necessarily a virtue on its own- for something can be profoundly entertaining while being totally wrong with its politics. (Terminator II for example, or for that matter Bush Jr too) In fact much of the modern entertainment industry is precisely all about keeping its audiences amused, tickled, titillated and completely clueless about the realities of the world we live in.
Sure, I can follow what
But is it all that easy and possible to always talk, write or wittily portray something like the horrors of the US invasion of Iraq, the potential threat to life on Earth from global warming or the decimation of sub-Saharan Africa by poverty, conflict and disease ? Or for that matter colorfully describe the devastation of low-income families by unemployment or the desperation of the elderly facing cutbacks in healthcare? Anyone who has been close witness to the predations of mindless war or endless want is not going to be able to speak about it for a long time, leave alone articulate their thoughts in artful terms. To expect people deeply involved with the problems of the world to always sport a smile and drop that scowl can be a bit unrealistic.
Having said that I would support
Yet again, it is unfortunately true that some on the left frequently come across as all too cold and cerebral for ordinary mortals to understand or empathize with (just as some on the right sing as badly as Ashcroft). There is indeed an urgent need for the left to put folks with specific names, faces and addresses back into their political equations. We need more physics and chemistry out there when it comes to mass movements of the left and less mathematics. For, accurate and useful as they may be, there has never been anything endearing about any calculator anywhere. (chchak, chchak, chchak,
But having emphasized the need to communicate effectively I would caution that in no way should this need supercede the necessity of always sticking to the facts or making as precise an analysis as possible in any given situation. For otherwise one ends up with a message that reaches large numbers of people but whose quality is so low that it should probably never have got out in the first place. If creative expression makes good politics palatable, then it is accurate content that makes it easily digestible (No simple recipes, I tell you, the truth is not always tasty).
As someone working in the field of mass communication I can easily remember the numerous temptations that members of my profession go through to sex up the facts, spice up a story with some song and dance or drown out those annoying details that come in the way of smooth delivery. By the time these guys finish tailoring their tale, it is as smart and slick as an Enron executive and equally incredible.
I am not sure if Moore does any of the above in his documentary (am still waiting for that damn DVD !) but putting â€˜entertainment above politicsâ€™ is sometimes code for taking liberties with the truth (â€˜if it makes the bad guys look bad go ahead and do itâ€™). While it may be true that God made Bush Jr. for all of us to take potshots at- simplifying the truth is unfortunately a game everyone can play and the guys with better resources and broadcast power will always win out in the long run (Though I admit November is not all that far away).
Fahrenheit 911 is really another example of how a lot of so-called â€˜cultural activityâ€™ these days is actually politics by proxy just as what is commonly called â€˜politicsâ€™ has more cultural content embedded in it than usually understood. It is this in this terrain of culture transformed into politics that
While no movie, however well done, can substitute for actual movements of people fighting for change, as Fahrenheit 911 shows it can certainly set the political Bush on fire. With some more public effort the goose may yet be cooked (Donâ€™t forget the curry spice ! Yummmmm !).
Now Dude, whereâ€™s my pirated DVD ?
Satya Sagar is a writer, video maker and journalist based in