Review: Fahrenheit 11/9—paralysing, but important16 November 2018
This movie was probably the most terrifying thing I’ve seen recently.
Admittedly I’m not usually a fan of horror movies, but Michael Moore’s most recent documentary, Fahrenheit 11/9, was something of a wake-up call for me. I like to generally consider myself politically aware and active, but this documentary demonstrates how desperately America needs genuine and effective action. It also shows how many seemingly insurmountable obstacles are in place even for those with the most genuine of intentions.
The documentary itself doesn’t focus on any one specific event; instead, it uses a series of events to demonstrate the abuses of power and what has been essentially ongoing betrayal of the American public. The election of Donald Trump, the water crisis in Flint, and the Parkland shooting were the three major axes of this film; and a word of warning, unmitigated footage from all of the above is shown. The section on Flint was particularly shocking to me; the multiple levels of corruption and participation in active cover up shouldn’t have been surprising, but they were.
I will admit, though, it’s important to question whether this kind of documentary helpful right now? I didn’t come away from this film feeling mobilised. I mostly came away from it feeling depressed and powerless, particularly after the final scene (no spoilers). It is important to know about the challenges we face if we are to overcome them; perhaps just in a way that is less apocalyptically presented. Importantly, too, I found that Michael Moore as the producer of the documentary can be difficult to swallow. Despite the fact that I enjoyed the documentary a lot, it’s very much presented from his perspective; namely that of a middle aged, cisgender, heterosexual white man, and his presence in the film often feels overbearing.
Overall, I’d say that this is a film that is worth a watch; not exactly date night viewing, but it does carry important weight and information.
An important note for all of you Aussies, though—or anyone who’s not from the U.S., really. Sometimes, for Australian viewers, it’s easy to watch media about the state of the U.S. and become complacent about the issues our own country faces. Let’s not forget that Scott Morrison, too, delights in committing horrendous acts of harm; he still keeps a “We Stopped the Boats” trophy in his office. Systemic, ongoing racism is a huge problem here too, particularly for Indigenous communities. Our country also perpetrates horrendous violations of basic human rights; just because we don’t have guns doesn’t mean all of the problems are fixed. Lessons that can be learned from this film are also applicable in an Australian context. As the new generation coming into political activity, we have to focus on creating and changing old systems that do not work for our increasingly diverse country. We too have responsibilities that we cannot allow to be overshadowed or obfuscated by the tragedies of other countries.