Fool Me Twice, That's What They Say in Tennessee 

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

On the request of my glorious French friend Lily, I swore my way past bad drivers and interminable red lights to see Fahrenheit 9/11.

I had planned to see it sometime. I wasn't sure when. Perhaps at Christmas with my very excellent friends in Chicago. They were after all, the people who sat me down as soon as I arrived in Japan and forced me to watching Bowling for Columbine. They were also the people who took me to Tokyo's American Embassy for a visit on the day the invasion of Iraq began.

I already knew the content of Fahrenheit 9/11. Though I stopped watching TV a month after the invasion I was still with it. I read many of the same papers as Michael Moore and all other liberal-minded folks. I underlined telling quotes in newspapers. If I ever forgot anything, my friends (all liberal-minded folks) reminded me.

When Lily insisted last night I watch Fahrenheit 9/11, I did a huge detour of my Tuesday plans and ran off to the theatre.

My observations:

  • The theatre, for an afternoon showing, was full. Me, alone, looking for a single seat almost failed.

  • Three old coots walked out of the theatre and never returned.

  • When the lights came on, most of the crowd was old. They looked like the exact same people in my neighbourhood. The people in my neighbourhood voted Conservative. The Conservatives in Canada are wistful about joining this Iraq nonsense. So what are these old people doing watching a movie that condemns their ideals? (Don't give me any of that stuff about old people not working. The mall was pretty full of young shoppers.)

  • George Bush was actually cute when he was young. No, this does not mean he is my new crush. Down with Bush!

  • Colin Powell has similar features to my grandmother. As my grandmother (a Russian/German/Jew) ages, she's been mistaken for First Nations and for a Taiwanese by a Taipei street meat peddler. Powell's mouth is very grandmaesque.

  • The scene with the Marine recruiters in the mall parking lots: religious cults sometimes use the same methods to recruit. If the circumference of my neck matched that of my waist, I might pass for a Marine, and I could try recruiting people into the Marines too. Just for fun.

  • Life must be so boring people wish it was like the movies. I am talking about the part in Fahrenheit 9/11 when the soldiers discuss playing music while "working." Just like Panama and "Welcome to the Jungle," the soldiers in Iraq have their own anthem and a soundtrack to their lives.

  • The World Trade Centre towers attack looked like a movie and many people (including yours truly at that time) had to do a double take. Being off this continent at the time, I was stuck with the emergency news without a soundtrack. Fahrenheit 9/11 had a nifty little scene, all black, you couldn't see anything, where Moore recreated the sounds of the planes crashing into the towers.

  • Most critics could identify with the grieving mother, Lila Lipscomb. I found myself siding with the injured Iraqi kids. Didn't anyone else find that really, really sad?

  • Moore and I both agree about Britney. She is the total sum of brainless plus bimbo.

  • Sure Bush seems like a grand idiot in many parts of the movie. He sure has made a name for himself messing up the English language and not knowing who Musharraf is. My friend Bev has a theory. It's very beneficial to Bush or whoever is puppeteering him. If Bush looks like a moron, anything he does can be attributed to his stupidity. That gives him a carte blanche to do anything.

  • Michael Moore pointed out how Bush spent a heck of a lot of time vacationing during his first year in office. Actually, he was criticized for the same thing while the mess with the Florida ballots played itself out. Surely this is some evidence that he is not running the show.

  • Some critics and politicians commented on how Michael Moore is a better film editor than a filmmaker. I agree that he is a great editor, at least. Just the piles of material he would have had to deal with - last year I was so disgusted I just turned off my TV in anger and never turned it on again. I counted one instance where he was just playing; he attached a series of Bushes repeating Saddam and Bin Laden together. Moore was trying to make the transition that Bush made from Bin Laden as the criminal mastermind to Saddam as the criminal mastermind. It didn't work for me.

  • I wanted to do something after watching this movie. Moore suggested, at the end of his movie, that I visit his site for advice. The one thing I thought I could do was to send books to some US soldiers. I envisioned myself converting some poor redneck from a sad honkytonk to the joys of Charlotte Bronte. Alas, all of them want Maxim, the Sports Illustrated Bikini issue and gun magazines (so much for escapist reading). The more literary among them want Clancy novels. One Marine wanted a copy of the Iliad and the Odyssey. I might give away my copy of the Aeneid, but it's full of violence and he looks like he's well taken care of by the Classical crowd. Finally I found him. A Japanese-American guy at a hospital. And it seems as if crossword puzzles will do. I happen to be a bigger crossword fan than a crossword completer. So Mr. Nishimura can have my crossword stash. The only problem: what the hell kind of address is 111 Corp 31st. CSH Camp Anaconda APO AE 09391-1275?!

In the end, history repeats itself over and over. Money is at the crux of it all. The rest of us, the middle and lower classes, we're just the minions who do the bidding of the upper crust. I don't think we'll ever learn no matter where we are in the hierarchy. If someone means well they either end up like sucker chimps or else like Allende in Chile.

One of my university professors, Dr. Robert Chen, wrote about the cyclical story in myth, how its repetition comforts humanity - in its earliest uses it reassured Iron Age man that there will be a spring after winter. Seen in the Persephone myth and the Christ myth/history, this is the literary equivalent of seeing the glass half full.

Eternal truths can be boring after a while so alongside the cyclical story is the heroic story: a hero disrupts the recurring events with something out of the ordinary. Like Beowulf slaying Grendel, this manages to disrupt the cyclical, until the hero sets it all right. The implication is that, after upheaval, there is a happily ever after and the implication is that it includes a return to the cyclical.

For nearly half of Americans, their president is some sort of God and a hero to boot. To these people he is part of some heroic epic, leading them to a happy ending. He might, however, just be part of the cyclical, the Hades who kidnaps Persephone and unleashes the cycle of winter, the Judas required for the betrayal of Jesus required for the renewal of humanity. This means he will fall only to be replaced by another Hades.

We haven't learned a single lesson from the Holocaust or World War One. As the old saying goes, we're doomed to repeat history if we don't learn it. Which reminds me, Jesus was considered a crackpot in his day.

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