Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 11/9

With the United States 2020 election nearing, the democratic and republican conventions behind us, and Donald Trump grubbing to get re-elected at any cost, what better flick to explore than the highly acclaimed compelling yet controversial documentary Fahrenheit 11/9 by Academy Award Winning American filmmaker Michael Moore. This feature is a scathing report on America’s eroding democracy and how such cracks in the USA’s egalitarian system led to the raise of Donald Trump; whom Moore portrays as an unethical narcissistic misogynistic despotic tyrant with serious autocratic and incestuous tendencies. This fascinating film (whose name was derived from the day after election day 11.08.16 when the grim reality sunk in that Donald Trump was indeed POTUS), smartly enjoyed its world premiere in friendly territory. At Canada’s Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) September 6th, 2018.

Michael Moore opens the film by effectively discrediting Donald Trump, and instantly hooks viewers via delving into how a Trump presidency came to fruition. Trump is depicted as a complete wag who made a name for himself in real estate, then entertainment, with deeply embedded roots of depravity and wickedness thrown in for good measure. But the film stops just short of delivering a completely devastating blow to Trump’s presidency as audiences initially expect given the documentary’s crushing lead-in (though one can only image the way Moore would have spun this doc in today’s world with the way Trump has handled the Covid-19 crisis and BLM). Instead this film is much more than just a rebuke of Donald Trump. It’s a scolding take-down of what Michael Moore believes are the ultimate failures of America that allowed for someone like Donald Trump to reach the White House in the first place. You guessed it. Michael Moore is mad as hell! No veiled emotions here. Moore is actually more than mad – he’s red hot and totally pissed off at the state his country is in. Moore doesn’t hold back on his deep-seated resentment on any front. He beats up a lot on Donald Trump, but he takes swipes at other politicians/government/corporations… as well, rounding out his disdain for those in power who wield their authority and influence with unabashed recklessness. As a result, this film branches out in several directions tackling many of America’s problems at once, not just the prop at the top. Though despite its frequent detours the film never strays too far from the main message – constantly circling back to remind us that ‘the fish rots from the head’ (aka bad leaders cause severe damage all the way down the line) – and don’t you forget it!

Moore is clearly frustrated with so many of the ills the USA is facing from racism, gun violence, polluted water in his hometown of Flint Michigan (a particularly sore spot for Moore and rightly so), to name a few. Who can blame him. The recent Black Lives Matter rallies/protests that continue to sweep the nation speak clearly of the ongoing racism the USA is trying to tackle. Similarly, a quick glance at the country’s gun violence stats paints a very grim picture of an out-of-control issue (Gun violence in the United States results in tens of thousands of deaths and injuries annually. The rate of firearm deaths per 100,000 people rose from 10.3 per 100,000 in 1999 to 12 per 100,000 in 2017, with 109 people dying per day – a number that has most certainly increased in the last 3 years). Not to mention the catastrophic Flint Michigan water crisis that began in 2014 with numerous studies showing high levels of lead contamination in the civic water supply, which any doctor will tell you has irreversible lifelong negative effects especially for children (e.g. lead exposure/poising can damage children’s brains and nervous systems, lead to slow growth and development, and result in learning, behavior, hearing, and speech problems). Yet despite the awfulness of all these pressing concerns that Moore forcefully brings to the forefront – they are all still happening. Fahrenheit 11/9 does jump around a bit from topic to topic but Moore’s passionate willingness to brazen out these serious issues helps to carry the documentary and keeps audiences enthralled until the end.

The reality is Michael Moore could have produced stand-alone documentaries on each of these troubling topics, and maybe he should at some point. But he didn’t because the overall message he’s trying to convey is that a common thread runs throughout all of America’s problems. Corruption! Each crisis is solidly built on a duplicitous foundation – often delivered via political trial balloons (divisive dogma purposely leaked to the media in order to observe audience reactions).  Right vs. Wrong – beware of the plethora of self-serving doctrine related intentions for they are like a cancerous mass that takes over unless removed. Moore ends the piece with an extremely dire warning not to fall into the conspiracy trap (perfect for simple minded thinking) with a damning visual of Nazis marching on. The take-away message is that America is at risk of losing its way and should steadfastly guard the concept of fairness as well as their dream of democracy, or rather their attempts to achieve it. A goal all democratic-minded countries should aspire to. Peter Eigen said it best, “People should be conscious that they can change a corrupt system”. Namely by not allowing the powers that be to dismantle institutional checks and balances. In short, all three branches of government (executive, legislative, judiciary) fail without the ‘fourth estate’ (independent news broadcasting) so protect freedom of the press, and resist any attempts by government to immobilize the media into a feeble ‘fourth branch’ (regime dependent news). It’s democracy’s only chance. This is exactly what Michael Moore wants citizens to remember and why all countries need journalists like Michael Moore (personal preferences aside) who are not afraid to speak truth to power.

P.S. I once stayed at Trump’s now closed Trump Plaza Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City when I was 21 years old and saw him and then wife Ivana as they monitored their lavish investment. Although it appears Trump made a lot of money from his Atlantic City Boardwalk endeavors others suffered miserably at his hands as stated by Steven P. Perskie (New Jersey’s top casino regulator in the early 90s) who said, “He {Trump} put a number of local contractors and suppliers out of business when he didn’t pay them.” Trump’s AC hotel/casino very much resembled the décor of his glided Trump Tower in New York City – gawdy over-the-top gold and crystal. Speaking of which, while attending trainings for work in NYC the summer of 2017 both of my children visited me in the Big Apple during the month of August, at which time I took my son Oje to see Michael Moore’s Limited Engagement Broadway Show entitled The Terms of My Surrender. The show centered on Donald Trump’s presidency and his dangerous incompetence to lead America. Unbeknownst to us Oje would end up partaking in Moore’s hit Broadway Show when Moore invited Oje on stage to engage in a competition against a seasoned American Professor – old wise owl vs. young playful pup, Canadian vs American… Oje, casually dressed, donning his long hair, baseball cap and flip flops surprised the near sold out crowd (me excluded) by blowing away his competitor beating him three times over. Needless to say, Michael Moore was very impressed with Oje’s highly intellectual performance. But Moore was even more impressed with how Oje humbly conducted himself as a true gentleman and how respectful he treated his opponent and Moore himself, – ‘a tremendous Ambassador of Canada’– as Michael Moore put it. What a fantastic night and what an incredible show! Interesting that Donald Trump commented, “I must point out that the Sloppy Michael Moore Show on Broadway was a TOTAL BOMB…” Oh contraire POTUS, this show was absolutely off the charts fabulous and I should know. I was there! So much so, we would love to bring this performance to Calgary for our Owen Hart Foundation High Profile Event if Michael Moore ever decides to take it on the road. I was personally amazed by Michael Moore’s astonishingly impressive life story and dedication/love of his country. On this point, I will leave you with a frightening exchange I had with a colleague who works in Washington D.C. while we both attended a training at Berkeley University last year. I asked him his opinion about the state of America with Donald Trump as leader and he said something that shook me to my core – “It appears that Americans don’t want a democracy anymore.” I sure hope this isn’t true. At any rate November 3rd 2020 will be an interesting day to say the least. I still have all my Hillary Clinton For President buttons from 2016 and I’m still sad she didn’t win. I admit I would love to see a woman in the oval office someday. But VP would be a good start too.

Oje takes Broadway in NYC with Michael Moore at his The Terms of My Surrender hit show

6 thoughts on “Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 11/9

  1. First off, I love Michael Moore documentaries! I went and looked and saw this movie is on YouTube but I’m just not gonna be able to stomach watching it. I’m living it and it is a nightmare.

    My favorite Moore documentary is Bowling for Columbine where he delves into our gun problem and it truly is a terrific watch.

    I never really cared about politics until the 2016 election and truthfully even though people saw what would happen if trump was elected, I never would’ve thought it would come to this. The Republican Party is no more, it is Trumpism.

    As you said about Moore being able to make stand alone documentaries about troubling topics. There’s like 5 new scandals a day that there could be films about. It’s unbelievable. He gets held accountable for nothing. Just lies and spews out baseless nonsense and gets away with it. I mean last night was the last night of the RNC and he literally lied or spread misinformation about everything.

    About the exchange you had with your colleague, I would say it’s not that we don’t want a democracy it’s just that the people that will vote for him don’t see it that way nor just don’t care. But yes we are heading towards a dictatorship and I can’t believe I’m saying that. All we can do is vote him out. I live in Florida and we are a very important swing state and we must turn blue. Otherwise I might have to try to cross the border to Canada! Haha save us Dr. Hart.

    On a lighter note that’s cool that your son got to go on stage and be a part of the show! Also, when you stayed at the now closed Trump’s plaza hotel (great business man right?) was that during Wrestlemania 5 weekend? Anyways, another great review. Maybe I’ll check it out if we correct our mistake on Nov. 3rd.

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    1. You said it Christopher. Michael Moore is the best at fleshing out controversial issues. We are all very worried about threats to democracy and of course as neighbors of America, Canadians are particularly worried about the direction the USA is taking in that regard. Thanks for your thoughtful comments as always and be sure to get out and vote!

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  2. I thought this was about the Bush one he made years ago when I first saw your post, but I realized I was mistaken. I have zero interest in this documentary, sorry, but I do enjoy reading your posts on movies. Thanks for sharing your stories about staying at Trump’s hotel & Oje being invited on stage.

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