Fahrenhype 9/11 (2004) / Documentary
MPAA Rated: Not rated, but probably PG for some adult themes
Running Time: 75 min.
Cast: Dick Morris (narrator), Ron Silver, Ed Koch, Ann Coulter, Zell Miller, David Frum, Bill Sammon, Frank Gaffney
Director: Alan Peterson
Review published October 12, 2004
Fahrenhype 9/11 is the rebuttal by some American conservatives to the incendiary documentary by liberal Michael Moore, Fahrenheit 9/11, and it offers an alternative for those viewers who might feel swayed by Moore's propagandist style with some propaganda of its own. Directed by Alan Peterson, this documentary seeks to discredit several arguments pushed forward by Moore during the course of his widely publicized and attended film, and while it does offer some occasional food for thought, in the end, it becomes little more than an infomercial for conservative thinking, essentially calling for those who disagree with Bush and his foreign policies to keep their mouths shut or be labeled as un-American.
The movie starts off with a quote from Moore claiming that "there is no terrorist threat." It's a nice quote to discredit Moore, as there obviously is a huge terrorist problem throughout the world. The movie also claims that Moore is trivializing the death of the 3,000 men and women who died on 9/11 by saying that it is insignificant. Taken out of context, these statements look completely insensitive by the controversial filmmaker, and will probably enrage any who see them without knowing the reasons behind the words. Those who have seen Fahrenheit 9/11 will know that Moore is talking about what he feels is the irrational fear that has overrun the country, as well as the overreaching law enforcement tactics that have been taken in the aftermath of the national tragedy.
That's not exactly what makes Fahrenhype 9/11 a mediocre documentary in the end, as what the makers of this film are doing aren't much different than the tactics taken by Moore in taking a little truth and intentionally twisting it to serve their own ends in delivering an ultimate message. The difference is that Moore's film is also funny, engaging and full of interesting ideas and points of view, even though it frequently encroaches into areas that are more for emotional impact than for factual information.
For the first thirty minutes, Fahrenhype manages to make some headway into painting Moore as a knee-jerk liberal with an agenda, and when it stays on target, it's an interesting and informative answer to Moore's claims. Then it strays into territory that ultimately sinks it -- the creators claim that Moore uses sound bytes out of context, distorts the facts, is a propagandist who doesn't show the full story -- and then they do the exact same thing in turn. Is this Fahrenhype or Fahrenhypocritical?
The last third of the film is a feel-good message for those who may have had their doubts as to the rightness of American foreign policy in all matters, characterized by an unapologetic stance toward jingoistic attitudes in how we conduct our interests overseas. One after the other, we see the conservative pundits and rogue Democrats lay the smackdown on Moore for daring to insult the men and women serving overseas by exploiting their memories for his own purposes, and then wrapping themselves up in the American flag to paint a picture of our political interests as motivated by nothing but the noblest intentions, and innocent people who get in our path in the pursuits of evildoers are just unfortunate casualties of war.
Fahrenhype 9/11 serves its purpose by offering conservatives some arguments to counter Moore supporters and liberals with, and to try to make them feel like they are on the path of the enlightened. Just like Moore, Peterson has delivered a one-sided argument, seeking to paint a rosy-colored picture on President Bush and the Iraq War, while proclaiming Moore as a disgrace to the nation who pushes forward nothing but anti-American sentiments in his films. Had the creators of this film stayed on point and focused on Moore's documentary, instead of pulling on heart strings and coating everything with unabashed chauvinism, perhaps it might actually sway some opinions for those viewers looking for factual evidence as to why Bush's agenda is the right one. Sure, Moore pulls the same shenanigans, but at least he can be funny, entertaining, heartbreaking, and often erudite in the process. The ultimate irony is that those who champion Fahrenhype 9/11 as a great documentary to refute all of Moore's claims are the very people who probably have made a pledge to never watch Fahrenheit 9/11 to begin with.
©2004 Vince Leo