all accounts, Michael Moore's new documentary,
"Fahrenheit 9/11," figures to have an even bigger
impact than his previous efforts, including "Roger
and Me" and "Bowling for Columbine." It is supposed
to examine the ties that exist between the Bush
family and the bin Ladens, and takes a close look
at some of the events that occurred on 9/11 and
in the weeks subsequent.
you are wondering why the greatest crime committed
against Americans since 1941 has gone so long
with little or no examination by the government
or the media (even Pearl Harbor had four different
congressional investigations going in the year
following), you are not alone. Millions of people
are wondering the same thing. Conspiracy theories
proliferate, and while many are as loony-sounding
as one expects, there's dozens of very pertinent
questions that have never been answered satisfactorily,
or even properly asked. Why didn't NORAD scramble
that morning? Why did Putsch behave so oddly (imagine
FDR going on the air, as he sometimes did on Sunday
mornings, to read comics, after hearing about
Pearl Harbor and before meeting with advisors
to consider options) that morning? Why, exactly,
did the Towers collapse? Why did the relatively
unscathed building seven collapse hours later?
Why do the photos from the Pentagon wreck show
absolutely no evidence that a large commercial
airliner struck the building? If that flight didn't
hit the Pentagon, where did it go? Why did the
bin Ladens get government provided flights out
of America when every other private plane in the
country was grounded?
wasn't about to answer even that short list in
just two hours, but his documentary probably has
the sort of impact needed to rouse Americans from
their lethargy and to start demanding answers.
documentary is completed, and is to be the premiere
showing at Cannes next week. It's the first time
they've ever led with a documentary, although
Moore keeps breaking through barriers. "Bowling
for Columbine" not only won Cannes two years ago,
but became the biggest-grossing documentary in
history, not only in the US, but in Canada, Britain,
was every reason to believe that "Fahrenheit 9/11,"
which cost $6 million to make (compare with the
average movie production budget of $80 million)
would be both a commercial and critical success.
A huge success.
signed a contract with Miramax, the mostly autonomous
daughter corporation of Disney. Miramax spent
the money for the production of the film, and
set the release date, later this month.
Eisner, the besieged CEO of Disney, fresh off
a board fight in which he barely survived, and
in the middle of a messy catfight with Pixar Studios,
the animation people responsible for some of Disney's
biggest recent hits, was reportedly furious that
Miramax had signed Moore. This according to Moore.
But there wasn't anything Eisner could do, legally.
Disney had the right to veto a Miramax distribution
contract only under two circumstances: if the
movie was running severely over budget (and it
was "in the can" as mentioned, for about $6 million,
on budget) or if it was rated NC-17 (Moore expects
it to be rated either PG-13 or perhaps R).
to Moore, Miramax assured him that Eisner's opinion
would not translate into the project being stopped,
and the project continued right up until May 3rd,
when Disney announced it was stopping distribution
of the film. The reason given by Disney was "Disney
caters to families of all political stripes and
that many of them might be alienated by the film."
distributes Sean Hannity. As a liberal, I consider
the man to be a right wing pig and a vicious demagogue,
and I'm certainly alienated by him. So how about
it, Disney? Isn't "liberal" a political stripe?
isn't exactly the first time something like this
has happened to Moore. Back in October, 2001,
Harper-Collins decided that criticism of the president
was "inappropriate," and announced it wasn't going
to distribute "Stupid White Men." The resulting
wave of outrage and publicity assured the book
would find a new distributor, and it went on to
become the best non-fiction seller of the year,
staying in the top ten for almost a full year.
It was markedly more successful than any of Moore's
previous efforts, and moved him from the ranks
of minor celebrity with a cult following to something
approaching a national icon.
it isn't unreasonable to ask if this incident
isn't, in some way, staged. My first thought when
I head that Disney wasn't going to distribute
the movie was, "Mike, you lucky sumbitch! How
many people have lightning strike twice like that?"
you have to wonder if the whole thing was set
up. Moore does like to promote himself, and isn't
adverse to taking a little corporate mistreatment
in order to gain some publicity. But the problem
is that Eisner was, until recently, considered
the smartest marketing genius CEO around, and
it's hard to imagine him waiting until interest
in the new film was already at a fever pitch and
then giving a capricious reason for undercutting
it -- unless, of course, either Disney was in
on the scam, or he really is that stupid.
agent, Ari Emanuel, says Eisner wanted to pull
out of the deal last spring, saying it might endanger
lucrative tax breaks Disney receives for its theme
park, hotels and so on in Florida, where Bushco
brother Jebediah is the governor. If so, why didn't
he act then, and minimize the damage?
That messy proxy fight. Now this. OK, so maybe
Eisner IS that stupid and arrogant.
will get a distributor, and hopefully the movie
will come out, not next week, but in late September,
when it will maximize damage to the Putsch campaign,
assuming Putsch hasn't been impeached by then.
Senator Frank Lautenberg put his finger on the
real big issue here when he noted "a disturbing
pattern of politically based corporate censorship
of the news media and the entertainment industry."
wingers have this notion that the constitution
only forbids the government from stepping on people's
rights, but that anyone else, corporations in
particular, can overrule those same rights just
by arguing that their own rights take precedence.
Thus they prattle on about Disney's "right" not
to distribute Moore's film. And Disney WOULD have
such a right had Miramax not already signed a
contract with Moore to distribute it.
corporation uber alles mentality of the right
would be just another crackpot idiocy that makes
up so much of the right's charm if it were not
for the fact that they: a) want to privatize everything
except the military and b) control the White House
and Congress. They have absolutely no problem
with a handful of corporations controlling everything
Americans get to hear and see in the mass media.
Tyranny is fine, so long as it's privatized. The
notion that the government exists to protect the
rights of the people from the depredations of
the corporations (known as "the aristocracy" back
in the 1780s) and big religion (known as "the
church" back then) is totally foreign to them.
provides a prime example of what's wrong here.
Either through fear of economic reprisals from
the right, or out of simple corporate cowardice,
Disney let the American people down, and showed
that it is, in the end, just a vast enterprise
that started with a mouse and, vast as it has
become, is still nothing more than an enterprise
designed to entertain kids and draw money from
their parents. Disney has absolutely no business
playing a major role in the national media (it
owns ABC and all their cable affiliates, along
with Miramax and a myriad other news and entertainment
venues). A company that is too cowardly to let
the American people decide for themselves the
merits of Moore's film (Eisner has not seen it,
incidently) has no business playing any serious
role in the realm of information for adults.
should sell off their news appendages, and go
back to enticing kids into nagging their parents
to spend too much for cheap toys and animated
movies. They don't belong in the grown up world.
Posted: May 10, 2004