Friday, July 15, 2005

A punch in the gut

Subject: Cinema
It's been around 15 years since I first saw Michael Moore's "Roger & Me" -- a documentary about the harsh abandonment of the manufacturing middle-class as illustrated by GM's abandonment of Flint, Michigan. The style, the methods, the combination of ironic humor with the stark drama of the situation -- it was something rather new and unique to the genre.

I remember leaving the theater feeling like I was punched in the stomach. Confrontation tends to do that with me.

Over the years, I happily watched Michael Moore's follow-on works, like his short-lived series "TV Nation" (totally awesome; I wonder if there's a DVD release?), and another series and a couple of other movies. Very strong wit mixed with a bit of seething outrage. Very smart stuff. But it never elicited the same kind of physical response in me. It never really hit me hard.

Then a couple of years ago, I bought the "Bowling With Columbine" disc. The whole event had sickened me and had me struggling to make sense of it. Then Moore came along and painted the whole hysteria in a different light. And showed some of the gritty details that I hadn't seen before.

And I felt like I was punched in the stomach. Ow. And though it's sitting on my shelf, I haven't been able to bring myself to watch it again.

So last year, when his "Farenheit 9/11" came out, I couldn't bring myself to go see it. I had pretty much read everything and every point that he was making in other alternative outlets. I literally subscribe to his newsletter. When he came out in support of Wes Clark, I was quite thrilled. But I couldn't bring myself to see what he did this time.

Until tonight, a year later.

In a way, now that all the hoopla over this film is over, it's almost kind of quaint. I may have very well read every little bit of back-n-forth about the film as it reverberated around the media, and I knew everything about what would happen ahead of time. But it still hurts to actually see some of that footage for myself. Particularly the shots of the guys and gals over there dealing with the reality of the situation. The sort of stuff that I read about, but never really see in the "normal" US media.

Yeah, Moore goes "over the top" with a lot of the "tin-foil-hat" conspiracy allegations. But you know what? He still has a point. There are still facts behind what he points out that go totally unquestioned. And you can imagine that if ex-President Clinton had these ties instead, that we'd probably have these beaten into our skulls 24x7. It just exposes the frustration and hypocrisy in the system. Which, from my historical reading, really isn't anything new or radical, but just more little bits of history repeating. (Cue the "Propellerheads"...)

So my gut has been punched yet again. And you wonder why I've spent the last year immersing myself in the escapist brain-candy of Japanese cartoons? *sigh*

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