Wednesday, July 07, 2004

"Filthy" on "Farenheit"

I used to get naughty pleasure out of The Filthy Critic's film reviews, partly because he's got that sophomoric sense of humor that men, whatever age, never outgrow; partly because he couples it with real insight most of the time. But mostly because he hates almost everything, and a bad review from a good writer is always a rip-roaring ride (e.g. Lileks' books).

But I got out of the habit of checking in on him, probably when I stopped being entertainment editor at the newspaper and lost track of all the new releases. It's been so long since I checked in there that I hadn't noticed how he and I are now on opposite sides politically.

By "now," I mean "since 9/11." I go back to someone I had identified with, and find he's on the other side. That's how I know at least how long it's been since I last was there. Like a burn-mark in the tree rings, you can date other events by it.

Sullivan's Daily Dish has a link back to Filthy's review of Moore's propaganda piece. And even moreso than Krugman or Gitlin, he sees through the cheap juggling act. But unlike those vaunted academics, the online movie critic doesn't pass over all that intellectual dishonesty in his rush to anoint the man a god.

The problem with Moore's approach isn't what he presents, or even what he believes. Although, I think his approach of just piling on whatever he thinks smokes like a gun is lazy and disservices any focused attack. My real problem with the approach is what he leaves out. It's obvious even to me -- a guy who gets his political news from "Peanuts" reprints (and only the color ones on Sunday) -- that he ignores all facts and evidence that might counter the argument he's determined to make. The result is propaganda for people who already agree with him, but won't change the minds of anyone whose mind you'd want to change. The people who disagree will continue to disagree, because Moore does nothing to counter their arguments. The movie would be a shitload more effective if it were focused on disproving conservative myths instead of creating a whole slew of liberal ones via implication.

That's what I'd like to see. A movie that doesn't pander to the NPR totebag crowds shuttling edamame home to their mud-compact homes in V-4 Saabs. One that has an answer every time the SUV-driving, fried-children-eating, baby-seal-beating Republicans say "But what about ..." Instead we get a movie meant to make liberals feel good about themselves.

Now if I hear one more jackass say "Everyone should see this movie," I'm gonna kick him (or her) in the nuts. What they mean is, "Everyone should see this because I'm right and you should be forced to agree with me. Oh yeah, and I'm an asshole." Sure, everyone should see this, and everyone should read Bill O'Reilly's books too. You're a pompous ass if you think everyone should see it just because its what you believe. Only people who want to should see it. And they should see it as part of a much larger curriculum. You should know enough to make up your own mind, not let Michael Moore do it for you.

Mind you, this is someone who agrees with Moore and Gitlin and Krugman about Bush. But he's honest enough to call a charade a charade and report that it doesn't help his cause and may hurt it. Sometimes the man who grabs the most attention for a faction is more interested in the attention than in the fight. Yeats wrote a whole poem about the wise leader who won't put his cause about the honest values that sustain it -- a whole poem of two lines:

Parnell came down the road, he said to a cheering man:
'Ireland shall get her freedom and you still break stone.'

Filthy'd probably have to stop writing "fuck" if he wanted to make the New York Times op-ed page, but I'd sure rather read his brand of honest analysis than what's there today.