THE TEMPERATURE'S RISING - 2004
I was quite impressed to receive a personal invite to the Melbourne
premier screening of Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11. Does that
mean I'm on the A list, I thought? What'll I wear to the Kino, I
wondered. Well, I settled for the Levis jeans, my good jacket and
that pair of Italian leather shoes I bought in Bondi ten years ago.
'Don't you clap too loud,' Ron Barassi had said with a laugh as
he eyed my glass of red and asked for directions to the bar. Cuddled
up in front of me were footballer Clint Bizzell and the girl who
reads the weekend news on Seven. I don't think they saw much of
the film. Only joking!
Santo Cilauro, Tim Costello and Dave Hughes were there. So too
was Lillian Frank. I'm not sure whose side she was on? Can't imagine
someone from Toorak agreeing with Moore's view on Iraq? Do people
from Toorak approve of people saying it's the poor who fight wars
so they can be rich?
That's what surprised me about Moore's film. I've kind of given
up on American filmmakers having a class view of the world. But
sure enough this is one filmmaker who isn't scared to say what trade
unionists in Australia said in 1916 and in the 1970s. When Moore
wandered up to a couple of Congressmen and asked whether these stay-at-home
patriots might ask their children to give their lives for the country
the contempt was as palpable as the embarrassment.
What we see is a president who at one level is a dead-set dill,
yet acts with duplicity and arrogance. Who else but the president
of the USA would chortle 'you're what I like to call the haves and
the have mores, you're my base' when addressing a gathering of the
filthy rich? In Moore's eyes Iraq is a dirty war, where as usual
the poor and the ordinary have and will suffer. It's not the rich
who are being slaughtered in Iraq. Nor is it rich Americans who
are losing their children. As always it's just the ordinary punters
who are doing most of the crying.
Michael Moore doesn't simply ridicule George Bush. Yes, he does
resort to some cheap shots with a bumbling president whose eyes
dart deceitfully across the horizon. However the satire is far less
significant than the analysis of the links between the Saudis and
Bush's family and business mates and the real purpose of this war.
Why was Bin Laden's family at least asked a few questions before
they left the USA in the days after September 11, asks Moore? Listening
to a business gathering discuss how much money there is to be made
in Iraq is quite chilling. Why is it that some people will do anything,
including turn their back on the slaughter of children, to live
in absolute luxury?
Yet Moore doesn't dwell on the slaughter in Iraq. It's not a film
that over plays the emotional card. Nevertheless, we're reminded
of how awful are wars. For those stay-at-home patriots on the left
in Australia who've defended this war as a strike against fascism,
Moore's film offers no solace. As this quirky filmmaker shows, this
war hasn't and won't liberate Iraq, either by design or default.
It's just one more military excursion designed to protect the economic
interests of one sector of the world. I'm surprised that a filmmaker
in the USA can be so bold. If only we could muster this level of