“How the fuck did this happen?” asks Michael Moore in his latest documentary Fahrenheit 11/9.
Let’s be clear: ‘this’ is Trump and ‘happen’ is the current social, political, economic and moral climate that America is currently living in.
Moore asks a big and complex question. It may not seem complex to some because a simple argument is that some people are stupid. I mean, who in their right mind would elect a pussy-grabbing rich racist to be the President of the United States? It’s an odd one. But, in my opinion, Moore does a great job at taking on this challenge.
Primarily Fahrenheit 11/9 is about Trump but, contrary to the film’s trailer, Moore spirals onto other issues which interestingly some critics have found irrelevant… But this, to me, is Moore making his point – Trump is not a solo entity, and this is not a stand-alone issue where America had a bad day and elected this guy. No. We venture back to 9/11, the Reagan years, and Moore’s hometown of Flint to readdress how a whole town was, essentially, poisoned (and the politicians knew!). Moore also puts a spotlight back on the West Virginian teachers’ strike and has a sit down with some of the survivors from the Parkland shooting to show how all these seemingly ‘disconnected’’ events have paved the way to 2018 and sees the film end on gun-control activist Emma González. It’s powerful.
The documentary is also agonising in many ways as Moore reels off one corrupt act after another, but it’s all tied together with his sardonic and satirical humour. If you’re familiar with Moore’s films then you’ll be pleased to know that he’s still up to his old tricks of calling out the elites when it comes to social injustice, as well as standing up for communities that just don’t have a voice – like when he tapes up Wall St as a crime scene in Capitalism: A Love Story, and asks for banks to return people’s money. It’s still got that quintessential dark humour which is present throughout all of Moore’s films, resulting in an aggressive punch line that’s actually not funny at all. It’s brutal. He even calls out Obama for not doing enough to prevent Trump getting elected and his not-so-effective trip to Flint RE: the poisoned water – as much as that was quite painful to watch Moore comments in an interview with Dazed, “I love Obama and I voted for him twice. But as a filmmaker, I have to tell the truth” and it’s a harsh truth at that.
I have a feeling that the people who are not going to like Fahrenheit 11/9 are the people who will be affected by the uprising (yes, it’s very much under way) of pissed off young people, and if that’s the case Moore’s definitely done his job right. If you’re on the right side of the argument, Fahrenheit 11/9 will light a fire under your arse.