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Beyond Good And Evil, Straight To Annoying: A Few Thoughts on Michael Moore

Oh, good, Michael Moore is back. With a movie about capitalism! Apparently he calls it “evil?” Yeah. I know.

Now: It’s not as if I haven’t been fucked over by capitalism myself, in this past year. Like a lot of people, I totally have. And it’s not as if I am not sympathetic to radical critiques of the system. But oh, for the love of God, I do not want Michael Fucking Moore to set the terms of this conversation.

Sooner or later, I think, progressives are going to have to deal with the legacy of progressive media during the Bush administration. Like, Bush was pretty unequivocally a bad president, right? He did a lot of bad stuff. I know I didn’t like him. But then, all of this progressive media arose in response to him – Air America, a bunch of blogs, a resurgence in the popularity of one Michael Moore – and that stuff, well-intentioned as it may have been, was often more interested in rabble-rousing and Republican-bashing and getting people angry than it was with analyzing the issues. In a time of crisis, that language felt right; you don’t have time for nuance, you just need to get people in the mood to take action. And it worked, too: I’ve met several people who left the conservative fold and began to speak about Bush in ways that sounded so much like Michael Moore that they might as well have been scripted by him. But I worry about the conversation getting stuck there. About bringing people that far out, and no further.

It sucks, right? Because I feel like left-leaning media, and left-leaning people, come under fire so often that it’s really not kind or even worthwhile to criticize them. But I used to wake up to Air America every morning, thanks to the dude I lived with, and what I heard was a lot of screaming about “sheeple,” a lot of self-righteousness, a lot of talking points. And not a lot of deep thought. And Moore, to me, is like the “sheeple” screaming turned up to eleven. He is so angry! And he is so angry in such a catchy, slogan-y way! He wants you to join him so we can all be angry together! Isn’t that fun? We are such good people. We are people. Not sheeple. God forbid. Hey, let’s throw the word “evil” around! Because we all know that’s not a tactic people commonly use to rile up a base and/or oversimplify issues in a really dangerous way. It’s just fun to say when you don’t like someone and want to scare people away from agreeing with them. Evil evil evil. Woo!

To really explain why this disturbs me, in such a visceral way, I have to take a detour, and explain to you why I did not want to see or write about Inglourious Basterds. It would have been easy – finally, a Tarantino movie that no-one likes – but I didn’t want to go there, because basically, Quentin Tarantino’s entire moral cosmos seems so ridiculously simplistic that I can’t even be bothered. As far as I can figure out, it goes like this:

  1. Violence looks cool!
  2. Oh, but people who do violence are BAD!
  3. So I will have some people do some really cool-looking extreme violence to show the audience how BAD they are!
  4. And then the good guys will fight them! ALSO WITH VIOLENCE!

And, I mean, you could argue that Tarantino doesn’t have a moral cosmos, that the point is just to create sensation – or you could go the whole “postmodern,” “commentary” route, if you liked, though I think that stuff in his movies tends to be gimmicky and not enough to hang your entire Understanding of Tarantino on – but if you’re arguing that, then you’re arguing that Beatrix gets raped in Kill Bill Part One for no reason other than to set up a few awesome death scenes. And that’s not what his fans like the movies for, in my experience. Tarantino seems to have moved from flat-out nihilism to nihilism disguised as empowerment, in recent years. So it’s fine to engage with him on that level. Because that level is equally problematic.

I mean: the thought of Tarantino applying this to World War Fucking Two was really not appealing to me. I’ve heard there’s not even that much violence in the movie, that it’s all talk-talk-talk, that it’s mostly about a girl, and you know what? Super. Great. Did you get the requisite foot fetish scene in, QT? Oh, you totally did? Awesome. But here’s the thing I can’t get around: the feeling that it’s using World War Two as a setting and Nazis as villains, not so that Quentin Tarantino can actually deal with the sobering realities of genocide and the human need for revenge and resistance, but so that literally anything the good guys do will be considered justifiable. Basically, I think he’s using the Holocaust to write himself a blank check.

It’s the Godwin’s Law school of filmmaking. You compare someone to Hitler to shut down the argument. You make Hitler the villain of your film to shut down any argument about your protagonists’ actions. Because it’s not like anyone is going to be all, “oh, those poor Nazis! Quit being so mean to them!” No reasonable person, anyway. Oh, and then you end your film by shooting Hitler a whole bunch of times in the face? Oh, WHAT. You have a problem with shooting Hitler in the face? Blah blah “trivializing history” blah blah “exploiting real tragedy for the sake of sensationalism” blah. You know who else probably had a problem with shooting Hitler in the face: HITLER. Granted, he changed his mind a bit toward the end, but still.

I know you could apply this criticism to a lot of movies that are not Inglourious Basterds. The whole trick whereby you make your antagonists unambiguously, facelessly Evil (minions of Sauron, stormtroopers in service to the Evil Empire, whatever) kind of allows you to write your way around the whole “what violence is justifiable and when and why and by whom” question. And that question may not be answerable in screenplay format. It’s a really uncomfortable question, actually, and I can fully see why you wouldn’t want your audience to be wrestling with it while they enjoy your many well-crafted action setpieces. But it plays into this very basic need that humans have, this need to feel like they are on the side of the Good, and I distrust that need for oh, so many reasons, because here’s how it tends to play out:

  1. The people and things we oppose are Bad.
  2. Therefore, we are Good.
  3. Our actions are taken in the service of defeating the Bad.
  4. Therefore, our actions are, by default, Good.

It’s problematic enough to do this in fiction. (Like: when a whole bunch of people pointed out that, in Inglourious Basterds, the Basterds actually seemed just as sadistic and monstrous as the Nazis. Whoops!) It’s way more problematic to do this in the realm of politics. It never ends well. In point of fact, if you want to ask yourself why people are capable of committing atrocities, I’d say that this line of thinking is one of the primary culprits.

I’m not saying that I’ve never done this: that I’ve never engaged in unapologetic rabble-rousing, that I’ve never oversimplified a complex argument for the sake of what I believed to be a more important point, that I’ve never toted a party line or considered winning an argument more important than being right. I’m saying that I don’t feel good about it. And I feel especially bad about it when I look at Michael Moore, someone who has made an entire career out of those very tactics.

I mean: I would bet that, if you asked him, and if he were obliged to be honest, Michael Moore would admit that he tries to get people riled up. That he’s manipulative. That his style of argument can be risible and dishonest. That people don’t walk away from his movies deeply informed about his subjects, but that they do walk away deeply angry, and full of self-righteousness, and that this is the point. I don’t know whether he’d feel bad about it. I don’t know if he’d feel bad even if you pointed out that this is also how Bill O’Reilly functions. Or how George W. Bush functioned. I’m pretty sure he’d say that the tactics are unacceptable from them, and acceptable from him, because his cause is Good, and theirs is Bad. Or, you know, “evil.”

And that’s why he scares me. To be honest, it’s what scares me sometimes about myself. Because I basically think that, in order to be a good person, you have to continually ask yourself whether you are a bad one. You always have to consider the possibility that you’re the bad guy – that you can be a bad guy regardless of your cause. You have to constantly look at your enemies, not to see how you are different, but to see how you are the same.

75 Comments

  1. Roxie wrote:

    OH HAI! What’re you doing in my head, making my cloudy thoughts all clear like?

    Seriously!

    From the first moment I saw the trailer for “Inglorious Bastards” I had a huge feeling of being extremely uncomfortable with it. Everyone around me thought it just looked SO AWESOME, but I had this annoying tickle of “Ah, no. Not all that awesome at all.”

    I couldn’t seem to articulate why. The most I was able to squeeze out of myself was that I didn’t like how much the protagonists seemed to LOVE killing Nazis in such a ruthless way… similar to the way Jews were being killed. This was always prefaced with “I’m not pro-Nazi, but”.

    Thanks for this.

    Monday, September 14, 2009 at 10:34 pm | Permalink
  2. Adrianna wrote:

    As a preface, I’d just like to say sometimes, I just want to see people shot in the face. I have a stressful job. Not mildly stressful, fast food work, but like super stressful, sometimes-i-could-die work.
    Makes me an angry lady, ANYWAY I thank you for calling out Moore on his BS. Him and Rush are the same damn person in different freaking hats and it drives me up the wall.

    Monday, September 14, 2009 at 11:41 pm | Permalink
  3. Helen wrote:

    Have you seen “Death Proof”? The second half of the movie with Zoe Bell on the hood of the car is fabulous. No killing involved. Although there is some in the first half. And I love the stories on YouTube and DVD optional extras about Zoe and how she came to be in the movie. She’s a character every young gel should watch.

    Tuesday, September 15, 2009 at 2:54 am | Permalink
  4. Helen wrote:

    I said “hood” where I should have stayed true to my antipodean roots and said “bonnet”, but then Americans have to have that sort of thing explained to them, whereas we Antipodeans have to slog through novels with references to “tootsie rolls” and “babe ruths” and “Frats” without a glossary.

    Speaking of which (explaining), MM actually did rather a good job explaining to those of us out in the rest of the world, you know, not the US (Yes, we exist!) about your medical system and how it works, or doesn’t, rather. I understand the issues from here better because of “Sicko”. And really, I think it’s perfectly reasonable to get angry over your health “system”.

    Tuesday, September 15, 2009 at 2:58 am | Permalink
  5. C.L. Minou wrote:

    Far be it for me to defend too loudly Michael Moore, because I agree he’s kind of a jerk (and worse, a wildly uneven filmaker, sometimes even within a single movie.) But as you and I well know, Sady, there is a place for polemic/satire, whether it’s Juvenal, Swift, or…Minou.

    That is, at his best I think Moore’s movies accomplish what they need to: they give a strong voice to the countervailing wisdom. I’ve taken a lot of talking points about health care from “Sicko,” and even one of his worse movies, “Bowling for Columbine,” has some fantastic stuff contrasting American and Canadian gun and security cultures.

    On the other hand, something as over the top as “Fahrenheit 9/11″ didn’t really do anyone any favors.

    And there is something to say about being so outrageous, because it allows him to do things that other filmakers simply can’t touch. Yes, he was horribly exploitative in “Sicko” with the 9/11 vets and in “Bowling” with the Columbine survivors–but by the same token, who else could have a discussion about why Cuban healthcare doesn’t suck even though the island is impoverished and under a corrupt dictatorship, or what the complicity of a huge corporation that makes guns and ammo easily available is in America’s litany of massacres. And who could do a critique of capitalism, if not Moore?

    I dunno. I know he’s ultimately a propagandist, and he infuriates me often, because I think he’s snarky and privileged and exploitative. But he’s a good propagandist, and a propagandist for good causes. And there’s a place for propaganda in any movement. You can’t win on your virtue alone–people actually need to hear your message.

    I dunnon. Means, ends, morality…

    Tuesday, September 15, 2009 at 3:12 am | Permalink
  6. Fuchsia wrote:

    I saw Inglourious Basterds (my only Tarantino film this far) and experienced the exact same reaction, Sady! Wanna hear something weird though? When I shared my thoughts on the behaviour of the basterds outside the cinema, I got a distinct vibe of Uncomfortable from my fellow movie-goers. Like, no you’re missing the point, it’s supposed to be Fun and now you’re spoiling this for us by making us feel Guilty for being entertained by violence. Please stop speaking and let us talk instead about how Awesome such-and-such a scene was.

    But do you know what else I found really, really difficult to digest in this particular film? As opposed the basterds actions, which of course were dreadfully sadistic and repelling, Soshanna’s reaction to her very traumatic personal experiences is somewhat understandable and even justifiable… But then well, you’ve not only got the whole anestheticising violence against women thing which made me cringe, but the entire plot of the film hinges on this insane supposedly jewish revenge fantasy and the whole inversion thing, like, look, now its them unsuspectingly led into a confined space and exterminated, what laughs! Which troubles me not only because of the exact reasons you list above (bad things are ok as long as it’s the good guys doing them, coz then they’re not really bad), but also because the underlying question to me seemed to be, hang on, why didn’t it work out that way in real life? Why *did* Germany’s Jews just sit there and take it? Why didn’t they trap all the Nazi leadership in a cinema and set it on fire, huh? And I don’t like that, not solely because it glamorises violence, but because it encourages a fundamental misunderstanding of human psychology and the options open to people in extremely life-threatening situations. It basically negates all of the lessons humanity has (or should have) learned from WWII and perpetuates a mentality that blames the victim, for basically being confused, frozen by fear and unaware of the true dimensions of the problem, because, guess what, they’re not the ones calling the shots here and they’re not in their attacker’s mind and cannot therefore adjust their reactions to his plans. And this way of thinking can in turn have negative repercussions that not only affect our understanding of history, but of modern society as well…

    (apologies for the rant…)

    Tuesday, September 15, 2009 at 3:22 am | Permalink
  7. You know, I had a HUGE problem with Transformers II, for similar reasons. And of course criticizing a Michael Bay movie for questionable *anything* seems redundant. Because it’s just “mindless fun”, right? Only it’s mindless fun with an unmistakable Us vs. Them rhetoric, oh and guess what, it’s also mindless fun where unimaginable violence is partially perpetrated by the good guys in someone else’s yard, homes are destroyed, benchmarks of human ingenuity (pyramids, temples) get decimated, and innocent bystanders get blown to bits. But all in a days work, right? That’s WHAT IT TAKES to “get” the bad guys and at the end of the day, the Good Guys get to high-five and go home and someone else gets to clean up the mess. So as long as there’s a big-ass robot onscreen, it’s mindless fun, even if it’s dressed up as nationalist button-pushing xenophobic propaganda which, among other travesties, invokes ancient blood sacrifice to demonstrate unassailable virtue? And the good guys are allowed to get away with anything because OMG MEGATRON KILLED OPTIMUS PRIME?!?
    So, in conclusion: right on, Sady. Please forgive my very strident rant.

    Tuesday, September 15, 2009 at 6:12 am | Permalink
  8. Sam Holloway wrote:

    Sady, I agree with your analysis of Quentin Tarantino. I’ve never liked his movies; they seem more interested in the vapid and shocking (albeit using crafty story-telling techniques) than in anything I’d call humane.

    On the other hand, I wonder if you’re watching the same Michael Moore movies I’m watching. Your ‘analysis’ of his movies is as devoid of fact and depth as you accuse them of being. Is he polarizing? Of course, that’s the point. Moore seems to understand something that many Sensible and Civilized liberals fail to grasp: you can analyze and understand something to death, but you’ll still get crushed if you’re sitting still and your opposition is mobilized and organized. I don’t find Moore’s movies nearly as “risible and dishonest” as what passes for informative discourse on the corporate media outlets. A low bar to set, to be sure, but true nonetheless. Perhaps what makes Moore so distasteful to so many Sensible and Civilized liberals is that he is successful. Maybe we could learn something from his approach; what we’ve been doing sure hasn’t been working.

    Tuesday, September 15, 2009 at 6:46 am | Permalink
  9. McDuff wrote:

    For once, I actually disagree with Sady Doyle about something! This is a new experience. I’m gonna revel in it.

    First up: the reason Left-Wing Media in the states is so diabolically awful is demonstrated in the reaction to the election of Obama. It’s not that they were so terribly opposed to lies and wars, it’s just that the schmucks in the other party were believing the wrong lies and fighting the wrong wars. Both sides of the media establishment fought spittle-flecked propaganda with spittle-flecked propaganda, and then people found themselves after the election wondering why “hope and change” didn’t look all that different from the so-called Bush Era after all.

    But Moore isn’t a Bush Era propagandist, he’s a Reagan Era, Bush Era, Clinton Era propagandist. Roger and Me was 1989, TV Nation was running slap bang through the Clinton years and Bowling for Columbine is better understood as a Clinton-era doc than a Bush-era doc. I think he found particular resonance under Bush II because the entire country had gone stark staring bonkers, but you can’t idly wrap the guy into the same package as Air America or The Daily Show (ooh, controversial!)

    You know who shouldn’t be setting the terms of this debate? Tim Geithner. Oh wait, he’s the treasury secretary, so I guess he does. I can’t help but think that Moore’s “most feared film maker in Hollywood” is a little tongue in cheek, given the actual influence people like Moore have on the smooth running of the American Empire. Nonetheless, he stands up and shouts about it. Like every good conspiracy theorist, he’s got the notion that if only enough people knew about this that they could somehow rise up, Peterloo-style, and take back the power from the ruling classes. We all gotta dream.

    On Tarantino, well… you don’t like him, OK, fine. That’s a valid personal subjective value judgement. But your whole bit about Tarantino’s “moral cosmos” was… shit criticism, basically. One might as well look at Guernica and say “so, this Picasso bloke… he doesn’t like war, right?” And yes, I would compare Tarantino to Picasso. Simply in pure aesthetic terms, talking about nothing else other than his decisions to point a camera here as opposed to there, Tarantino does the art of constructing a motion picture better than most of the people working in Hollywood today. That he can also throw in some intelligent commentary – postmodern and therefore easily deridable or otherwise – about the cinematic cultural environment that he operates in is a particularly pleasing layer of marzipan.

    I mean, let’s take a comparison between Basterds and Saving Private Ryan. Is there any reason that your simplistic four-point summaries couldn’t apply to that movie? Or, indeed, any war movie? Yay we’re the good guys, yay they’re the bad guys, also war is hell and let’s layer on some moral pathos but, really, we’re just here to revel in the horror and violence of it all. Except, there’s less revelling and less violence in Basterds than there is in Private Ryan. The Basterds don’t learn valuable life lessons from their spree (which is, yes, just as horrifying and brutal as the Nazis – that would be the point, you see), they mostly die. Just like in real wars.

    Basterds isn’t – can’t be – any more guilty of trivialising history for sensationalism than Private Ryan or The Thin Red Line or, fuck it, for that matter, Apocalypse Now. I’d say possibly the biggest difference between Tarantino and Spielberg is that Tarantino knows he’s trivialising it – partly to poke fun at the self-indulgent way in which auteurs like Spielberg create these masterpieces of human tragedy out of the sheer bloody pointlessness of war. But both of them are, which means you either end up with a problem with the very notion of setting a fictional movie against the backdrop of war – which is fine but sort of culturally limiting and means you never get to watch La Vita è Bella as well as Dambusters – or you need to move beyond the skeleton of the film and onto the actual meat.

    Among the many cuts of meat in Basterds, incidentally, as you may have heard, is one of the most beautifully complete reversals of the Hollywood ‘nice guy’ narrative to have been filmed in a long time. But, that’s all by the by.

    Everyone criticises the movie in the head rather than the one on the screen. That’s a given. Some people like Tarantino, some people don’t. I don’t like using the word “get” because it implies this notion that there’s a “right” emotional and personal response to a movie. If we reverse it, it’s better. Tarantino gets some people, and not others. But if you don’t watch a film, the movie in your head isn’t the one Tarantino made. So in this case I think I’m fine saying that you have missed the point of Inglourious Basterds, you made up a movie and criticised someone for your response to your own shitty movie in your head. That’s bad form. It also renders you incapable of critiquing it, and especially of responding to others’ critiques, without sounding like you’re throwing stuff against the wall and hoping it sticks.

    And, seriously, have you seen Jackie Brown? You might hate it, I don’t know. But you should still watch it, even just so you can come back and say “hah Tarantino fans I totally told you I would hate it and now I can even justify my opinions and everything!”

    I guess it’s time for a segue back into Michael Moore. You know who was evil? Hitler. I mean, sure, there are more complicated ways of saying it than that, but it’s one of those 21st century western cultural bedrock assumptions, the reason we have a Godwin’s Law in the first place. When people make documentaries about the second world war, it’s unusual for people to get all uppity if someone connects ordering the slaughter of millions with some sort of personal moral failing. Even mushy folks like me who don’t actually like the concept of morality very much think it’s cool to ascribe something like “evil” to someone like “Hitler”. It’s justified.

    Is it justified to call the people who sit at the top of the food chain in America “evil”? I would say so. Fuzzy liberal christians like Fred Clark do, regularly. Not all of them, obviously. But there are people at the top who are not just gilding their toilets with the money they earned from the misfortunes of others, but deliberately creating policies to further impoverish the already poor so that they may gild the toilets on their eighteenth yacht. That takes a certain level of sociopathic disregard for other people that is certainly, if not actually like Hitler, at least hanging around in the same Opera House.

    What we are talking about is an aristocracy of people who do not care about you. At all. You barely register to them as a person. They wouldn’t pick up a gun and shoot you, but if you die of starvation because their policies left you homeless they would still sleep soundly at night.

    I’ve watched the trailer for Capitalism: A Love Story. It doesn’t use the word Evil. Maybe it should. And maybe reviewing a movie based on the trailer might mean you’ve missed something.

    Tuesday, September 15, 2009 at 7:04 am | Permalink
  10. Michael Moore has his political limitations – but, at his best, he’s a populist liberal propagandist.

    And he’s very very good at it – and mainstream America actually pays good money to see his movies.

    As for Tarantino – I happen to like violent action movies and he’s a smart movie buff who makes violent action movies, so I like what he does.

    Also, I don’t have a problem with violence in general – violence IS a solution to many intractable social problems (example – but for the violence of the Civil War, African Americans would still be slaves and but for the violence of the 1960′s riots, African Americans would still be jim crow segregated second class citizens) so I have no problem with the advocacy and glorification of violence (as long as it’s the bad guys on the receiving end of that violence).

    Non violence and pacifism are for weak willed losers who aren’t serious about their political convictions.

    The only way to achieve social justice is for those who believe in it to be willing to get violent with those who don’t.

    Tuesday, September 15, 2009 at 7:50 am | Permalink
  11. Sady wrote:

    @Gregory: You know, I’d have an easier time buying your sophisticated (and kind of yikesy!) concept of social justice if you hadn’t stepped in to defend Seth McFarlane’s rape jokes in the previous thread.

    Tuesday, September 15, 2009 at 8:31 am | Permalink
  12. TheDeviantE wrote:

    Michael Moore is a propagandist. For reals.

    And I like him for it.

    A couple years back I was in a Mass Media class and one of the books we read was all about the rise of the right-wing spin machine. And throughout the book was a constant refrain: they got this far because they were willing to use any methods while lefties try to explain the whole truth, so they allow for caveats and what ifs. But the right wing spin machine really doesn’t care. They know what to say to get people upset and moving and they’ve been doing it solidly now since they started decades ago. Amping it up year by year.

    The idea that lefties have, that we should always be perfectly upstanding and give every single idea its day is absolutely the reason the spin machine is so effective.

    And also, they NEVER STOP. I mean (just as a mindless example), Death Panels???? What the fucking fuck? And then you have the mainstream media which actually gives a microphone to people bringing guns to townhall meetings. These people are getting interviewed!!! As though whatever prompted them to threaten violence is at all legitimate. Why? Because every idea should have its day.

    I just disagree with you when you say that the time for rile-ing up is over. Congresspeople are getting death threats about supporting the policies of the current government. It’s not like these death threaters all just woke up one day and decided it’d be a good idea to try to destroy the democratic process for shits ‘n giggles. It’s coming from somewhere, and that somewhere is just about all of the media (either in the form of supporting it or giving it a free pass). So when Michael Moore gets people riled up (I have yet to hear of a death threat made against a congressperson for supporting a conservative policy, if that day comes I’ll probably change my mind) and calls out the bullshit it’s a sigh of relief on my part.

    Also, all the Inglorious Basterds ads totally rubbed me the wrong way. They looked so pretty and shiney and fun, and then Wheeeeee a giant swastika! Who doesn’t love a giant swastika for a movie that seemingly has no plot but has Brad Pitt saying “kill us some Nazis”. Whoo, what a knee slapper.

    Tuesday, September 15, 2009 at 9:12 am | Permalink
  13. emjaybee wrote:

    I guess I might see your point re Michael Moore, if we weren’t still in the crisis you mention. My response to someone doing something necessary (which his movies unequivocally do) but not doing it as well as it should be done (as in, he doesn’t check his facts well enough/indulges in ad hominem) is to say we need more and better, not suppression, of this kind of agitation.

    We still live in a country with a lot of corporate money pulling the strings in Washington and worse, controlling our media. Reasoned discourse is simply not on the menu, it is not actually *allowed* on the menu of most of our major corporate-owned media. And Democratic hand-wringing over being “balanced” has only made it easier for an insanely unbalanced Republican party to grab more power and cause more damage.

    I really really don’t think there is anything in a Moore movie you can compare to the dudes bringing semiautomatics to anti-Obama rallies or frothing of Glenn Beck. Not even close. I understand the worry that we might go that route, but by and large, though I see lots of anger on the left I do not see calls to violence.

    George Bush is a human being; I do not wish him to be hurt or killed. But what he did, what Cheney did, what the Republican party and its supporters are doing is, in fact, *evil.* Subverting human rights, shredding the Constitution, suberting the judiciary, justifying torture, spying on citizens and creating massive suffering is evil. These things happened, and the Republicans made them happen.

    The Democrats are not exempt from this criticism; the “crazy” liberals on DailyKos take them to task for it frequently, for enabling and participating in these actions. But they are also the only political party that has attempted to correct or stop them in any way.

    Moore is an agitator and a media celebrity, and not a saint. But he does not pose anything like the danger to our peace and democracy that corporate ownership and control of our goverment and media does. It’s like comparing a molotov cocktail to a buster-bunker.

    Tuesday, September 15, 2009 at 9:23 am | Permalink
  14. Ashley wrote:

    THANK YOU!

    First of all, Michael Moore infuriates me in the same way that Glenn Beck infuriates me. They both preach to the choir in outrageous ways, but quite often that outrageous preaching seems to be less about advancing actual social change and more about saying “Look at me! I’m so PROVACTIVE and OUTRAGEOUS! Give me my Oscar now!” In other words, so much of Michael Moore’s work seems to primarily be about constructing a salable persona for one Michael Moore. And while I take the “but he’s our asshole” point in stride, I’ve been spending enough time around conservative whackjobs to become decidedly uncomfortable with the whole idea of whackjobbery as an effective means for political change, and I’m not really moved by the “everyone is doing it” excuse offered by Moore’s defenders.

    Secondly, the novel-length defenses of Quentin Tarantino that manifest themselves on Tigerbeatdown just slay me. I mean, seriously, McDuff, I was worn out by the 5th paragraph. It’s like there’s a legion of Tarantino fans out there monitoring the interwebs just in case anyone has to audacity to say anything bad about Tarantino. At no point did anyone suggest that Spielburg makes less exploitive, problematic war movies than Tarantino. I find the argument that Basterds is somehow acceptable because it is self-consciously exploitive and grotesque to be an extremely poor one. I am 100% on board with Sady about this.

    Finally, Battlestar Galactica. Nuff said.

    Tuesday, September 15, 2009 at 9:42 am | Permalink
  15. Kelly wrote:

    Oh Sady you know how I love you and how I look up to you as my “yoda” of sorts and credit you as responsible for most of my more thought out opinions in general. And (Mcduff this is where we are similar) Tarantino is the only thing where I strongly disagree with you!

    But honestly I don’t know that I can tell you that you are wrong in any of your points. I think there are so many ways that so many elements of his movies can be interpreted and I think your points are valid. I guess my problem is that his movies are just so SATIFYING that I can’t help but enjoy them. Its fair to say that in Kill Bill Beatrix was raped only so she could violently kill her rapist later, but it was just SO awesome when she does that I don’t care. Its like a release of the anger that builds up in me because I am constantly filled with outrage about rape culture and the atrocities that happen to women every day. Then you see a woman in a hospital gown (instead of a latex body suit or some other sexy outfit) smash a serial rapists head in with a door. And its kind of awesome, and then you can laugh a little. Its kind of like that article a while back about the guy who tried to rape a raccoon but it basically gnawed his penis off. I thought that was awesome and poetic justice and I laughed even though I probably should not have.

    Also I just love action movies with guns/ swords/ explosions. Probably because I see my movie options as watching stereo types of women as they search for the perfect man and shoes, or stereo types of women with guns/swords/explosions so I choose the latter. So Taratino is one of the very few options that shows women being just as capable of violence/revenge/atrocities as typical male heroes or villains, instead of the damsel in distress or “prize” to be one by the good guy.

    So, while you very well may be right about Taratino I can’t help but love his movies. They are significantly less bothersome to me then say, Sex and the City, or even movies like Underworld. I don’t know what this says about me as a person…

    either way…I agree with you about Michael Moore :-)

    Tuesday, September 15, 2009 at 10:22 am | Permalink
  16. Kelly wrote:

    um…I meant “prize to be WON” not one. damn homonyms.

    Tuesday, September 15, 2009 at 10:25 am | Permalink
  17. elegentcurmudgeon:
    At the end of the day, the Good Guys get to high-five and go home and someone else gets to clean up the mess.

    Mm hmm. Like this.

    ashley:
    Lol, FOR REAL. I hated Saving Private Ryan! I also hate Tarantino’s movies!

    Tuesday, September 15, 2009 at 10:31 am | Permalink
  18. Sady wrote:

    @McDuff: Oh hey there! Let us disagree in a civil and constructive manner. With MUTUAL WALL O’ TEXT COMMENT TIME!

    “But Moore isn’t a Bush Era propagandist, he’s a Reagan Era, Bush Era, Clinton Era propagandist… I think he found particular resonance under Bush II because the entire country had gone stark staring bonkers, but you can’t idly wrap the guy into the same package as Air America or The Daily Show (ooh, controversial!)”

    True, which is why I pointed to a resurgence in his popularity. He went from a guy who had one cult-success movie to a guy with a book, several successful movies, and a very big presence in the national conversation. His tactics anticipated the Bush-era media and helped to define it, but he was around before they were. Just like the Daily Show, actually. (Which: yeah, I know that it’s a part of that whole deal, too. And I guess I didn’t single it out because I still find a lot of it funny, and because it grew into its “liberal media” status rather than specifically working to attain it. The Colbert Show belongs under that heading a bit more, although I like the absurdist humor – BEARS! – and Colbert’s character better than the actual commentary.)

    “You know who shouldn’t be setting the terms of this debate? Tim Geithner. Oh wait, he’s the treasury secretary, so I guess he does.”

    Like I said: not averse to radical critiques of the system. This isn’t a choice between Moore and Geithner, it’s a choice between responsible critique and irresponsible critique.

    “Your whole bit about Tarantino’s “moral cosmos” was… shit criticism, basically. One might as well look at Guernica and say “so, this Picasso bloke… he doesn’t like war, right?” …Tarantino does the art of constructing a motion picture better than most of the people working in Hollywood today. That he can also throw in some intelligent commentary – postmodern and therefore easily deridable or otherwise – about the cinematic cultural environment that he operates in is a particularly pleasing layer of marzipan.”

    I’m basing that specific passage on the other movies that I’ve seen, specifically those scenes that focus on the subject of violence and revenge, to explain why I was deeply uneasy about (and did not want to see) this one. Like the rape/revenge scene in Pulp Fiction, or Kill Bill. It goes, gory attack/equally gory revenge/YAY, TAKE BACK THE POWER! It’s deeply exploitative, especially coming from someone like Quentin Tarantino, who as far as I know is not a rape survivor, a woman, or Jewish, to take violent acts that people of those populations fear or have endured and use them as an excuse for some cool-looking violence. And before I get the whole “BUT PEOPLE HAVE TO WRITE CHARACTERS THAT ARE DIFFERENT THAN THEMSELVES” thing, yes, I DO privilege the voices of suppressed or marginalized populations on what the experience of atrocity is like for them. I do this because the dominance of the privileged has resulted in their voices being silenced or lost, and because privileged people assume the right to speak for them while not creating space for them to speak for themselves. And in the interviews I’ve read, Tarantino himself does not dispute the fact that violence is in his movies primarily because he thinks it looks awesome.

    Also, I think that one of Tarantino’s chief draws is that he does “postmodern” in such a big, clunking, obvious way that even people who normally don’t get it can congratulate themselves on enjoying this whole “postmodernism” thing. He panders. If he were really as smart and bleeding-edge as his fans think he is, I think he’d be a lot less popular.

    That said, he is a talented craftsman of images. I don’t dispute that.

    “Basterds isn’t – can’t be – any more guilty of trivialising history for sensationalism than Private Ryan or The Thin Red Line or, fuck it, for that matter, Apocalypse Now.”

    Which is why I said you could apply the criticism to other movies.

    “There’s less revelling and less violence in Basterds than there is in Private Ryan. The Basterds don’t learn valuable life lessons from their spree (which is, yes, just as horrifying and brutal as the Nazis – that would be the point, you see), they mostly die.”

    Actually, it’s been a long time since I’ve watched it, but I liked Private Ryan for making a few points: one, that war isn’t empowering and doesn’t make a man out of you, that it’s just scary and awful, and two, that acts of “heroism” in war (like saving one dude because all his brothers are dead) can be cynical PR moves that result in a whole lot of people having relatively meaningless and unpublicized and terrible deaths. I’m sure there are flaws in the movie – it’s Spielberg, when he can go maudlin he goes maudlin – but I think those are decent points. War is a constant in human life and if filmmakers are artists, then they should be able to tackle the subject of war (like all facets of human experience) responsibly, and do what art does: make us SEE it, make us feel it, bring it into the realm of human comprehension.

    And the whole “the Jewish heroes are morally equivalent to Nazis and that’s the point” thing – first, it’s my understanding that, if so, he’s trying to have it both ways by also encouraging us to have sympathy for Shoshanna and to triumph in her revenge. (Even though she, you know, leads people into an enclosed area and burns them to death.) And second, as a whole lot of people have pointed out, if that IS the point, it’s FUCKING VILE. You really want a movie in which Jewish people are shown as sadistic, inhumane monsters equal to the regime that systematically imprisoned, tortured, and attempted to exterminate them? Yeah, obviously, the human capacity for violence is present in people of all races, creeds and genders, but that is VASTLY DISRESPECTFUL to the actual history at play here: a history of millions of people being brutally killed for no reason other than the fact that they were a part of a marginalized population, and NOT EVEN HAVING THE MEANS to fight back (although, if they did, I really doubt that they would have used precisely the same tactics). You REALLY want someone to gloss over a history of FUCKING SYSTEMATIC GENOCIDE in the name of making some points about, I don’t know, violent movies? You REALLY want someone to reduce Hitler, one of the most dangerous and reprehensible dictators of the twentieth century, to a movie villain so that he can be dispatched with the same ease and sensationalism as the villain in a Die Hard movie? You want the history of the Holocaust to come second to Tarantino’s need for a boffo image or moment or fight scene? You think that’s clever? You think that’s “postmodern?” You think that’s “commentary?” For FUCK’S SAKE.

    At the end of the Holocaust Museum, you come into a room that’s very calm, and you are presented with one simple command: Never Forget That This Happened. After Inglourious Basterds, I’m thinking maybe they should add a second: Don’t Blatantly Make Shit Up About This That Contradicts The History You Just Learned Because You Think It Might Be Cool.

    That said, if you want to see a movie that proves that the “good guys” are capable of monstrosity in the name of defeating the “bad guys,” and that uses World War Two to make this point, maybe you might want to rent a documentary on Hiroshima.

    “I guess it’s time for a segue back into Michael Moore. You know who was evil? Hitler.”

    Oh, yeah, I can totally see why you might think I don’t get that. I mean, I’m so much less serious about the evilness of Hitler and the importance of remembering his history than, say, Quentin Tarantino.

    But! Here’s the thing – if we can ever use the word “evil” (a word which, yes, I do object to in that it implies total and unquestioning allegiance with some one unified and transcendent concept of Bad, instead of the more utilitarian understanding of things that are measurably detrimental and wrong and depend upon context to make them so – like, is killing Evil? Or is it bad when you kill someone who wants to live, and not-bad when you allow someone to die if they’ve expressed a wish not to be kept alive through life support and that is the only option left?) we can use it in relation to Hitler, who orchestrated a genocide. We can probably also use it in relation to Mengele, who willingly dehumanized others to the extent that he felt just fine torturing and killing them for the sake of medical experimentation. But the word doesn’t fully account for the ways in which oppressive systems are constructed and maintained.

    This is similar to Arendt’s point (in, you know, “”Eichman in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil”), and the point of a lot of theorists of oppression and privilege: that most people who participate in those systems don’t set out with monstrosity in their hearts, ready to cause some pain and do some evil. They’re ordinary people, who kiss their kids and tuck them into bed at night and get dinner reservations for their anniversaries and throw a frisbee around in the park with their dogs. They’re just presented with oppression as a norm, and so they oppress. They have the indoctrination of privilege – a whole list of reasons why the privilege they enjoy is right and normal and not to be questioned – to keep them from resisting it. They might, at most, realize that they have something to lose by NOT participating in the system, might be afraid to step outside of it because of the potential consequences – but that’s the extent to which most privileged people are consciously oppressive. Even though the things they do are, yes, very bad. Even though this line of thinking does make people capable of atrocities, which they do not recognize as such. And that is the scary thing, not some unified field theory of Evil.

    And you entirely misrepresent that (and mislead others, and thereby make rational policies for resistance based on these truths less possible for all of us to craft) for the sake of political gain when you engage in purposefully inflammatory rhetoric like this:

    “Is it justified to call the people who sit at the top of the food chain in America “evil”? I would say so.[1]… there are people at the top who are not just gilding their toilets[2] with the money they earned from the misfortunes of others, but deliberately [3] creating policies to further impoverish the already poor so that they may gild the toilets on their eighteenth yacht. That takes a certain level of sociopathic [4] disregard for other people that is certainly, if not actually like Hitler,[5] at least hanging around in the same Opera House.

    What we are talking about is an aristocracy of people who do not care about you.[6a] At all. You[6b] barely register to them as a person. They wouldn’t pick up a gun and shoot you,[7] but if you die[8] of starvation because their policies left you homeless they would still sleep soundly at night.”

    [1]Evil! Oh, no! Not Evil! I heard about that in Church, and it comes from the Devil!
    [2] Gilding toilets?! What a ridiculous waste of money! Why, me, I could USE that money! I am angry now!
    [3] DELIBERATELY?! With full knowledge of how Evil it is and everything?!?!?! These people must be operating with consciously malicious intent! So that their toilets can be shiny! OH I HATE THEM SO.
    [4] Sociopathic! I know that word, too! It’s like Evil, and it’s something you only use for people who aren’t fully human! Thank god you found their medical records and let me know that they are THE DREADED SOCIOPATHS! They must be just like all those scary killers I see in the movie shows, huh?
    [5] HITLER! Why, I HATE Hitler! And these people are all more or less LIKE Hitler! I am getting really riled up against these by-this-point-no-longer-recognizable-as-anything-but-cardboard-villains plutocrats now!
    [6a & 6b] Don’t care about ME?! Me, PERSONALLY!? How DARE they! I care about me a LOT! Well, since they are strangers and I don’t know them, maybe… no. NO. Clearly this is a DELIBERATE ACT OF MALICE, these sociopathic evil Hitler folks not caring about me.
    [7] Ha, NO, but I bet they WOULD IF THEY COULD. Because they WANT ME DEAD! Helen, bar the doors! The Capitalists are attacking! Yes, yes, I know I said the same thing about the Communists a while ago, after I’d been listening to that persuasive McCarthy fellow, but THIS TIME IT’S SERIOUS.
    [8] NOOOOOOOOOOOOO. I DON’T WANT TO DIE! SAVE ME, MICHAEL MOOOOOOORE!!!!!!!

    Seriously. You don’t need to do this shit to make the point that unrestrained free-market capitalism has casualties. It totally does! But saying something like “no-one should die of a treatable disease” or “we can’t allow people to gamble with the well-being of others without laws to govern the amount of risk they are allowed to take, and a safety net in place for when they fuck up and other people have to pay for it” is reasonable, non-inflammatory, and does more for the cause. And right now, people are open to that kind of discussion because they can SEE that people don’t always end up poor due to their own bad behavior; they know that the people who run companies, who trade on Wall Street, are just as responsible for poverty as anyone else. You appeal to reason, compassion, and lived experience, not fear, hate and the capacity to dehumanize and demonize the opposition. I think that’s the worthier path.

    Tuesday, September 15, 2009 at 10:44 am | Permalink
  19. Sady wrote:

    @Everyone: Oh, so “Saving Private Ryan” actually does blow, huh? Ha! That’ll learn me to defend movies I saw once when I was a teener! Does anyone want to hear me talk about how awesome “Titanic” was, though? I CRIED. SO HARD.

    @Kelly: Awwwww, Kelly. You love Tarantino. I H8 Tarantino. But, really, must we engage in such reasonable and mutually friendly discussions about it? We should be calling each other evil! Here’s my first foray into that: YOU ARE SO EVIL THAT YOU REMIND ME OF HITLER. THAT IS HOW EVIL YOU ARE. YOU DO SO MUCH EVIL. HOW DARE YOU LIKE MOVIES AND HAVE REASONS FOR LIKING THEM. IT IS EVIL.

    Tuesday, September 15, 2009 at 10:57 am | Permalink
  20. amanda wrote:

    When I volunteered with a local anti-death-penalty group in college, the leadership would always address George W. Bush as “THE TEXICUTIONER.” The group was really, really uninterested in courting any conservative support, even though a lot of conservatives are against the death penalty. (Catholicism, hellooo). I ended up becoming uninterested in the whole liberal activism thing pretty quickly, not because my heart wasn’t in it, but because, like you said, I was completely uninterested in the people who were “setting the terms of the conversation.” Oh well, I guess that’s why we have blogs!

    Tuesday, September 15, 2009 at 11:33 am | Permalink
  21. smadin wrote:

    Well, this hasn’t been a contentions post at all. Geez, Sady, maybe next time you should try saying something that’ll get at least a little bit of reaction out of your readers!

    Actually, reading your first three or so paragraphs I was all set to come down here and disagree with you, because it looked like you were setting up some standard “both sides are bad” hippie-punching, and I was surprised at that.

    But although I’m still not sure you’re not painting “the angry Left” with an unduly broad brush, I see I guessed wrong where you were going, and I definitely agree with your main non-Tarantino-related points here (I suspect you’re right on the Tarantino-related points as well, but don’t care enough about Tarantino to watch all his movies and find out). It’s always dangerous, no matter anyone’s political position, to believe in one’s own righteousness. It’s of a piece, I think, with the nuance-free, black-and-white thinking that leads to talking about whether someone is A Racist instead of whether and how racist their actions are, to pick an example.

    Evil, I believe, isn’t a thing you are, it’s stuff you do.

    Tuesday, September 15, 2009 at 11:48 am | Permalink
  22. Sady wrote:

    @Smadin: Well, you know me. I’m so inoffensively bland and middle-of-the-road all the time that it’s rare for ANYONE to disagree with me! I think it might also have something to do with the fact that I’m typically not forceful at all in my statements, so I rarely provoke any kind of response. Agreeing With Everyone In The World, One Person At A Time, But Too Quietly For Anyone To Hear You: It’s the Sady Doyle Way!

    Tuesday, September 15, 2009 at 11:58 am | Permalink
  23. smadin wrote:

    (Meant to add, though — and I don’t mean to say you’re doing things; I think you aren’t — the most common form of criticism of Michael Moore, which consists of “Michael Moore! Ha ha, he’s terrible, amirite?”, always makes me uncomfortable, because it almost always is straight-up hippie punching with a side of fat hate. “He’s a propagandist!” Well, what do you mean by that? That he’s promoting a political agenda? That he’s saying things that aren’t true? That he’s leaving out things that are true? That he needlessly sensationalizes things? That he’s a disgusting slob, ha ha, what a fatass? That it’s unseemly to be angry about things? And I get pretty uncomfortable, also, with arguments that Moore is the left-wing equivalent of the O’Reillys and Limbaughs and Becks of the world, because even if we leave out the part where Moore advocates — however well or poorly — for a more humane society and O’Reilly, Limbaugh and Beck advocate for a less, Moore may overstate his case but he just doesn’t, as a matter of verifiable fact, lie anywhere near as much as his supposed right-wing “equivalents.” Plus he doesn’t try to get his audience riled up to the point of killing people.)

    Tuesday, September 15, 2009 at 12:00 pm | Permalink
  24. smadin wrote:

    ((Also also, “contentions”? How the hell did I do that? ‘N’ and ‘U’ aren’t even near each other!))

    Tuesday, September 15, 2009 at 12:08 pm | Permalink
  25. Ashley wrote:

    Smadin,

    Your points about Michael Moore-hate is quite valid, especially the fat-hate. The major problem I have with your argument is this:

    “And I get pretty uncomfortable, also, with arguments that Moore is the left-wing equivalent of the O’Reillys and Limbaughs and Becks of the world, because even if we leave out the part where Moore advocates — however well or poorly — for a more humane society and O’Reilly, Limbaugh and Beck advocate for a less, Moore may overstate his case but he just doesn’t, as a matter of verifiable fact, lie anywhere near as much as his supposed right-wing “equivalents.” Plus he doesn’t try to get his audience riled up to the point of killing people.)”

    It seems like you’re saying that Michael Moore stands for Truth, Justice, and the American Way while Rush and Beck stand for putting puppies in burlap sacks and drowning them. As vile and contemptible as they are, I do actually believe that THEY believe that they are outrageous in service of some higher ideal. They believe that they are for Families and Freedom and Patriotism while the Left wants to molest your children, kill your babies, and execute old people via “death panels.” Sound familiar? (Incidentally, Rush gets considerable fat-hate from the left as well).

    Take, for another example, the Joe Wilson fiasco, where a petulant, over-the-top outburst has certain conservatives rushing to his defense because however inappropriate the form of argumentation, he spoke the Truth! And yes, you can tell him that the health care bill totes doesn’t give unlimited coverage to illegal immigrants, but in some perverse corner of right-wing land, they have convinced themselves that this is Fact. And there’s a truckload of largely sane conservatives who know he was wrong but won’t speak up because Joe Wilson is just another soldier, misguided in his methods, against the great Soviet spectre of Obamacare.

    Tuesday, September 15, 2009 at 12:36 pm | Permalink
  26. Sady wrote:

    @Smadin: Right, but – and thank God we’re actually debating Moore instead of Tarantino now! – I think it’s hard not to argue that he is sensationalist, that he judiciously edits footage to give impressions that he couldn’t get away with stating outright (leading viewers to think that they’ve made the connection themselves, when the fact is that film, being visceral, implants those ideas in their heads in a way that more easily picked-apart verbal arguments could not), that his logic is often faulty, that his language is blatantly manipulative, that his interviewing style shifts depending on the results that he wants to get and that he then edits that footage, not only to focus on the relevant points, but to make interview subjects look either good or bad depending on whether they side with him or not.

    Like, compare how comfortable and at-ease Matt Stone and Marilyn Manson seemed, in “BfC,” compared with more or less anyone else he interviews: and how the Hell do frequent-N-word-utterer Marilyn Manson and “Team America” co-creator Matt Stone get through interviews without saying something that’s blatantly offensive to the liberal base Moore’s trying to endear them to? What got left out? And then the whole South-Park-rip-off cartoon, which Stone and Parker alleged – correctly! – might give people the impression that they were directly involved in making the movie and supported its message. I certainly thought that. I didn’t realize they HADN’T done it until I looked it up, in fact! And the people with whom I saw the movie thought so, too.

    And, obviously, the people that he makes into villains or idiots don’t look that way just because they’re On The Wrong Side and people on that side are stupid – although I used to think that, when I was younger and less thoughtful and enjoyed his work more. They look dumb and defensive because a stranger and/or famous guy who’s known for making people look like idiots is walking up to them, with a camera crew, and cornering them into conversations they weren’t prepared to have. They’re blindsided and uncomfortable, as anyone would be. How often is a request for Michael Moore to go away presented as evidence of guilt, in his movies? And the people that he’s framing as villains, there, are often not all-powerful policy-creators, but, like, SECURITY GUARDS. WORKING-CLASS PEOPLE. I mean, explain to me why the guy who’s filming the Tucker Max protests and mocking the protesters is utilizing different tactics from Michael Moore. Because I don’t think he is.

    And it doesn’t stop there. As Minou mentioned: getting 9/11 victims to go to Cuba, in “Sicko?” How blatantly manipulative is it to present yourself as the only person who cares about 9/11 victims? That’s some Giuliani shit, right there. And then the happy sunshiney fun-music Cuba montage, like, “wow, things are so super in Cuba! Hey, I hear they might have some legitimate problems with their government and/or economy? Nooooo, only evil health-care-hating Republicans would ever have any problems with Castro’s regime, and that’s because they HATE THE PROLETARIAT AND WANT US TO DIE! More fun Cuba music, please! Woo!” That’s just irresponsible.

    Film is an inherently manipulative medium. So is language. But I draw a line between making a point well (which requires a certain amount of persuasive power) and manipulation on this level. I think resorting to these tactics lessens us. The point is that social justice is necessary because it is right. The arguments in favor of non-oppression are more inherently worthy than the arguments in favor of oppression. We can demonstrate that oppression causes harm to human beings, and that it is therefore bad. I’m a feminist because it’s basic common sense, not because someone tricked me or preyed on my baser instincts or manipulated me with cheap sentimentality. I honestly believe that thinking people can, if we engage with them, choose the right course of action in most circumstances. But that requires them to know what the right course of action is, to be informed, and if they mistrust the folks who are trying to inform them because of shit like this, that’s a tragedy. It’s folks like Moore – who don’t trust or respect their audiences, who think people are inherently too stupid to know when they’re being manipulated or to know what’s best for them – who undermine progressives. I don’t trust anyone who uses these tactics in the name of a Higher Cause.

    Tuesday, September 15, 2009 at 12:44 pm | Permalink
  27. Sady wrote:

    @Sady and/or Smadin: Oh, or the part in “Bowling for Columbine” where he basically argues that there’s no racism in Canada. Um, there’s not? Really? Because one of my preferred anti-racist/womanist blogs is based there, actually. Maybe I should e-mail Renee and tell her about this?

    Tuesday, September 15, 2009 at 12:48 pm | Permalink
  28. smadin wrote:

    Ashley, Sady, I apologize in advance for the delay in responding — I’ll get back to this as soon as I can.

    Tuesday, September 15, 2009 at 12:51 pm | Permalink
  29. Ashley wrote:

    Painting the opposition as Evil is also an easy way of getting out of actually having to make your case. One of the things that bothers me about the healthcare debate isn’t just how dishonest and misleading its opponents have been but the fact that so many liberals have assume that universal healthcare is such a transcendent Good that we shouldn’t ever ever ever have to argue based on either moral or utilitarian terms. We often assume that it’s inherent virtues are so self-evident that no one but a moron or a truly diabolical sociopath. Until very recently, the President wasn’t going out making a clear, understandable case for why universal healthcare is both a moral imperative and an economic benefit. Yes, there probably still would be people who believe that this is a Sovietofascist conspiracy to eliminate political enemies (there will ALWAYS be those guys), but lately it’s sort of felt like the Right is going “DEATH PANELS!!! BOOGA BOOGA!!!!!!” and the Left is retiring to the coffee house to chat amongst themselves and go “can you believe how stupid and/or evil these guys are?”

    Tuesday, September 15, 2009 at 12:57 pm | Permalink
  30. Sam Holloway wrote:

    Sady says: “How blatantly manipulative is it to present yourself as the only person who cares about 9/11 victims?”

    Was that intended as hyperbole? I think the reason the Cuba sequence works is that Moore assumes the viewer– indeed, by extension, most of the U.S. public– cares about the 9/11 victims. Which, I think, underscores the point of “Sicko”: most of us care about our fellow citizens enough to want them all to have access to health care, yet we’re stuck with a system that denies it to too many. Of course, if you are predisposed to seeing Moore as ‘manipulative’ (i.e. dishonest), then you might walk clear around that point without seeing it.

    Sady says: “”…like, “wow, things are so super in Cuba!”"

    The sequence is intended to hammer a couple of interlaced points of irony: first, that a relatively repressive and seriously impoverished island nation was eager to give medical care to U.S. citizens who had served their country in a time of need only to be abandoned by that country’s pitiful, profit-driven health care system. Could you argue that the Cuban regime was only too eager to use Moore’s schtick as a chance to make itself look good at our government’s expense? Sure, you could. But it would take an incredible level of intellectual dishonesty to ignore that it wouldn’t have been possible without the horrid domestic medical/political situation Moore spent the movie illuminating. Second, there is the facile irony of an illegal U.S. prison which is situated on a quasi-legally obtained chunk of Cuban soil providing medical care to presumed ‘terrorists’ while U.S. citizens (ostensible victims of terrorism) can’t get their illnesses taken care of.

    Sady says: “…how the Hell do frequent-N-word-utterer Marilyn Manson and “Team America” co-creator Matt Stone get through interviews without saying something that’s blatantly offensive to the liberal base Moore’s trying to endear them to?”

    If I believed that Stone and Manson go through their entire conscious lives spewing obscenities and trying to shock people, I might ask the same question. On the other hand, if I allow that Stone and Manson are (at least on some level) shrewd observers of popular and political culture (which might help explain their commercial success), then I can understand why they are sometimes able to hold lucid conversations without blurting out epithets and insults.

    Sady says: “Oh, or the part in “Bowling for Columbine” where he basically argues that there’s no racism in Canada.”

    Does “basically” mean ‘not at all, but I’m on a Moore-bashing roll so let me be’? C’mon, Sady. I didn’t take that away from BfC. I did take away the implication– one which has a firm basis in historical analysis– that Canada doesn’t have anything close to the deeply ingrained and omnipresent racism that exists in the U.S. That’s not the same thing as ‘basically’ saying there’s no racism in Canada. Or maybe it is, depending on what ‘basically’ means.

    Okay, Sady, I get it. You don’t like Michael Moore. But this– “I honestly believe that thinking people can, if we engage with them, choose the right course of action in most circumstances.” –is exactly what Moore tries to do. Is it a bit sneaky and heavy-handed at times? Maybe. But I give Moore’s fans far more credit than you do, primarily because I’m one of them. We can enjoy his artful bullshit precisely because we’re clever enough that it doesn’t obscure for us the message he’s trying to relate. When you figure out a better way of achieving the social justice for which you so nobly advocate, please be kind enough to share it with all of us ignorant rabble who muck about both to the right and the left beneath your Sensible and Moral precipice.

    Tuesday, September 15, 2009 at 1:51 pm | Permalink
  31. smadin wrote:

    OK, I’m back.

    Ashley:

    It seems like you’re saying that Michael Moore stands for Truth, Justice, and the American Way while Rush and Beck stand for putting puppies in burlap sacks and drowning them. As vile and contemptible as they are, I do actually believe that THEY believe that they are outrageous in service of some higher ideal. They believe that they are for Families and Freedom and Patriotism while the Left wants to molest your children, kill your babies, and execute old people via “death panels.” Sound familiar?

    I definitely didn’t mean to sound like I was claiming that. I’m pretty sure Moore himself thinks he’s for Truth, Justice and the American Way, and I’m equally sure (well, on my generous days. Sometimes I’m just pretty sure they’re all purely cynical manipulators who care only about their own profit and influence, but we’ll stick to “generous” for now) that O’Reilly, Beck and Limbaugh think they do. I’m just saying that 1) in pursuit of what they think of as Truth, Justice and the American Way, O’Reilly, Beck and Limbaugh say, I believe, proportionately way more things that aren’t true (and that they have ample opportunity to know aren’t true) than Moore; 2) I’m pretty sure the policies Beck, Limbaugh and O’Reilly advocate for are morally closer to putting puppies in a sack and tossing them in the river than the policies Moore advocates for; 3) Limbaugh, O’Reilly and Beck really do push eliminationist rhetoric, and that rhetoric really does have an effect on weak-minded people — like Scott Roeder and Jim Adkisson. Moore does not, so far as I know, spend a significant amount of time saying or implying that people he disagrees with politically don’t deserve to live, or play-acting political assassinations, etc. It beggars belief to suggest that right-wing pundits can’t imagine that their hate-filled rhetoric might inspire some small fraction of the audience they’ve been telling, for decades in some cases, that The Liberals want to kill them, take their possessions, and give them to undeserving Other People, to pick up a gun and “do something about it.” (OK, maybe Beck can’t, he’s not exactly one of the leading intellectual lights of movement conservatism; but O’Reilly and Limbaugh may be hateful and bigoted, but they aren’t stupid.)

    All of which can be construed as praise of Moore — but it’s mighty faint praise, when you think about it. I have no intention of saying Moore’s a saint, only that I still think it’s a real stretch to compare what he does with what the people normally held up as “equivalent” to him on the conservative side do.

    (Incidentally, Rush gets considerable fat-hate from the left as well).

    Although I have to object again to the casual reference to “the left” as though it were a monolith, it’s certainly true that a lot of lefties do find it easier to mock Limbaugh’s weight than his ideas. You’ll never, ever find me defending them for doing that. It both undermines the principles they claim to hold, and shows remarkable intellectual laziness.

    Tuesday, September 15, 2009 at 3:18 pm | Permalink
  32. Sady wrote:

    @Sam: Well, I won’t start by arguing that you didn’t substantively engage with most of my points about Moore’s style and tactics. I guess that was a long comment and you wouldn’t have been able to engage with all of them, so. Unforch, the style and tactics were really the point of the post, so…

    1. ON CANADA: You’re not engaging that the segment in question presented Canada as cartoonishly harmonious and non-racist. It didn’t SAY there was LESS racism in Canada, it just focused on how happy and awesome Michael Moore’s – what? Hours? Days? – in Canada were and how this one black dude who speaks for all black dudes everywhere says that he hasn’t experienced racism in Canada so it MUST BE SUPER AWESOME. Tone, tone, tone. In filmmaking, tone – the way things are shot, the background music, the editing – is everything. And Moore glossed over what racism there is in Canada – there is racism in Canada, as it turns out! – in favor of presenting it as a utopia and presenting his no racism = no gun violence point, which is not TOTALLY wrong, but logically sloppy and a vast oversimplification of both racism and gun violence.

    2. ON MARILYN MANSON AND MATT STONE. The point is that neither of these guys are the liberal-friendly figures Moore paints them as for the sake of his point. In particular, I think it’s reprehensible to include someone who includes the word “nigger” in his song lyrics as a Figure of Compassion and Reason in a movie where you ALSO argue that racism fuels gun violence – and it certainly fueled the Columbine attacks. (It must be that there were WMD factories in town, right? Except that they didn’t manufacture WMDs at that factory by the time Moore went there? Or when the Columbine attack took place?) Homophobia and the construction of masculinity as force ALSO played a role in them, but Moore didn’t really deal with that, either. Oh, yeah, and the misleading, note-for-note South Park rip-off. That was a stellar moment of “intellectual honesty,” as you might put it.

    3. ON CUBA. Um, no. Any nuance got lost when Moore did the very same thing that he did to Canada, painting it as a land of fun background music and sunshiny montages where 9/11 victims (Michael Moore cares about 9/11 victims! Look at him caring! On camera! You can truly see that Michael Moore is a good person, with all the on-camera caring he is doing!) can at last be healed. It’s fucking manipulative. Cuba as the Promised Land, except (I guess) for the people who live there.

    4. ON DEFENSIVENESS. Look. I get that Moore is a patron saint of the Liberal Dudes. But is it out of line for me to note that most of the people who are lining up to defend him so vehemently here have male or male-genderable screen names? (Sorry if I’m gendering any of you wrong – I clicked through to see if you identified, if I didn’t know you, and mostly got male identifications or a lack of positive identification either way.) And that (anecdote as data – hey, Moore can do it, why not me?) most of the ardent Moore fans or Moore converts I’ve met are white men, and that the whole Air-American discourse I’m critiquing tends to be predominately white and male dominated? Maybe some of us can stand apart from the hand job Moore is giving to our self-righteous liberal sensibilities because we can SEE that there’s more than one point of commonality between him, O’Reilly, Limbaugh, and Beck: their privilege, and its corresponding license to be outraged in public without being tarred as a “bitch” or an “angry black person” or what have you. And we can stand apart from it enough to critique it because it DOESN’T cater to us as directly as it caters to white men with privilege and the corresponding fear that they will be prevented from enjoying that privilege to the fullest by The Liberal Socialists or The Capitalist Fat Cats. Moore doesn’t substantively engage with race, gender, and sexuality across his films. He uses them, sporadically, to make larger points about The Proletariat. Which, in the absence of a clear, continuous engagement with race, sexuality, and gender, is therefore implicitly straight, white, and male. And his attempts to engage with those other realities are often shallow, inadequate, and self-congratulatory. (I remember looking through “Dude, Where’s My Country” to see if he ever talked about gender, and I got the same shallow, essentializing, condescending “women are sooooo superior to us and would never start any wars for they are gentle forest creatures that bear the Gift of Life” that I’m used to seeing from fake allies that don’t actually know shit or care to know it.) I’m not saying I want Moore to pander to me. God, no. I want him to stop pandering, period. And I’m not even saying that there aren’t women who engage in the same oversimplified, middle-of-the-road, privilege-friendly discourse. But it’s interesting, the patterns that emerge in these samples.

    Tuesday, September 15, 2009 at 4:20 pm | Permalink
  33. smadin wrote:

    Sady:

    Those are excellent arguments. And probably it seemed to you that they were the understood background of your criticism of Moore in the post; to me (and this may very well be just me!) it wasn’t as obvious, because the vast majority of the time when I see criticism of Moore, it doesn’t cover substantive ground like that, it doesn’t discuss his filmmaking technique, it just asserts that he’s “crazy” or “wild-eyed” or “radical” or “angry,” and usually makes fun of his body size.

    I’d like to emphasize here that, in case it wasn’t clear in my original comments, I realize you didn’t do those things; it’s just that because I’m used to people taking Michael Moore’s awfulness as self-evident, I was taken aback by your first couple paragraphs. I’m sticking to my basic position that Moore is really not equivalent to the extremist pundits on the right, but thank you for the clarification — not having actually watched any of Moore’s stuff, I know things about him only through coverage of him, which does tend to be more of the contentless, “he’s self-evidently terrible” sort. (I think the wingnuts of the world, and the “mainstream” pundits, the Broders and Brookses, love Michael Moore, because he gives someone they can point to and say “see? the left is just as bad as the right!” and never have to defend any of the shit that, for example, O’Reilly says, because they’ve shifted the focus of the argument.)

    And furthermore,

    and I don’t mean to say you’re doing things;

    I don’t know what the hell is wrong with my typing today. That should have been “this,” not “things.” I expect you are doing things! Which things, exactly, well, <shrug>

    To go back to my first comment on this thread, I absolutely agree that it’s perilous to believe in your own righteousness, no matter what your philosophy or cause. If you’re Good, and especially if the “other side” is Bad, it’s all too easy to justify doing things in service to your side or opposition to theirs that, done by someone who wasn’t Good, would be blameworthy.

    I’m not willing to give up the word “evil,” because I think it carries a lot of important moral weight, but like I said, actions are evil. It may be effective in the short term, but I think it’s always bad strategy in the long term to call people evil.

    Tuesday, September 15, 2009 at 4:22 pm | Permalink
  34. Sam Holloway wrote:

    Sady, I have to concede that you and I are seeing different things when we watch Moore’s movies. What you see as deliberate dishonesty, I see as something else. Furthermore, it still looks like you’re proceeding from the dishonesty premise to assume that Moore’s fans are being duped by the filmmaker. Maybe the folks you know are incapable of critical thinking when they sit in front of a movie, and are more influenced by ‘tone’ than by facts, but my gears don’t turn like that. I dunno, maybe it’s because I’m not a white male. Michael Moore is not my Saint, partly because I’m not Catholic and partly because I don’t its a good idea to make heroes of fallible creatures. Moore is just a clever liberal who’s built himself a lucrative and notorious platform for shouting out about things about which I also happen to be passionate. I don’t always agree with him, especially when he makes political endorsements (like he did for Barack Obama). But my disagreements with him will be based on things he’s actually done and said, not based on a version of those things that I’ve manufactured in my head.

    Finally, Sady, I am tickled pink by this: “Moore doesn’t substantively engage with race, gender, and sexuality across his films. He uses them, sporadically, to make larger points about The Proletariat. Which, in the absence of a clear, continuous engagement with race, sexuality, and gender, is therefore implicitly straight, white, and male.”

    Jesus H. Christ; does the man have to put on a dashiki and start quoting Malcolm X? March at a Gay Pride Parade? Newsflash, comrade: Michael Moore is straight, white, and male. If you want to see some films that deal with the aforementioned issues in greater depth, I highly recommend the Media Education Foundation; they’ve got a plethora of really good docs to that effect. I don’t expect that from Michael Moore, though, so the lack of it ain’t a deal-breaker.

    All that said, Sady, it is a pleasure reading you. You are a delightfully serpentine curmudgeon.

    Tuesday, September 15, 2009 at 5:19 pm | Permalink
  35. al_zorra wrote:

    I think you’re wrong in your assessment of Michael Moore. Particularly in light of Sicko.

    Also when it comes to Air America. What you heard in terms of morning broadcast has long been gone. But it did bring the world the splendid Rachel Maddow and it should have done better by the even more splendid Laura Flanders. I don’t always agree with Ed Schultz, but he’s always carrying water for the Dems, and the Dems can hardly be bothered to do so for themselves.

    Mark Green though — don’t vote for him. He’s really screwed up the place. He’s so rich and lazy he can’t be bothered to come in from his beach home on the Island to do a show. He literally phones it in. And his bro is this huge real estate moghul (who bought the station for his little brother). Don’t vote for him! I repeat! :)

    Love, C.

    Tuesday, September 15, 2009 at 6:17 pm | Permalink
  36. Ashley wrote:

    @Sam Holloway: You are probably not aware of this but your last post reeks of condescension and unexamined privilege.

    I don’t think that Sady implied at any point that Moore was just making shit up. Rather the editing choices in the making of the film have tendencies to A) Flatten really complex issues into simple formulas (i.e. the equation of racism with gun violence), B) The use of women and persons of color as tokens in service of his argument without engaging their experiences in any substantive way, and C) Creative editing of interviews to make subjects look better or worse than they otherwise might. One can definitely argue that the last is simply the way things are.

    However, with regard to B, it is, to me, sort of reprehensible to suggest that Moore has no responsibility to engage the experiences of non-straight, white males responsibility. To shuffle that work off on the entities you named, none of which have quite the reach of a Moore film, is to suggest that combatting racism, sexism, and homophobia–a huge fucking part of the progressive agenda, in fact–is entirely the responsibility of differentially empowered non-straight, white men. I shudder at the thought.

    Tuesday, September 15, 2009 at 8:44 pm | Permalink
  37. Ashley wrote:

    “Maybe some of us can stand apart from the hand job Moore is giving to our self-righteous liberal sensibilities because we can SEE that there’s more than one point of commonality between him, O’Reilly, Limbaugh, and Beck: their privilege, and its corresponding license to be outraged in public without being tarred as a “bitch” or an “angry black person” or what have you.”

    THIS.

    Tuesday, September 15, 2009 at 8:46 pm | Permalink
  38. beth wrote:

    “Jesus H. Christ; does the man have to put on a dashiki and start quoting Malcolm X? March at a Gay Pride Parade? Newsflash, comrade: Michael Moore is straight, white, and male. If you want to see some films that deal with the aforementioned issues in greater depth, I highly recommend the Media Education Foundation; they’ve got a plethora of really good docs to that effect. I don’t expect that from Michael Moore, though, so the lack of it ain’t a deal-breaker.”

    i think i’m stating the obvious when i say that comments like this are absolutely at the core of the perpetuation of sexism and racism in our country. assuming that privileged people are not responsible for these issues– that sexism and racism is sometimes JUST NOT RELEVANT to the discussion–is an infuriatingly self-absorbed perspective. it’s always relevant. you always have to talk about it, because it’s always there, and it always hurts, and it IS your responsibility. and mine. and michael moore’s.

    Tuesday, September 15, 2009 at 10:54 pm | Permalink
  39. beth wrote:

    i should have refreshed the page before commenting, but i’m glad the point was made earlier!

    Tuesday, September 15, 2009 at 10:57 pm | Permalink
  40. erin wrote:

    I’m kind of bummed about the Michael Moore analysis in this post because it seemed so abbreviated. I tend to appreciate Michael Moore’s films simply because they get some radical-ish perspective into mainstream movie theaters. I agree that he’s surely not the world’s most sensitive filmmaker, and he can be manipulative, but, jeez, Sady. How about you tear him up in his own post at least, with a few points made with examples from his movies, rather than this comparison with Tarantino, which I think is sort of overly rhetorical and a little confusing.

    Wednesday, September 16, 2009 at 12:04 am | Permalink
  41. Sam Holloway wrote:

    I see that I need to put aside my special Black Man privilege– the privilege I must have been granted once a ‘brotha’ moved on up into the White House– before I can engage this topic.

    Thank you, Ashley and Beth, for illustrating my point and bringing up another salient one. Moore doesn’t pass muster because he doesn’t delve deeply enough into specific issues in ways that satisfy you? And I’m the one with “infuriatingly self-absorbed perspective”? Yeesh. The Media Education Foundation is a wonderful outlet from which my privileged black self has bought several excellent low-budget documentaries. These docs are as available to any of you as are Michael Moore movies. If they don’t have a ‘wider reach,’ it’s because you folks haven’t been buying enough of them.

    Seriously, I think this is why progressive causes have such a hard time moving forward. Instead of attempting to build coalitions with people who are on your side but maybe not seeing things exactly as you do, you flame them for their perceived lack of doctrinal purity. Ashley– really, accusing a black man of assuming racism isn’t relevant? I am not Barack Obama (and I wasn’t born female, so I guess you can still wield that accusation safely, if you choose). These issues are near and dear to me, but I don’t expect Michael Moore to see them as I do, nor do I expect him to delve deeply into them in his movies. He can stick to what he does best, the mass-market Marxism (or whatever), and I’ll dig him for that. I won’t waste my time getting blood from a turnip; I’ll enjoy the turnip for what it is, and get my blood from something with veins and a heart. Have any of you ever tried to engage Moore directly with your concerns (which I think are a bit offside, but that could just be my privileged perspective)?

    Once again, I understand that some of you folks don’t like Michael Moore. But maybe you should just stick to stating that, because your justifications are chock full of the intellectual dishonesty that you accuse Moore of displaying. Pardon me while I go exercise my black male privilege.

    Wednesday, September 16, 2009 at 2:45 am | Permalink
  42. Sady wrote:

    “I don’t always agree with [Moore], especially when he makes political endorsements (like he did for Barack Obama). But my disagreements with him will be based on things he’s actually done and said, not based on a version of those things that I’ve manufactured in my head.”

    This was the classiest bit, for me. You dodge all the specific examples I’ve given and specific points I’ve raised. Then you argue that if you and I see the same Moore movie, and you like it, and I don’t, YOU are basing your like on “things he’s actually done and said,” whereas I am MAKING THINGS UP inside my crazy hysterical lady-brain. You can’t even argue most the points I’ve raised about his movies. Instead, you go straight to suggesting that maybe I HALLUCINATED them, because I MAKE SHIT UP all the time, in my brain-case. No, there’s no sexism there, Sam. None at all.

    “I understand that some of you folks don’t like Michael Moore.”

    And I understand that you like him. Don’t assume that this makes your perspective automatically more valid.

    “Have any of you ever tried to engage Moore directly with your concerns (which I think are a bit offside, but that could just be my privileged perspective)?”

    Why, strangely, I have not! Considering that Moore is a celebrity, and therefore 100% accessible to me, and would surely welcome confrontational tactics used by a stranger (his fans are so good at being confronted, after all!) it is very strange that I have not walked right up to him and directly ASKED him to make his “political” movies… you know, better with the politics thing. Oh, and less blatantly manipulative.

    “Your justifications are chock full of… intellectual dishonesty.”

    On the contrary: I think the Moore critics in this thread are thinking about what they say and saying what they mean. Not saying whatever they think will score them points. You, on the other hand! When you’re afraid of losing an argument to someone, you accuse them of lying, and you fail to pinpoint any examples from their arguments. You just get more dismissive and defensive as you go.

    You know what’s intellectually dishonest? People saying that the criticisms of Moore are right on some level, but that they shouldn’t be made, because Moore is on the RIGHT SIDE. Their side. It’s the problem I wrote the post about, this specific kind of willed blindness. Basically, I’m going to leave this thread thinking that, as far as some people are concerned, Michael Moore could set a puppy on fire and throw it through someone’s bedroom window, as long as it was a BAD puppy and he threw it through a REPUBLICAN window. And that makes me deeply cynical about these progressive values we claim to hold, and to see in Moore. Once politics are divorced from ethics, you can count me out.

    Wednesday, September 16, 2009 at 7:28 am | Permalink
  43. Sam Holloway wrote:

    Sady, once again you accuse me of something that you are doing with your very accusation. Hence my accusation of intellectual dishonesty. Case in point:
    “…whereas I am MAKING THINGS UP inside my crazy hysterical lady-brain.”

    Where do you get a sexist attack out of anything I said? Furthermore, am I accusing you of lying, or am I accusing you of ‘thinking like a female’? I can see where you’d get the former, because that’s related to what I said, but the latter? Is it because I’m a man that my arguments are sexist? You’re kidding me, right? Well, at least you have the decency to leave the racism allegation alone; you could easily have called me a ‘self-hating Negro.’ I love, though, that you close with a nod to ethics, which must mean ‘claiming the moral high ground by summarily declaring your own altitude.’

    At least Michael Moore peddles his b.s. with a nudge and a wink. You dispense yours with the humor and tact (and ‘ethics’) of a Grand Inquisitor. Election time must be a barrel of fun for you.

    Wednesday, September 16, 2009 at 8:05 am | Permalink
  44. Sady wrote:

    You know, Sam, I don’t like to derail these threads into long one-on-one arguments. But saying that YOU are dealing with THE TRUTH, whereas I am dealing with “things I manufactured inside my own head,” is basically telling me that I’m making shit up. And you know as well as I do that there’s a history of silencing women by telling them they’re too sensitive and imagining things and clearly making up their experiences, whereas men are OBJECTIVE and REASONABLE. As a matter of fact, we are talking about ideas, which I “manufactured inside my own head” because that’s how ideas work. But you “manufactured” your ideas “inside your head” too, and your claims to objectivity are BS. And now you start with the ad hominems.

    Yeah, ethics matter. And I’m concerned with working them out, here, in this space. At no point did I say I was perfect. But I’m trying, which is more than I can say for Moore fans who think that his questionable ethics shouldn’t be a point of concern because they agree with his politics.

    I’d say more about that phenomenon, but maybe you should read the post, because that’s what it’s about.

    Wednesday, September 16, 2009 at 8:20 am | Permalink
  45. McDuff wrote:

    Firstly, Ashley!

    I mean, seriously, McDuff, I was worn out by the 5th paragraph. It’s like there’s a legion of Tarantino fans out there monitoring the interwebs just in case anyone has to audacity to say anything bad about Tarantino.

    Actually, Tiger Beatdown is one of my “read everything” RSS feeds on the old Google Reader. And I agree with, like, 86.3% of what Sady says on a regular basis. So, y’know, when she says something with which I disagree I am sort of likely to read it. Interestingly, one can hate Seth Rogen and quite like Quentin Tarantino. Damn people and their differing opinions!

    Oh and you are going to hate this reply. It has way more than five paragraphs in it!!

    Next, WALL O TEXT:

    This isn’t a choice between Moore and Geithner, it’s a choice between responsible critique and irresponsible critique.

    “Responsible critique” sounds like “Decent Left” to me.

    One of the things that gets me about Moore Criticism is that nobody can really point to anything he’s ever done to make things worse. Sure, he sort of clowns around out there and gets it wrong on occasion, but I haven’t seen Moore actually do any damage. One might say that he hasn’t been very successful in getting things changed, but, well, he wouldn’t be. “Responsible change” is bending over and voting for Obama – “what are you going to do, proggies, vote Republican?” – and that gets you the US Treasury continuing its golden era as a subsidiary of Goldman Sachs. I’m all for a bit of irresponsibility. I mean, perhaps Moore should be encouraging people to do the things that have resulted in change in the past, like burning the White House to the ground or going out and getting arrested or pointlessly massacred or something, but that would seem to be even more irresponsible.

    It’s deeply exploitative, especially coming from someone like Quentin Tarantino, who as far as I know is not a rape survivor, a woman, or Jewish, to take violent acts that people of those populations fear or have endured and use them as an excuse for some cool-looking violence. … I do this because the dominance of the privileged has resulted in their voices being silenced or lost, and because privileged people assume the right to speak for them while not creating space for them to speak for themselves.

    I get this, but at the same time it’s one of those things that muddles the message and the messenger. Like, it somehow suggests that if the film had been made by a Jewish Rape Survivor that all the negative messages wouldn’t be negative any more? Or that any messages that might be positive aren’t positive because a privileged person is saying them? I appreciate that you can’t absolutely separate the person saying the thing from the thing being said, but to a degree it’s essential, surely, or there’s no such thing as an “ally”?

    (incidentally, Amanda Marcotte, who is at least two of the things you said, thought it was good and doesn’t get what the feminist handwringing is all about. Not that this means your opinions are necessarily wrong because of HAHA TRUMPS or anything, but just to say that disagreeing with you and liking Tarantino in general isn’t the sole province of white male types.)

    Also, I think that one of Tarantino’s chief draws is that he does “postmodern” in such a big, clunking, obvious way that even people who normally don’t get it can congratulate themselves on enjoying this whole “postmodernism” thing. He panders. If he were really as smart and bleeding-edge as his fans think he is, I think he’d be a lot less popular.

    BURN! Haha! I am not as clever at this whole media criticism thing as I like to think I am, and the fact that I like Tarantino just proves it! This was a very good snooty putdown, good job.

    War is a constant in human life and if filmmakers are artists, then they should be able to tackle the subject of war (like all facets of human experience) responsibly, and do what art does: make us SEE it, make us feel it, bring it into the realm of human comprehension.

    Tarantino does this, and does it well, in Basterds. You haven’t seen it, so you won’t have seen the opening scene where the “Jew Hunter” comes round and convinces the French farmer to rat out Shoshanna’s family to save his own, or the scene in the basement, or the restaurant scene. So, um, yeah. I guess that’s my response to that. Did I mention before about not watching movies and how it puts you in a bad place to criticise them? You might walk out of the cinema and disagree that Tarantino does war well, but I guess we’ll never know. As it is, out of the two of us, I’ve seen the film he made and you’ve seen the film you think he made. It’s really hard to have a conversation about what a director did well or badly in the specific if only one person has seen what actually happened on screen.

    And I’m not saying SPR is a bad movie. It’s just that it’s just as guilty of sensationalising war as the rest of them. Perhaps more so because it deliberately sets out to be “real” and “authentic”, which is the biggest kind of fakery there is. “Oh woe the horrors of war” is just as escapist as “yay war is glorious!”

    And the whole “the Jewish heroes are morally equivalent to Nazis and that’s the point” thing – first, it’s my understanding that, if so, he’s trying to have it both ways by also encouraging us to have sympathy for Shoshanna and to triumph in her revenge. (Even though she, you know, leads people into an enclosed area and burns them to death.) And second, as a whole lot of people have pointed out, if that IS the point, it’s FUCKING VILE. You really want a movie in which Jewish people are shown as sadistic, inhumane monsters equal to the regime that systematically imprisoned, tortured, and attempted to exterminate them?

    Or, I don’t know, maybe don’t watch the movie after all. But just… gah. Movie in your head vs real movie! This is HARD WORK.

    Look, it’s explicitly stated up front by Brad Pitt’s character that he wants his band of Jewish American Soldiers to “horrify” the Nazis – that’s what I meant when I said “it’s the point.” Their actions are purposefully terrifying, in part because they exist to spread fear and dissent in the ranks. They become myths. I know it would be nice to have this nice simple moral equivalence drawn up where Tarantino is equating Jews with Nazis to make some pretty explosions and as an excuse to have a gun battle but that is not the point of the movie at all, and if you watch the movie rather than the trailer it all becomes clear, mostly because Tarantino actually puts it on the screen for you to see and save people the work of having to type out what he did.

    (although, if they did, I really doubt that they would have used precisely the same tactics)

    I don’t think “precisely” is the right word here. Yeah, the Nazi high command are locked in a room and burned, which ironically echoes the things the did to the Jews, but it’s not “precisely” the same. Guerilla tactics against the powerful elites of a regime are not equivalent to systematic extermination.

    And it really can’t be interpreted as “glossing over” the history. I don’t think Tarantino suggested that this is what actually happened or that we should not be upset that the war was not ended by a fire in a cinema in 1943. It’s a what if. All of a sudden the roles are reversed, the opportunities are awarded for some members of the oppressed class to fight back, whether that is by joining the Allied military (which happened) or suddenly finding themselves in the right place at the right time and with the cards falling in the right place to take matters into their own hands. At no point does the message come over “look what the Jews could have done if they’d been pluckier little tykes”. In this film, in this envisioning of what might have been, there are individual Jews who are not victims, and through a little bit of narrative kung fu one of them ends the war. The entire reason for these people being in this place at this time is the system of systematic genocide which is going on all around them. It’s not glossed over – it’s the motivation for the action. You can’t get more not-glossed-over than that.

    And, well, “suppose someone whose family had been slaughtered by a given regime was suddenly able to kill the high brass in that regime.” Would they try and take it? Probably, I think they would. We know it never happened, but it’s kind of insulting to suggest that taking out Hitler is actually on a moral par with the holocaust for all number of reasons, and that the Jews are so destined to be perpetually victims that had this opportunity ever actually fallen in their laps that they’d have been too high-minded to take it.

    You REALLY want someone to reduce Hitler, one of the most dangerous and reprehensible dictators of the twentieth century, to a movie villain so that he can be dispatched with the same ease and sensationalism as the villain in a Die Hard movie?

    Do I want Hitler, one of the most dangerous and reprehensible dictators of the twentieth century, to be taken down from his pedestal and revealed to be only a human being? Sure. That’s one of the reasons Der Untergang was a great movie too. Tom Cruise came within millimetres of dispatching Hitler in an explosion last year. Pointing out that Hitler can be killed with a bullet through the brain just as surely as any other human being, dictator or otherwise, is not saying that he didn’t slaughter millions of Jews. It’s just pointing out certain true facts about human anatomy.

    But! Here’s the thing – if we can ever use the word “evil”… we can use it in relation to Hitler, who orchestrated a genocide… But the word doesn’t fully account for the ways in which oppressive systems are constructed and maintained…
    most people who participate in those systems don’t set out with monstrosity in their hearts, ready to cause some pain and do some evil. They’re just presented with oppression as a norm, and so they oppress… that’s the extent to which most privileged people are consciously oppressive. Even though the things they do are, yes, very bad.

    Which is true, but the point I was making wasn’t about the people who work in the rank and file of the banks and who deny your loan because that’s what the policy does. Look, I don’t like using “evil” glibly either, but if it means anything at all it applies to the wilful destruction of others without care for their humanity. The people working in the concentration camps may not have had that full dose of whatever it is, but the people at the top like Hitler and Mengele did not just follow the system, they created the system (yes, OK, cultural pressures and etc etc and some people would argue if Hitler didn’t someone else would have, but I’d be inclined to suggest that the person best positioned to avoid the Holocaust was, in fact, Adolf Hitler, and that not avoiding it took more work than avoiding it). The people at the top, the aristocracy of our system have options. They have choices. And they choose not only to act a certain way, but to rig the game so that it favours them acting that way.

    Look, there are people who have bought their way into power specifically so they can more easily take money from poor people. That’s what credit card charges are for. They are designed specifically to transfer money from the poor to the rich. Maybe they didn’t used to be, back in the day. Who knows. We know what does happen in the halls of power, because the thing about barely cardboard cutout plutocrats is that they’re not as secretive as all that. You say it’s inflammatory (lordy lordy, not inflammatory!!) but systems such as the one we have do not simply happen. Yes, no single person is responsible for all of it, but some people are responsible for some bits of it, and they add up. They cannot be both smart enough to understand how best to construct the propaganda and stupid enough to believe what they are saying is not a lie. Perhaps evil is the wrong word, perhaps it fails to capture the nuance. But these people have agency. They make choices in an environment where alternative courses of action exist and where the consequences of those choices can be fully understood. They could choose, when at dinner with a Senator, to not ask him to change the law to favour usurers. To do so would not require any great leap of morality, it would require simply an internal moral acknowledgement that other people exist.
    Sociopath may be the wrong word, but then what’s the right one? The right word for the powerful who use their power and agency to deliberately (yup, I stand by this one) further afflict the afflicted and comfort the comfortable, nickel and dime at a time? I’d say Aristocrat, but then I’m from Europe, where we used to cut Aristocrats heads off and some say should never have stopped, so maybe that’s too inflammatory too. Whatever, I’d suggest that using whatever words are necessary to reinforce the notion that the “system” does not spring ex nihilo from the world but is in fact reinforced according to the desires of particular individual people, and that these particular individual people, with foreknowledge, with something that doesn’t even seem malicious as it merely seems unconcerned with the basic humanity of others, these words are good words to use, because this is a good idea to get across. The system can’t be beaten. It’s huge and it’s too big and it will crush you. But people, ah, people are different. You can’t beat the system, but you can beat the people the system is designed to protect (hint: mostly not you).

    And right now, people are open to that kind of discussion because they can SEE that people don’t always end up poor due to their own bad behavior; they know that the people who run companies, who trade on Wall Street, are just as responsible for poverty as anyone else.

    Yeah, sure, but the fix is already in and you’re not getting the change you can believe in, are you? We saw how the bailouts happened. And hands up everyone in the room who thinks a “public option” of any value will pass? Still a few. Bet you $100.

    It ain’t Michael Moore’s fault that “health” “care” “reform” is going to make things worse for the people it should make it better for. (Yup, worse. Government mandates that you have to buy private insurance without a solid, cheap government insurance option for people? Can you say Ka-Ching for the insurance lobby! Change you can believe in!) Fact is, when the last best hope of humanity was the Democratic Party you were always going to lose, and lose hard. Notice how the people ostensibly on “the other side” have managed to whip up people into a media-friendly frenzy based on unreasonable, hackish, obvious lies? Notice how they’re getting the play and the people with the facts on their side, even the inflammatory facts, are somewhere south of “who cares?” Yeah. How is that reasonable discussion thing working out for you?

    The people who can see that those who are poor are not poor because of their own fault in America are not those who make the decisions to change the system.

    You appeal to reason, compassion, and lived experience, not fear, hate and the capacity to dehumanize and demonize the opposition. I think that’s the worthier path.

    Dehumanising other people is what insurance companies and banks do, or people who start wars, or people who perpetuate genocides. Judging someone based on the decisions that they have made is not dehumanising them. It’s calling them to account. It’s ascribing them personal responsibility for their own actions. It is, in fact, humanising them. It’s letting them have that thing we liberals have had at the core of our political philosophy since the 19th century – the idea of personal agency. Let us not pretend that their class privilege is non-existent, that their agency is non-existent, that they get to hide behind the system. They are people, who make decisions, which impoverish people, and which kill people. Moore, for all his faults, does one thing very well, and that is to put the faces of the people who make the decisions out in public. To humanise them.

    And, I dunno, maybe if they wanted people to not throw around words like “evil” (incidentally, it’s actually a different thing to call a system evil than to call a person that, pavlovian responses to the word notwithstanding) which might offend, maybe they should stop doing so many bad things that hurt other people.

    Perhaps if that message is the only one that gets across, that if people in positions of power take their responsibilities as human beings seriously that other people will be better off, then that will be a good thing. Perhaps if the way to do that is to get people to look in the mirror and say “hey, I don’t want to be evil, perhaps I had better start not doing bad things with my life,” then that might happen. God knows it’s probably the only option left, quite frankly. We’re so busy being reasonable that they’re not scared of the angry mob. They know their angry mob beats the shit out of our angry mob. So all that’s left, the only thing that’s capable of getting through the system to them, is to somehow appeal to their sense of personal moral dignity.

    So, yeah, we’re fucked, but it’s not because Michael Moore is irresponsible.

    Wednesday, September 16, 2009 at 8:32 am | Permalink
  46. McDuff wrote:

    I TYPE TOO SLOWLY!!

    3. ON CUBA. Um, no. Any nuance got lost when Moore did the very same thing that he did to Canada, painting it as a land of fun background music and sunshiny montages where 9/11 victims (Michael Moore cares about 9/11 victims! Look at him caring! On camera! You can truly see that Michael Moore is a good person, with all the on-camera caring he is doing!) can at last be healed. It’s fucking manipulative. Cuba as the Promised Land, except (I guess) for the people who live there.

    Look at it another way. Even Fidel fucking Castro could see the propaganda advantage in providing healthcare to the victims of 9/11 – the most sympathetic, propaganda-friendly group of people in contemporary USAian history. The people running your country, land of the free, home of the brave, pursuers of happiness, spreaders of liberty, either could not work that out or knew that they didn’t have to bother because, hey, what the fuck are you going to do about it, prole?

    Manipulative propaganda, sure. But certain facts had to be in place for that to happen. The US system is so terrible, even Cuba looks good in comparison! Yay USA!

    Maybe some of us can stand apart from the hand job Moore is giving to our self-righteous liberal sensibilities because we can SEE that there’s more than one point of commonality between him, O’Reilly, Limbaugh, and Beck: their privilege, and its corresponding license to be outraged in public without being tarred as a “bitch” or an “angry black person” or what have you. And we can stand apart from it enough to critique it because it DOESN’T cater to us as directly as it caters to white men with privilege and the corresponding fear that they will be prevented from enjoying that privilege to the fullest by The Liberal Socialists or The Capitalist Fat Cats.

    Guilty as charged – I’m a white dude. A white straight dude. A white straight dude from Europe, no less, which Moore has a fawning love affair with. And I get, quite well, that I have a right to certain emotions that you don’t have. No useful ones, like compassion or empathy, but by God do I have a right to be angry at shit! I mean, I don’t. Not very often. Clouds of unbelievable cynicism often get in the way of real anger. But I’ve got all the male cultural training to break into it. Had I but the time I could engage in a deconstruction of masculine aggression from the point of view of a male who lives here and likes to think he’s past it, at least to the same extent that feminist women think they’re past the pressures put on them by their culture, i.e. not especially but at least I know what I am dealing with. But I don’t have time, so imagine it went here! Moving on, emotions happen and it’s not always the best thing in the world to neuter them to ineffectiveness, even stereotypically masculine emotions.

    Because you know what would be great? If women could get just as angry – just as, dare I say it, inflamed – about issues that matter to them without being told they’re crazy bitches. Like, I read Tiger Beatdown and go “hey, Sady is angry about something, and she is a smart and clever lady, perhaps this means the thing she is angry about is worth thinking about and maybe addressing”. Anger – insert another set of a) white male/ b) I know! caveats here – is a useful tool on occasion. You use it. Moore sometimes uses it, albeit significantly less often than Beck or O’Reilly. It’s part of the tapestry of communication and, OK, I know that gender assumptions are complicated and that things don’t always go this way, but in this instance I’d rather that the message about class not be obscured, no matter who’s lumpenly and clownishly saying it. I also think that there is a role for genuine disagreement here, that it doesn’t make you a bad person for disagreeing with me, and that it’s entirely possible that part of the difference is rooted in my gender privilege. But then, just being a male should only make what I say on the subject automatically suspect, not automatically wrong. Subtle difference, but one I like to try and maintain.

    Moore doesn’t substantively engage with race, gender, and sexuality across his films. He uses them, sporadically, to make larger points about The Proletariat. Which, in the absence of a clear, continuous engagement with race, sexuality, and gender, is therefore implicitly straight, white, and male. And his attempts to engage with those other realities are often shallow, inadequate, and self-congratulatory.

    This is a very fair point. But it seems to be a different point from what you were saying at the beginning, which (it appeared to me) was that we should never call people evil even if they do bad things because of all the problems that have been associated with calling people evil in the past.

    I mean, I would love it if Moore had addressed the gender/patriarchy thing to go with the “system of fear” in BfC. It was an incomplete film because it didn’t, and ultimately dissatisfying to people who were already way beyond the simplistic analysis he was making and waiting for him to get to a study of gender and power and privilege and hierarchy and how it all plays into the construction of race and fear in American culture but also in the west. Believe me, there are things I wish Moore had said. But even so, it nudged the public discourse that bit further along from the NRA “guns don’t kill people, people do” nonsense.

    It’s very obvious that Moore is a white working to middle class man making movies for the white working to middle classes in America, and he makes choices that are based on that audience. His challenges, as scary as they are to people in charge, are rallying cries for that white base against the rich and powerful. Could he do more? Fucking right he could. But I suspect that as much as some of it comes from his inability to see that there’s more, some of it is also a political game, an effort to play to a particular crowd. And not alienating the audience with the biggest chance of shifting things is smart. Maybe not long-term smart. Maybe not what you or even I would do. But I can’t bring myself to look at the decisions he makes and say “what a bastard!”

    Ultimately, Moore doesn’t go far enough, or deep enough, or do it well enough to do any more but nudge the terms of the debate. But “the debate” is an unimportant sideshow anywyay: the fix is in, and until something really inflammatory – i.e. something that causes an actual fire – comes along, the only thing that will happen is the slow, painful creep towards some semblance of the idea of progress. Moore could make better movies for a smaller audience, or he could make big, garish, simplistic movies for a big audience. If he was the kind of film-maker who made complex, world-challenging documentaries that challenged not just the obvious division of power between the aristocracy and the rest of us but also the ways in which we support and encourage that division of power by playing it out throughout the whole of society etc etc, he’d be very well appreciated by the six people who knew about him.

    As I said, he doesn’t do much, but he doesn’t hurt much either, and he does it while being on the right side. Liberal tendencies towards moral relativism and second guessing our own actual rightness aside, I’ve got enough faith in my own rudimentary understanding that treating other people like things is bad to be relatively secure in calling this side “the right side” to be on, and giving some people a bit more benefit of the doubt because they’re clowns for us rather than clowns for them. Colour me partisan if you must, but hey, honesty about my implicit biases must be some sort of virtue, right?

    OK, this is also where I don’t mind being more absolutist in language than you are comfortable with. I am cool throwing that shit around not because I believe there is an objective standard of good and evil to which someone can be held up, but because it makes a point, because it’s a fucking horrible thing to say to someone, but some people do things which are bad enough that worrying about their precious feelings is way the fuck beyond my interests. Sometimes one has to lay a line in the sand and say “let us now be unreasonable together.” Yes, some people do that and the results are bad. That’s what you get for building your cultural software in hardware that’s made out of retrofitted monkeys. Frankly, the problems we are trying to work out are not actually that difficult but we’re working with the intellectual equivalents of stone knives here – we’ve got to use what we’ve got or we’re not going to get anywhere at all.

    Wednesday, September 16, 2009 at 10:38 am | Permalink
  47. emjaybee wrote:

    Sady, even though you kind of already did so in comments, it would be interesting to see your criticisms of Moore, as a filmmaker, all in one piece. Because like others, I did kind of think your piece was typical “hey liberals are crazy too, let’s all be sensible here in the middle” stuff.

    And maybe talk about some liberal documentarians/agitators you do like, if any. And examples of valid ways of using film to promote a viewpoint, that isn’t manipulative? Because that’s something I do not see discussed anywhere.

    Re: “evil” it is tough, because I for one can’t sit there and nod and say “Well I’m sure O’Reilly really does believe he loves America” because that lets him off the hook. I *don’t* believe that. I believe he loves himself and has found a way to have money and fame by jumping up and down and spewing hate, and that at base he knows exactly what he’s doing, and even gets a thrill out of doing it, because he is filled with prejudice and rage. And that makes what he is doing evil because it knowingly causes harm.

    His situation is not parallel to Germans in WWII, because to stand up to the Nazi regime involved considerable personal risk. To stop doing what he is doing risks nothing but embarrassment and loss of prestige, but he won’t be carted off to a camp and gassed. On the contrary, if he were truly repentant and wished to right the wrongs he’d done, he’d have speaking gigs for life with liberal causes (she said cynically).

    Wednesday, September 16, 2009 at 11:18 am | Permalink
  48. Samantha b. wrote:

    McDuff, the wall o’ text lost me after a certain point, but I will say, per Sady’s “snotty” comment that Tarantino’s postmodernism is extremely derivative. That’s just called having a small knowledge of film history. It doesn’t really qualify as snotty. He’s edgy for people that really don’t do edgy. I mean, if you want to do parodic violence, have the stomach to try Haneke instead of Tarantino’s glibly stylish bs.

    Wednesday, September 16, 2009 at 12:16 pm | Permalink
  49. McDuff wrote:

    I gotta say, as a fan of pop culture in general, that the “I am more edgy and hipster than thou” tactic has truly never ever worked on me. I don’t like Tarantino’s work just because it’s edgy and it gets me in with the cool kids. At root, the best thing about him is the way he puts the photons onto the silver halide, which is something a lot of “edgy” European directors just can’t do as well. He is an expert at making “film”. At his most self-indulgent (Death Proof) he’s still never actually boring, which is something else you can’t really say about a great many self-consciously edgy film directors. I think the difference is, Tarantino doesn’t set out to be postmodern. He sets out to do his craft, a craft he’s worked through a lifetime of geeky immersion in the works of other people in the craft. The references to other works are playful, along the lines of Shaun of the Dead – self-aware not self-regarding. Tarantino enjoys movies. He enjoys movies so much he makes movies about movies about movies. He’s like a child playing in a giant cinema-sized sandbox, trying to do as much pure movie as he can do.

    And that’s even before you get to the scripts and the subject matter. That’s just the camera.

    But if you’re going to play the one-up game about who can refer to the obscure foreign language directors who do violence, I’ll just say that I’d take Chan-wook Park over Michael Haneke any day. If for no other reason than Park, like Tarantino, is a much better visual artist than Haneke. There’s nothing wrong with the flat, washed out visuals of his films and it’s a valid artistic way of going about things, but he doesn’t do the same things with a frame that Park or Tarantino do.

    Also, not sure how the “glib” comes in, but Tarantino’s films are definitely more stylised than Haneke’s. What can I say, I prefer that. Style, last I checked, wasn’t a vice in art.

    Wednesday, September 16, 2009 at 1:55 pm | Permalink
  50. Sady wrote:

    “He’s like a child playing in a giant cinema-sized sandbox.”

    Yeah, I don’t think anyone missed that, really. I guess the difference is in whether you find it childlike (charming!) or childish (smack that kid). I’m in the second camp.

    Wednesday, September 16, 2009 at 3:01 pm | Permalink
  51. Helen wrote:

    Still, please do watch Death proof on DVD (you know, when you get the two-overnighters-plus three Weeklies deal and you have to make up the numbers) just for Zoe Bell, and watch the Zoe Bell / QT interview in the extras. I think you’d like Zoe.

    Thursday, September 17, 2009 at 2:04 am | Permalink
  52. McDuff wrote:

    (I actually found Death Proof to be his worst film. Rodriguez’s Planet Terror was by far the better part of the Grindhouse set.)

    Yeah, I don’t think anyone missed that, really. I guess the difference is in whether you find it childlike (charming!) or childish (smack that kid). I’m in the second camp.

    Fine, I guess, but then what we have is a valid disagreement over an artistic style and it doesn’t make either of us right, it just means we have different tastes in visual cinema. I prefer films that look like the director actually enjoyed making them, what can I say, I’m a simple type like that. I also listen to Girls Aloud!

    Still, though, you should watch Basterds before you criticise it on the terms of Pulp Fiction. It’s a significantly maturer work (IMO) than the others, and his best film since Jackie Brown by a significant margin (rather than being a Tarantino film “nobody likes”, contra the OP…)

    Thursday, September 17, 2009 at 6:10 am | Permalink
  53. Mercer Finn wrote:

    As always, reading Tiger Beatdown makes me uncomfortable with myself:
    http://dollhousehothouse.blogspot.com/2009/09/gender-and-pulp-fiction.html

    Thursday, September 17, 2009 at 7:13 am | Permalink
  54. Samantha b. wrote:

    McDuff, style is a vice if it’s relied upon in lieu of substance, I tend to think. Style really doesn’t have much to do with art, actually. It necessarily implies depthlessness.To reach the level of art, a movie really needs to have something to significant to say and be aesthetically pioneering in some sense. Maybe you don’t want that from a film, fine. But Tarantino is pretty much the Shepard Fairey of film- his stylishness is made interchangeable with art by people who really don’t want to be challenged but still would like to make self-congratulatory claims to connoisseurship.

    Thursday, September 17, 2009 at 8:37 am | Permalink
  55. Sady wrote:

    “Tarantino is pretty much the Shepard Fairey of film”

    And today is the day that Samatha b. blew my mind.

    Thursday, September 17, 2009 at 9:32 am | Permalink
  56. McDuff wrote:

    McDuff, style is a vice if it’s relied upon in lieu of substance, I tend to think.

    With all due respect, bollocks. To quote Stephen Fry, “style is substance”.

    Style really doesn’t have much to do with art, actually.

    Tell that to Picasso. Or, for that matter, Rembrandt.

    It necessarily implies depthlessness.

    Necessarily? Really? Are you sure you’re not confusing style with stylishness? I think it’s pretty interesting to suggest that someone working in a visual medium who is concerned with the aesthetics of the work is necessarily restricted from considering anything on any other level.

    To reach the level of art, a movie really needs to have something to significant to say and be aesthetically pioneering in some sense.

    Right, we’re into a conversation where you’re choosing to define “art” as “stuff I like” here, which is sort of not what the word actually means. You also get to pick and choose, apparently, what is a “significant” thing to say and what is not, which is a hefty responsibility to bear. Are you cool with me calling you every time I watch a movie to see if its underlying message is arbitrarily significant enough?

    Maybe you don’t want that from a film, fine. But Tarantino is pretty much the Shepard Fairey of film- his stylishness is made interchangeable with art by people who really don’t want to be challenged but still would like to make self-congratulatory claims to connoisseurship.

    Haha! It’s funny because people wear it on t-shirts! And T-shirts are for the proles who don’t really understand things! Because they are stupid!

    Do you suspect that saying “I listen to Girls Aloud” is more likely or less likely to be part of a self-congratulatory claim to connoisseurship? I ask merely for the information.

    Your loft-apartment analysis is exactly the kind of pretentious, faux-brow bollocks that irritates the shit out of me and leads me into long conversations in the pub about how Toxic is one of the best pop tunes of the 20th century even if you don’t personally like how Britney fucking Spears is a bit unclassy. Heaven forfend that art should entertain, or look nice. No, in order to qualify for the arbitrary label bestowed on it by the gatekeepers of art, it has to be pre-vetted by those gatekeepers for messages which align with the pre-approved list of significance, written with a glass of chablis in one hand and a disdainful look down the nose at the poor proles who aren’t part of this week’s inner sanctum. How tediously middle class of you.

    Now, I am not saying Tarantino is composed purely of style and that’s OK. He absolutely is not. It may well be that his style gets in the way of telling his stories to some people, and that’s cool, because not everybody likes every kind of art and not every kind of art speaks to everyone. For example, I think Millais Ophelia is actually well-executed crap (along with most of the rest of the Pre-Raph nonsense), but I’m led to believe that an awful lot of people find it a very enjoyable work of art. That is cool! You might love the work of the Pre-Raphs – and since their entire raison d’etre was to condescend to the proles it would be a perfect fit – and I’m not going to suggest that because my personal emotional and intellectual response to it is to find it flat, boring, dull, tedious and soulless that those who regard it as being none of those things are somehow wrong or on a lesser level of cultural purity to myself. We just like different things. Nor would it ever occur to me to say that it’s not art. It quite obviously is because, as Damien Hirst says, it’s hanging in an art gallery, innit.

    This condescension that you are better than me at appreciating art simply because you are unable to see past the style in which Tarantino tells his stories and I am not, that somehow my personal response to his work is incorrect, is just dull boorishness dressed up as an opinion on taste.

    “My art is more fucking worthy than thine” is just awful, lazy criticism of anything.

    As to whether the messages of Basterds, if one can bring oneself down to the level of watching a film rather than shouting at the people who sully their rear ends on the cinema seats, is worth telling, let me quote a Jewish, female, radical feminist acquaintance:

    I think me being Jewish is a big part of that. I felt like he made this movie just for me, or people like me. People who have grown up having to watch one movie after another being a horror show of dying Jews, of “survivors” who, mostly, just seem so exhausted by their experiences that they haven’t had a chance at a happy life. I’ve lived with that, though it isn’t so close to me that it hurts in such a way that gruesome violence can’t help.

    I abhor violence. I don’t think it solves anything, and the general outcome is worse on all sides, regardless of who wins.

    But I loved this movie, because, if just for this one time, we win.

    I don’t know whether you’d be able to see that kind of thing from all the way up there on your high horse though.

    I’m not a connoisseur and would never aspire to be. I like movies, and that’s the highest rank of critic I ever hope or want to obtain. God forbid I should ever be as pretentiously up my own arse about it that I stop being able to see depth in movies because they look nice and are enjoyable to watch.

    Thursday, September 17, 2009 at 11:04 am | Permalink
  57. Sady wrote:

    @McDuff: Seriously, dude. I get the feeling that if you and I had some drinks together after work or something, we’d get along fine. But your need to post multiple blog-post-length comments any time someone impugns Tarantino is getting a little tiresome. You’re demanding the right to be the center of the conversation, to control it, and you’ve proven that you WILL NOT SHUT UP until you have the final word.

    Which is obnoxious. And I say this even though I appreciate you reading the blog, and you seem like a decent guy.

    Personally, I think that significance is a big part of art, if you’re out to appreciate it as ART and not as just some cultural phenomenon. And Tarantino is irritating to me because he’s trying to be all Postmodern and repel any attempt to find significance in his art – if you’re looking for MEANING, you’re doing it wrong! Let’s just be COOL and NOT TAKE THIS SERIOUSLY, ok? – while simultaneously attempting to ACTUALLY put in significance (the Basterds are “empowerment,” Kill Bill is “empowerment,” Death Proof is “empowerment,” etc.) so that people can respond to it on THAT level, and then shaming people for challenging his attempts at “significance” (seriously, don’t you GET IT? In the Postmodern world, all is Surface! Depth is for losers! Let’s just be COOL and maintain our IRONIC DISTANCE, all right?) and it is this stupid little dance attempting to let people (a) respond to his movies favorably in an “intellectual” way, (b) respond to his movies favorably in a visceral way which DIRECTLY CONTRADICTS the “intellectual” understanding, and (c) not allow people to respond unfavorably on either a visceral level (but don’t you get my INTELLECTUAL points?) or an intellectual level (but don’t you get that it is just a MOVIE? Ha ha, watch me as I play about in my merry sandbox)!

    Oh, yeah, and that whole thing you do where you’re like, “okay, well, you can’t possibly be right, and your opinions can’t possibly be more valid than mine, so best case scenario is nobody’s right” is a time-honored tactic of people who just don’t want anyone else to win the argument and have to have the last word. Which, again: you seem like a nice dude. But that’s obnoxious.

    Thursday, September 17, 2009 at 11:23 am | Permalink
  58. Sady wrote:

    @McDuff: Oh, and two additional notes: First, you can’t demonstrate your superior understanding of Postmodernism In The Work Of Tarantino in your first comment, and compare Tarantino to Picasso, and then accuse people of being “pretentiously up their own arses” when they engage on the level of serious art criticism. You tried to elevate Tarantino above the proles, not us. And the Shepard Fairey joke was pretty objectively true and hilarious.

    Second, I think this Abigail Nussbaum piece is very good and well worth your time:
    http://wrongquestions.blogspot.com/2009/09/why-i-wont-be-watching-inglorious.html

    Thursday, September 17, 2009 at 11:28 am | Permalink
  59. McDuff wrote:

    You’re demanding the right to be the center of the conversation, to control it, and you’ve proven that you WILL NOT SHUT UP until you have the final word.

    Up until now, nobody has actually asked me to shut up. Yours was a long post with some pretty long responses in the comments. And it’s not just Tarantino I’ll defend, it’s just that nobody is talking about Moore any more.

    (incidentally, I hadn’t put Moore and Tarantino in the same camps of cinema at all before, but thanks to this post I am starting to see them in similar lights, particularly in the ways that people respond to both of them. There’s probably a PhD in there for someone with more time on their hands)

    I’m not going to quote and pick because your objections there are pretty complex and I can’t point-by-point them without being all long, so let me at least try to be brief.

    Firstly, I didn’t elevate Tarantino or Picasso above the proles, that’s your reading of where Picasso is, not mine. I just think Picasso was a good visual artist, and you can be any class you want and still appreciate that. I don’t distinguish between high art and low art, I think it’s a pretty rubbish way of looking at things, I prefer good art and bad art. One can draw a venn diagram of influential art that crosses both camps, but the whole “some stuff is genuine art and other stuff merely populist rubbish” depresses the fuck out of me.

    As for Shepard Fairey, well, it may be true (although I think it’s not as true as you might think mainly because you haven’t seen Jackie Brown and Inglourious Basterds, which are both significantly less flashy and sparkly than Pulp Fiction or the Kill Bill movies) but then the reason that is an insult is predicated on that tedious “style isn’t art, especially if lots of people like it” assumption, which I have been through: it’s a very boring assumption to make about art, and makes you into a boring commenter on it. The world truly does not need someone else explaining why we’re not smart enough to like the same art as them, thanks.

    Right, but, on “why tarantino annoys you”: I guess I don’t see the contradiction between a visceral response to art and an intellectual response to art. See also: Guernica. I don’t see why one cannot want to create a gut level reaction to visual imagery, if you are a visual artist, as part of a palette of storytelling techniques. When I talk about Tarantino’s postmodernism (oh, how the word irritates me, with its capacity to mean so much and so little at the same time) I am referring to his films self-awareness, the fact that his movies know they are movies that are being watched by an audience, that even though the characters in the film have no conception of The Dirty Dozen that the audience does, and plays with that fact in order to tell a story (This guy covers it in much more depth). At the same time, you don’t have to know any of that in order to get the shiny lights and the magnificently restrained long shots punctuated by stylised cuts and jumps.

    Now, this is not to say that if you are engaging with Tarantino on an intellectual level and not liking it that you’re doing a bad thing by saying that as opposed to just dropping out to the “ooh, sparkly” level of cinema appreciation. But I don’t know whether I’d expect many film makers to not personally try and cop out of criticisms of their work. “Yes, but…” is hardly a tactic used solely by Tarantino to get people to stop slating his shit. Basically, I won’t go there. But Sam B was saying that Tarantino is all style and no substance, and that’s not even remotely the same argument, nor is it correct.

    As for obnoxiously pointing out that we’re not going to reach even the grounds for an agreement, well, what would you have me do here? Quite obviously we’re talking about subjective interpretations of subject matter and I’m not the kind of person who thinks my subjective opinion about art is right. I’ll defend it and give reasons for it but if Tarantino’s style is too garish and visceral for you then, frankly, the fact that it isn’t for me is not going to change your mind, because you are not me and that is the basic grounds of the disagreement. I do object to the notion that my personal taste in liking Tarantino and Park over Haneke makes me some kind of cultural redneck, worthy of derision because I simply do not know any better. I also object to the notion that one can hold forth on a film without having seen it (although I loved Nussbaum’s revelation that she hadn’t taken the time to see Life is Beautiful, but she had taken the time to read a book confirming her suspicions about why she wouldn’t like it anyway. I have no possible answer for any argument made from that planet, although I can admire its beauty on an aesthetic level).

    If anything, I think it’s good to establish the boundaries on where people can agree to disagree (Tarantino annoys you, he doesn’t annoy me) so we can not be distracted away from the bits that are actually better meat for discussion – should Tarantino even have made a war movie based on Jews getting revenge on Hitler? That’s a big, meaty question, and I think a big part of the answer (sorry to keep returning to this but, y’know) is contained in the movie that he actually made, rather than the movie that you think he probably made but haven’t seen. While I understand the inherent problems with someone as garish as Tarantino can be taking on a subject matter with a kind of deliberate apple-cart disruptive intent, I genuinely think you have to balance those out with the fact that the film he actually made wasn’t a three hour epic about Jews violently killing Nazis and how awesome that is.

    So, I’m balancing out the Sady Doyle points out that my my privilege may be making me blind (normally quite a cool compass) against other sources, also not unknown to point out things about my privilege that I may have missed, saying “no no, here’s my Jewish Female perspective: it’s a good film.” I think it’s valid to not wish to tread heavily on certain aspects of history; it’s also valid to not wish every image of Jewry in WWII movies to be of inescapable victimhood, even if that was actually closer to the reality. On balance, that’s the side I sway towards. I don’t want to get offended on someone else’s behalf, especially if they aren’t offended themselves. It’s just not in me to say that someone’s personal emotional responses to a film they’ve seen are somehow factually incorrect, although I’m happy to say that about a film that they haven’t seen.

    But this is another too-long comment, I am very sorry. Let’s have that drink sometime.

    Thursday, September 17, 2009 at 1:13 pm | Permalink
  60. Ashley wrote:

    McDuff,

    I think I speak for alot of people when I say that I’m no longer reading past the first couple of sentences of your replies anymore. Let it go.

    Thursday, September 17, 2009 at 1:45 pm | Permalink
  61. McDuff wrote:

    *shrug*

    Righty o.

    Thursday, September 17, 2009 at 5:15 pm | Permalink
  62. Sady wrote:

    @McDuff: Ha ha, I love the “my tireless commenting in the name of getting The Last Word isn’t working out, so let’s leave a final comment that will be The Last Word On Not Getting The Last Word” maneuver. Awesome! Classic! Super! Four stars!

    For the record, I am just pretty much posting this comment in the name of not letting you have the last one in the thread. Not to be a dick! But just (a) to remind you that men have a long history of demanding to center their own voices and opinions in conversations like these, and (b) in the hopes that, once you’ve learned that you can’t just badger people into agreeing with you by monopolizing the conversation (seriously: there are probably more words, in your comments put together, than there are in the original post. Which was lengthy. Do you even SEE the problem here, or…?) you’ll be a better conversational partner. Again: thanks for reading the blog! You seem like a cool guy! Comment again sometime! But, you know, in a way that’s a little less derail-y, if you can.

    Thursday, September 17, 2009 at 6:52 pm | Permalink
  63. Isa wrote:

    @McDuff: I like you.

    Thursday, September 17, 2009 at 7:11 pm | Permalink
  64. Kelly wrote:

    sady I think we should invite mcduff over for tom collins and record a vlog ;-)

    Thursday, September 17, 2009 at 7:31 pm | Permalink
  65. Sady wrote:

    @emjaybee: “It would be interesting to see your criticisms of Moore, as a filmmaker, all in one piece. Because like others, I did kind of think your piece was typical “hey liberals are crazy too, let’s all be sensible here in the middle” stuff.”

    See? That’s such a knee-jerk reaction, and has nothing to do with what I actually wrote. And the entire post was about the perils of groupthink and unthinking adherence to a party line. For the record, I DON’T think liberals are incapable of being “crazy” or stupid. No-one is incapable of being crazy or stupid. The same is true of conservatives, moderates, whatever. People get SO SHITTY whenever you say that, and you can’t even say the words “too far” without getting criticized: although, you know, you can go too far, or at least too crazy. “Firefly takes misogyny to a new level of terrifying,”, anyone? I believe the woman argues that the character of Wash is a rapist and that Joss Whedon abuses his wife. Oh, no, wait: I don’t believe, I know. Because she totally does.

    I wasn’t even recommending moderation. What I was saying is that party lines, IN AND OF THEMSELVES, are dangerous if construed as evidence of one’s own moral worth, if used to prop up one’s self esteem and sense of self-righteousness, or if adopted because that’s what other folks are doing rather than after careful individual consideration. It leads to this thing where we are Right and they are Wrong and anything we do in the service of that Rightness and Goodness is okay, whereas Bill O’Reilly is consciously, cynically evil and you know this because… he disagrees with you? How do you know this? How did the woman in the blog post linked above know that Joss Whedon abused his wife? She didn’t. She just said that because she didn’t like that he had a sex worker in his show and didn’t show her life as one of unmitigated horror.

    I’m not EVEN defending Bill O’Reilly here. I’m saying that it is your job to interrogate yourself and each and every message you receive every day to make sure it is correct. After you’ve performed the interrogation, I think you’ll find that feminist messages are correct the vast majority of the time. But orthodoxy, a susceptibility to fine inflammatory rhetoric, and a knee-jerk aversion to criticism can’t take you as far as intelligence and judgment, and they may very well take you the wrong way at times.

    I am a radical, at least in American terms. But I’m not going to do or believe everything that anyone else brands as “radical,” or to give up my right to think for myself and just tote a party line around. I recommend that you don’t do that either. It makes you a better radical, in the long run.

    Thursday, September 17, 2009 at 7:39 pm | Permalink
  66. Isa wrote:

    I am so fucking tired of Michael Moore. Excellent post, as always.

    Friday, September 18, 2009 at 4:12 am | Permalink
  67. Ashley wrote:

    “What I was saying is that party lines, IN AND OF THEMSELVES, are dangerous if construed as evidence of one’s own moral worth, if used to prop up one’s self esteem and sense of self-righteousness, or if adopted because that’s what other folks are doing rather than after careful individual consideration.”

    Just to take this back to the upcoming Moore film in question: the current political climate, in which the word “SOCIALIST!!11!!1″ is being thrown around by conservatives as if it’s synonymous with “EVIL” (also fascism and nazism, which would be hilarious if it weren’t so sad) really needs is a pragmatic engagement with different social theories that disrupts the assumption that ANY model is a transcendent good in and of itself.

    What we need is someone to honestly say that capitalism has a long history of exploitation, corruption, and despotism JUST LIKE SOCIALISM. Yes, you have U.S. based mega-corporations, industrial era sweat shops, the slave trade, etc., but I also don’t think you can seriously engage socialist theory without being honest about, you know, the government mandated starvation of peasants in the Ukraine or the Stalinist party purges. There’s horror on every side, so suggesting that what is a feature of one system is just a bug in the other is loathsomely disingenuous. However, once we’ve established that its the application of social theories to practical situations that matters, and that taking from each in moderation is a tenable middle-ground–like, say, free market principles are a great way to advance the latest computer technology but are a shitty basis for a health care system–then maybe a discussion will be possible.

    Moore’s film isn’t out yet, so I might have to temper the following once I actually see it, but what it seems like he’s doing is merely replacing one set of essentialist principles (socialism is evil, capitalism is good) with another essentialist principles, even if all he’s doing is characterizing capitalism as inherently and unavoidably evil without demanding some kind of Marxist Revolution. If, as Sam Holloway suggested earlier, Moore really is trying to win the hearts and minds of his opposition, than going about it this way is 100% guaranteed to fail.

    Friday, September 18, 2009 at 9:07 am | Permalink
  68. Samantha b. wrote:

    Ashley, I’m thinking you are conflating communism and socialism. Communism has a long tradition of despotism- democratic socialism does not.

    Friday, September 18, 2009 at 10:57 am | Permalink
  69. Ashley wrote:

    @Samantha: You are right, and I suppose I was only because that’s what’s been happening in public discourse. We can’t seem to get to a discussion of how democratic socialism or market socialism or social democracy are different from Stalinism and Maoism simply because any theory of economic and political organization that contains the word “social” in it raises such extremes of vitriol among a sizable portion of the electorate. Furthermore, because democratic socialism is, for better or for worse, an ideological cousin (albeit estranged) of communism, it’s probably always going to live in the shadow of Stalin in the context of public discourse, just like liberal mainline Christians have to live in the shadow of Pat Robertson.

    My point is that essentializing market capitalism as pure, unadulterated evil, especially if one is suggesting that there is clearly some alternative that evades the messiness of history doesn’t advance the discussion much further. At best, it only keeps the discussion going among the liberals who know enough and care enough to parse it out.

    Friday, September 18, 2009 at 11:25 am | Permalink
  70. Kelly wrote:

    I seriously want to be friends in real life with everyone who was part of this discussion. Sady, you should have a Tiger Beatdown mixer.

    Friday, September 18, 2009 at 2:42 pm | Permalink
  71. Gracie wrote:

    @Sady: “…once you’ve learned that you can’t just badger people into agreeing with you by monopolizing the conversation”
    I don’t think McDuff was trying to badger you into agreeing with him. In fact, in the post you’re replying to he stated that your disagreement is mostly subjective and therefore somewhat irreconcilable. And I also don’t understand how he was monopolizing the conversation. Unlike some of my fellow posters above I read through each post and didn’t see any attempts to shut the conversation down, at least not by McDuff.

    “Comment again sometime! But, you know, in a way that’s a little less derail-y, if you can.”
    But your post was about Tarantino as much as it was about Moore.

    “there are probably more words, in your comments put together, than there are in the original post. Which was lengthy. Do you even SEE the problem here, or…”
    I don’t. Is the issue that McDuff was writing a lot? How is this bad? Forgive me, but I love your blog and think that each post is worthy of discussion. It’s disappointing to see that a particularly wordy contribution to that discussion merits a dismissal.

    “And that’s why he scares me. To be honest, it’s what scares me sometimes about myself. Because I basically think that, in order to be a good person, you have to continually ask yourself whether you are a bad one. You always have to consider the possibility that you’re the bad guy – that you can be a bad guy regardless of your cause. You have to constantly look at your enemies, not to see how you are different, but to see how you are the same.”
    I love this. I was actually confronted with the same truth upon hearing about Obama’s factual error concerning Otto Raddatz, and feeling pretty apathetic about it; the particular way I justified it was “it could have happened, and probably does quite a bit.” If such an error had been coming from the right, however, I would have been furious.

    Tuesday, September 22, 2009 at 9:37 am | Permalink
  72. this website is astonishing. it is pretty much the first intelligent, sane, genuinely balanced discussion i have seen, like, ANYWHERE. i am SO RELIEVED that there are people out there who can STILL THINK.

    as for michael moore and the propagandists, i have nothing to add, except that it is great to see both my concern about the political shouting match as well as the apparent uselessness of even attempting to play fair, actually frikkin articulated in a lucid manner.

    pardon me for piping up with what ought to be an unnecessary compliment, but it seems to be so out of vogue these days and that, i think, has been the chief source of my personal distress.

    thank you all so very very much. i am officially addicted to this blog.

    Wednesday, September 30, 2009 at 8:45 pm | Permalink
  73. Kaye wrote:

    Maybe I’m too late but I just had to comment on this. Sady, as usual you wrote a great post with lots of great points that you continued to articulate in greater detail in the comments section. I agreed with a lot of what you said, particularly the part about calling Michael Moore to task for not injecting gender, race and class analyses into his films.

    However, while I see some clear flaws in his films (e.g., I’m not a fan of his hyperbole), in general I think they’re great and needed. So often people are not deep thinkers so to just get them aware of topics, they need to see and hear things with broad strokes. Then they may be primed for deeper analyses. Unfortunately, part of the problem is that you do get angry and then have no place in which to constructively use that anger. Moore’s films need to be paired with resources where you can read more in depth reporting on the topic or places/groups where you can volunteer your time, money, etc.

    For me, the major things I love about Moore’s films are the stories he tells. If you can get past the manipulative parts, he finds people who are riveting and relates the very stories that should be at the heart of our national conversations yet aren’t. From Fahrenheit 911, I will never forget the image of the grieving mother doubling over in front of the White House as she tries to protest the unjust war that killed her son. There were tons of great stories from Sicko. As a psychologist who works in healthcare, I can tell you that he got it right in showing how people suffer under our current system. These are the stories that the mainstream media should be showing but aren’t. Like I said, I could do without all the fluff he presents but I admit I laughed at the “evildoer” line when he approached Guantanamo and I think his broad point about how we do provide good healthcare when it suits us is valid.

    In short, I think his films have huge limitations but no one else is offering the stories he can tell on the topics that matter.

    Sunday, October 4, 2009 at 5:10 pm | Permalink
  74. I like these ideas a lot. Well spoken!

    Tuesday, October 20, 2009 at 11:27 pm | Permalink
  75. Goodmorning
    awesome post – i’m creating video about it and i will post it to youtube !
    if you wana to help or just need a link send me email !

    Wednesday, March 17, 2010 at 1:32 am | Permalink

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