Live From 5 Minutes Ago

Monday, March 24, 2003

Just for fun, let's parse Michael Moore's acceptance speech from last night.

"Whoa. On behalf of our producers Kathleen Glynn and Michael Donovan from Canada, I'd like to thank the Academy for this. I have invited my fellow documentary nominees on the stage with us, and we would like to — they're here in solidarity with me because we like nonfiction."

Opinion and thank you's. Nothing controversial.

"We like nonfiction and we live in fictitious times."

I'm more than a bit confused by what "fictitious times" are. Perhaps if he were trying to make a statement (which would be quite valid) about how difficult it is for documentaries to get a theatrical release, he'd have a very good point.

"We live in the time where we have fictitious election results that elects a fictitious president."

Now, for good or ill, George W. Bush is not "fictitious." He's a real person. You may believe he's wrong-headed, but you can't deny that the man exists. However, Mike could have made the same point more correctly by saying something along the lines of "We have a president in office, when half a million more people voted for another person to hold the office."

"We live in a time where we have a man sending us to war for fictitious reasons."

Actually, arguably correct--as a number of folks have demonstrated, the administration's case for war has been (at best) self-contradictory and based far more on speculation than on any sort of fact. Now, I think an argument could have been made for going to war (and that argument was, more or less, made by Tony Blair to the House of Commons in the UK), but I think we have to be aware of the long-term implications of the argument that's being made.

"Whether it's the fictition of duct tape or fictition of orange alerts we are against this war, Mr. Bush."

Duct tape actually does exist. So do "orange alerts." Although valid points both--despite the many uses of duct tape, it seems likely to be about as useful in the event of a bioweapon attack as the old-fashioned "duck and cover" technique, and "orange alerts" thus far have not seemed to be based on any concrete intelligence, and no actual attacks have occured or been (visibly) thwarted. I'm also unclear on how "duct tape and orange alerts" are reasons for going to war.

"Shame on you, Mr. Bush, shame on you. And any time you got the Pope and the Dixie Chicks against you, your time is up. Thank you very much."

While the Pope and the Dixie Chicks (or at least Natalie Maines) have come out against the war, they are not among the militant Impeach Bush folks (no, that's just former Attorney General Ramsey Clark). I'm not sure that they think Bush's "time is up."

Mike, as usual, had a valid point at the core of his tirade--that he, along with many others are opposed to this war, and that real questions can be raised about why this war is happening. He just presented it as a flamethrower rather than with the sort of precision aim that could have been effective. Why not just do something like:

"Thank you. I've invited my fellow nominees up here because we all believe in the power of nonfiction, especially in a world where what's going on thousands of miles away tonight weighs on all of our hearts. Those of you who saw my film know where I stand on this. Can we just have a moment of silence for all the people who are suffering tonight--American, Iraqi, or any other nationality? (silence) Thank you. Thank you very much."

Classy and effective. Admittedly, however, not nearly as entertaining as what we got.

Interesting note. In spite of (or is it because of) his temper-tantrum at the Oscars last night, Michael Moore's book is at #4 on Amazon's Top 100 right now, behind only the new Harry Potter book, a book about Trading Spaces, and Michael Connelly's new novel. Admittedly, numbers 6, 33, and 35 are liberal bashers by Robert Patterson, Mona Charen, and Michael Savage, respectively, but still, that's an impressive showing. You can certainly say a lot of bad things about Moore--he has a tendency to overstate his case and abuse platforms when they're given to him--but there's no better person (left or right) at provoking thoughtful responses and laughter at the same time.

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