Blogging for Michael Moore

It was very clear as the various preview screenings swept through Australia that Michael Moore’s documentary Fahrenheit 9/11 made for no ordinary film showing. Anecdotal feedback from many of these screenings was suggesting that film goers were engaging with this documentary at a highly political and sophisticated level.

Suddenly the whole rationale for Australia’s involvement in the Iraq invasion was again under scrutiny. Even the screenings themselves, drawing as they did so many people to the one gathering, became improvised protests as the film shot up the box office charts, audiences applauded the film inside the cinema and left discussing its contents with those who entered only 110 minutes earlier as strangers.

As an echo of the massive nationwide protests of February 2003, these screenings reveal the extent of the continuing anti war sentiment in this country, and the film, perhaps more so than any other factor, has ensured that the upcoming federal election will also serve as a poll on the war.

Those who have seen the film recognise its potency but the impact it is having generally is not being reflected in any of the major media outlets as most of these have chosen to discuss or dismiss the film as propaganda in an effort to marginalise it. The box office figures suggest otherwise. If Moore’s earlier feature documentary, Bowling for Columbine, was seen by more people here per capita than any other country, F9/11 is set to register even deeper into the mainstream psyche of Australian politics.

Given this groundswell I decided to set up a Michael Moore blog site in order to tap into and showcase the partisan sentiment the film had reactivated. A blogsite is a web log where you can upload a succession of posts archived in chronological order. It also allows visitors to comment on your postings. Blogsites can be very interactive.

Within a day of establishing the site it was clear that neither I nor Michael Moore were the stars of my new forum. The many postings from visitors took up a range of issues that kept coming back to core aspect of anger against the continuing duplicity of both George Bush and John Howard. So in a way, peoples’ genuine response to the film has sharpened the process of overcoming some of the demoralisation that set in when the invasion proceeded despite huge opposition to Australia’s involvement in it. As Moore himself told an interviewer at the Hollywood premiere of F9/11, from the large amount of correspondance he was receiving from here "there are a lot of angry people in Australia."

One website isn’t going to change the face of Australian politics nor will one protest march, but the phenomenon that seems to be unfolding under the banner of this film is telling us a lot about what people are thinking. On my blogsite the only anti Moore sentiment is coming from right wing nutters who rely on the US gun lobby (an avowed enemy of Moore’s after his Columbine film) for their arguments. So in a strange way, F9/11 has generated a sharper divide than the initial invasion did in the first place. Aside from the toady reviewers screaming propaganda! at the film, this sharpening polarisation has festered unrecorded and unmonitored for the past 18 months. Like some suppressed emotion restrained by neglect, this anger may ultimately prove more volatile than both Howard and the ALP care to recognise.