I’ll bet Michael Moore never pictured the day he’d be compared to Borat. But then none of us pictured the day that Donald J Trump would be President of the United States.
How did this topsy-turviness come to be? It’s all Gwen Stefani’s fault, apparently. It was the No Doubt singer that planted that knotweed of a seed in the business mogul’s mind. That’s according to a piece of Trump trivia in Michael Moore’s latest film.
So here we are, the land of the free in the hands of a ‘Tyrant. Liar. Racist.’, so reads the Fahrenheit 11/9 poster.
So absurd is Trump and his time in office to date that even seasoned satirist Sacha Baron Cohen can’t seem to make fun of it all. His Channel 4 mockumentary Who is America? has been met with mixed reviews. It flopped because it pulled its punches, landing a jab here and there on some of Trump’s outer circle but never doing any real damage to the main man.
Into the ring steps Michael Moore with a follow up of sorts to his 2004 exposé of the Bush administration and its involvement in the Iraq war. Disappointingly, though, 11/9 doesn’t so much as go for the jugular as it does extend out a leg in the path of an unstoppable force.
It’s Michael Moore’s style to dress down his targets with jest, asking, “How the fuck did this happen?”. This time that typically Moore-ish wit feels flat and silly.
At times it’s actually uncomfortable. Isn’t making fun of the First Lady’s accent something Trump would do? And hosing sewage water over a Governor’s yard is a bit, well, shit.
It might be time to accept that Trump does a good enough job of embarrassing himself. He might not need Moore, Baron or Baldwin. His exploits are so well and so frequently publicised that some of the content in Fahrenheit 11/9 feels fatigued, i.e. those KFC photos.
There are genuinely affecting moments. Namely from the water crisis in Flint, Michigan and also the surviving students of the Florida school shooting. The story of the Flint water scandal could easily be a documentary in itself. Some 10,000 children are said to have drunk lead ridden water in 2014 after Governor Rick Snyder changed the town’s supply and then covered up the extent of the contamination.
It is atrocities like this and the teary eyed teenagers calling ‘BS’ on gun controls that pack the punch. Moore’s message is that Trump might be dangerous and disgraceful, but the warning signs were there long before, and, dare we say it, he might not be what’s really wrong with America. If you were expecting a movie equivalent to Fire and Fury then I’m afraid this isn’t it.
19th October 2018
THE QUICK SELL
Filmmaker Michael Moore examines the current state of American politics, particularly the Donald J. Trump presidency and gun violence