Almost everyone is at fault for Trump’s election victory in Michael Moore’s sequel-ish documentary Fahrenheit 11/9.
Now, “everyone” might be a stretch, but his camera does have a strong focus on, well, everyone. From non-voters to establishment politics, from complacent Democrats to the media at large, everyone was played like a tiny fiddle for tiny hands. Make no mistake about it, however, as this is not just or even necessarily a movie about blame. Well, blame for his Presidency, I mean. 11/9 is a time capsule for a generation that can’t rest. It’s a sobering call to students and young adults across the country to get ready and get loud, for themselves, their community, and our democracy.
I see 11/9 less as a follow-up to Moore’s most memorable film essay Fahrenheit 9/11, and more a spin-off/re-appraisal of his final moments from Capitalism: A Love Story, which I felt and still kind of feel was/is his magnum opus. In the case of that documentary’s finale, he expressed exhaustion and malaise, wanting for a revolution of our minds and in the streets to happen, clawing its way to the steps of power. We/he thought it was coming with #OccupyWallStreet, but that was quickly snuffed out and made fun of. More than half a decade later, though, it might now be the best time. Or the last possible time?
11/9 suggests and laments the beginning of despotism and possibly outright fascism in our country, by way of cowardice and greed, both of which are described as having led the way to Trump. In one such instance, when then President Barack Obama visited Flint, MI to speak on the water crisis, a whole community came to see a resolution to their ongoing horror. Instead, they got a smirk and a silly gesture in the form of Obama wetting his lips with “clean” water. He didn’t come to chastise Governor Rick Snyder’s policies, declare an emergency, or even get behind the protestors. Instead, his act only affirmed the status quo and did much to detach hope and interest from potential voters, who would then stay home on election night, depressed in a world they think they can’t change. The irony, I say.
Michael Moore throws the criticism all over but does go far in showcasing those that are making a change every day, from the Parkland High School teens to the West Virginia teachers (whose sequence in the film nearly made me cry). 11/9 is a movie that goes from disappointment and told you so-ism to we can still turn this around attitude, with the asterisk of “if we want to”. Moore now has this cadence in his editing and narration of a man who has thrown his arms in the air one too many times. Melancholic gloating? Perhaps. Moore does go the route here, but always takes the state of things seriously, no matter if he saw it coming or not.
I rather disliked his previous flick Michael Moore in TrumpLand, which was mostly his one-man stage performance for a crowd of conservatives in the lead up to Election 2016. In Fahrenheit 11/9, he posits that Bernie Sanders’ supporters were very unfairly shut out when Hillary Clinton was ultimately chosen as the Democratic nominee. Still, in TrumpLand, he offers up an endorsement for Hillary. This might be seen as a contradiction to some, but I see it as more of conflict within. Not wanting to take Trump lightly, Moore and others went with Hillary because, well, she was our candidate and that’s that. In 11/9, it’s this very system that is called out as being broken. It’s this very mentality that’s seen as illogical and counter-intuitive. Not that Hillary was bad, and not that “Bernie would’ve won”, but that people were purposefully forced to be quiet on the subject. That establishment was considered more important than the voters. That is how Trump won. That is how we got here. And that is where we need to get away from.
RATING: 3.5 / 5
Fahrenheit 11/9 is now streaming free for Amazon Prime members. Read about our Gathr screening of this movie last year here.