“Was it all just a dream?” — this is the question many people have been asking themselves since the hectic events of Nov. 9, 2016, when Donald Trump was elected president of the United States. It is also the question with which Michael Moore chooses to open his new film, “Fahrenheit 11/9.” The documentary focuses on how we got ourselves to the Trump era, and how we can get ourselves out again. But be warned, it may not be for the faint of heart.
Moore’s film begins by recounting the events of the election and zooming in on the distraught faces of Hillary Clinton supporters as it becomes clear she will not be taking up residence at the Oval Office. For the first 10 to 20 minutes, it seems as if this is going to be a straightforward Trump-bashing movie. Moore then starts to make some bolder moves, taking the audience through the history of the Flint Water Crisis, an event that highlights the corruption of our political system in clear terms. He even takes a shot at former president Barack Obama for his inept handling of the situation. In light of our current political atmosphere, Obama has become a nostalgia-filled deity to Trump-loathing liberals. When Moore takes him down a peg, it is clear this movie will be taking no prisoners
It’s a sort of bait-and-switch that Moore pulls here, promoting the film as 126 minutes of gleeful Trump bashing, luring progressives into the theaters and then presenting a sharp criticism of the Democratic Party to date. Make no mistake, there is equal criticism of Trump here, perhaps the most biting when Moore plays a video of Adolf Hitler overlaid with audio of Trump’s speech. But the message Moore wants the audience to take away is obvious: this is everyone’s fault.
The typical narrative of Trump’s presidency is that Trump is a bumbling narcissist and somehow wound up president through racism and misinformation, while liberals sat without acting. Moore gives everyone a lot more credit than that. He believes Trump knows exactly what he’s doing and why, which makes sense given that the country’s political misstep was always underestimating Trump. Moore also points blame very directly at the Democratic Party, whom he claims took advantage of our voting system to elect Clinton, even in counties that voted for Bernie Sanders. By the end of the film, Moore creates a very bleak picture of our government: one that serves itself rather than the people.
This movie is at times disorganized, angry and somewhat biased. It is fueled by the same passion and fury that many political naysayers feel about our current predicament. Despite its few shortcomings, it starts a conversation for people to have. The time for pointing fingers and shutting ourselves off from politics is over.
“Fahrenheit 11/9” asserts that the time for action has already passed, so we better get moving before it’s too late.
Email Sophie Lee at [email protected]