Michael Moore’s documentary is an acrimonious indictment alleging that President Bush abused his presidential powers and exploited the trust of the American people. It is a social commentary that closes with a quote by George Orwell suggesting that hierarchical societies necessarily thrive on conflict and inequality. One of the aims of the film is to convey in a dramatic way the great disparity between the ruling elite and the poor who sacrifice. Moore juxtaposes the individual and personal self-interests of President Bush and his administrators against the interests of those who carry out, and who are affected by, the administration’s decisions. The contrasts are intentionally sharp. In one scene Bush is speaking at a dinner attended by some very wealthy supporters. He is shown joking, calling his audience the “have’s” and the “have-more’s,” stating that they are his “base.” In another segment, Moore is sardonically trying to recruit children of Congressmen for the military, suggesting that their children should enlist as a demonstration by the nation’s leaders that they support the war not only theory but in practice. One by one he depicts America’s most “eminent in power” as mongers, corrupt, hypocritical, and ignorant (Winthrop 1).
Flint, Michigan is portrayed as the symbolic “backbone of America” where the poor have few options other than joining the military and, therefore, furthering Bush’s interests while eking out a life for themselves. The mother who has lost her son in the Iraq war asks for what cause her son gave his life. Her statements imply that if she felt there had been a noble cause, a fundamental idea or tangible thing, that stood to be lost she might be able to grieve easier. The fact that there is no benefit, no investment, for the people factors heavily in the outrage over the war and the perceived blatancy of Bush’s actions. Moore’s film is a call to the “many’s” and the “have-not’s to take advantage of their constitutional rights to hold leaders accountable for their actions, chiefly by voting Bush out of office.
Another intention of Moore is to reveal Bush’s methods of coercing compliance with his Iraq war plans. Through interviews and the running narrative, the psycho-dynamics of fear are outlined, and a number of methods are introduced. One interviewee maintains that raising and leveling the terror alert levels in the nation has had a numbing effect on the public. Even more insidious, Moore contends, is the intentional confusion created by mixed signals from the Bush administration. In one scene Vice President Cheney is commenting on the real danger of terrorists to the nation, while in the next scene President Bush is telling Americans to get out, fly, and enjoy their country. Then there are the military recruiting campaigns, which create a false sense of propriety over the nation’s fate. After all, they tell you, you can “Be an Army of One.” This idea that the individual is a significant force in the life of the nation is, in Moore’s opinion, a farce under the Bush administration. Throughout the film, Moore drives home his point that the American government is in fact not serving the interests of the people, but that the government is manipulating the people into believing, and therefore supporting, the government’s agenda. It can be argued that the perspective Moore presents the American public is no less complete or biased than the one he claims Bush has presented. Moore’s film is ironic; both he and Bush hope to spur the American people into action by appealing to their individual sense of justice and self-interest.
Just yesterday I saw a quick shot of Sean “Puffy” Combs on CNN. He was wearing a white T-shirt with large print on the front that said, “Vote or Die.” The individual still speaks out, still believes he matters; what other choice does he have? The
in the quest for the American utopia plays a significant role, for without his or her consent, no interests can truly be furthered.