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Fahrenheit ???
June 19, 2004 2:19 PM   Subscribe

Ray Bradbury is angry. Mr. Bradbury is accusing Michael Moore of lifting the title from his classic science-fiction novel "Fahrenheit 451" without permission and wants the new documentary "Fahrenheit 9/11" to be renamed.

Bradbury says he called Dog Eat Dog Films, Moore's production company, six months ago about this issue, and Moore himself finally returned his phone call last last Saturday. Bradbury, who is a registered political independent, said he would rather avoid litigation and is "hoping to settle this as two gentlemen, if he'll shake hands with me and give me back my book and title."

Does Moore need Bradbury's permission to use "Fahrenheit 9/11" or is Bradbury cleverly pulling “a Michael Moore” to get attention for the new edition of "Fahrenheit 451" coming out in eight weeks and remake of the 1966 movie, that is in pre-production for 2005?
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood (99 comments total)

 
Did George Lucas ask Gene Roddenberry's permission to use Star Wars? It's awfully close to Star Trek, and the material is pretty similar.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 2:22 PM on June 19, 2004


yes.
posted by quonsar at 2:22 PM on June 19, 2004


The same thing happened to me when I tried to publish a novel called The Mime Machine.

By the way, did I ever tell you guys about the time I saw Ray Bradbury devour a torch burger?
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 2:25 PM on June 19, 2004


Ray Bradbury took the title for one of his stories from Walt Whitman's I Sing the Body Electric.

Thank you, drive through.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 2:25 PM on June 19, 2004


And Walt Whitman's I Sing The Body Electric was prominently featured in a scene from the movie Bull Durham, from which I stole my IntarWeb name, so the circle of life is completed.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 2:28 PM on June 19, 2004


And while we're at it, the answer is no. You cannot copyright titles.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 2:28 PM on June 19, 2004


I am under the impression that titles cannot be copyrighted. In other words, you or I could publish a novel called "The Da Vinci Code" or "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" tomorrow, without fear of litigation. Is this not correct?
posted by Faze at 2:29 PM on June 19, 2004


xqyzyphyr nailed it. Just to name one example off the top of my head, take a look how many films are listed in the IMDB under the title Insomnia (at least one is a remake of previous release).

Conclusion: Bradbury is all wet.
posted by psmealey at 2:34 PM on June 19, 2004


I'd like to hear what Gabriel Fahrenheit has to say about all this.
posted by Space Coyote at 2:35 PM on June 19, 2004


Though I think the MPAA can interject if a studio releases a film with a title too similar to another film. I remember there was a lot of difficulty gaining permission for the movie titles "Goldmember" and "The Spy Who Shagged Me".
posted by bobo123 at 2:40 PM on June 19, 2004


Is Bradbury just doing a brilliant Bill O'Reilly/Fox parody?
posted by juiceCake at 2:41 PM on June 19, 2004


bobo, they didn't need permission to use "GoldMember", but it would have been a pain for New Line to take it through the courts, so they made some deals with MGM.

Bradbury could cause problems for the film and its scheduled release if he took Moore to court, but he'd still lose. So the question is, is he gonna be an asshole about it?

Magic 8 ball says ...
posted by Blue Stone at 2:49 PM on June 19, 2004


Is this the same stupid motherfucker who stood up for Bob Packwood? Also, Edgar's here and he wants the House of Usher back. Now.
posted by trondant at 2:51 PM on June 19, 2004


Ho hum. That OtherFilter caught up to this bit of NewsFilter 2+ weeks ago, but they needed a Swedish translator to get the whole story...
I took a look at Ray Bradbury here, Wendell said, self-linkally.
posted by wendell at 3:03 PM on June 19, 2004


Though technically XQUZYPHYR is correct there have been exceptions.

IANAL, but... an author can lay claim to a title if the title is sufficiently attached to his or her work so that in using the title, confusion is being sent to the public about what the title is for.

If I remember correctly, in the 70s or early 80s someone tried to create a [i forget what--probably a movie] called I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream, which is the title of a Harlan Ellison story. Ellison sued and won, the court saying, in effect, the combination of words was sufficiently unique that had Ellison not had a story called that, the creators of this new thing would not have come up with the title on their own. In short, they were attempting to profit by choosing that title.

Perhaps a MeFi lawyer will be more familiar with the case and be able to properly sum it up. I heard it straight from Ellision at least 17 years ago.
posted by dobbs at 3:05 PM on June 19, 2004


what about that song at the end of Fame? "I Sing The Body Electric?"
posted by mcsweetie at 3:10 PM on June 19, 2004


Physics is suing Ray Bradbury for stealing the title of his book from the temperature at which paper burns, and also suing Bon Jovi for naming their album after the temperature at which rock melts.
posted by kirkaracha at 3:12 PM on June 19, 2004


Steve@Linwood: flying like a moth to MM's flame.

MM controversy = MM $$$$$$$$$$$
posted by sic at 3:17 PM on June 19, 2004


As pointed out elsewhere (via) I Sing The Body Electric isn't the only title that Bradbury borrowed, The Women and Something Wicked This Way Comes are other examples of "borrowed" titles.

Personally, when I first heard the title of Moore's movie I thought it was a reference to the Bradbury title, but I didn't think it was at all related to it.
posted by revgeorge at 3:17 PM on June 19, 2004


Copyright law doesn't seem to be Bradbury's point. He's asked for an apology, not damages. In this sense, it sounds like all he wants is to have a little honor done to him, get some recognition from Moore, or whatever. This is totally retarded, since the title itself is already an homage.
posted by scarabic at 3:23 PM on June 19, 2004


This is totally retarded, since the title itself is already an homage.

I suppose Nazi swastikas are just an homage, too, in some ways.
posted by angry modem at 3:37 PM on June 19, 2004


1) It's wordplay, it's clearly fair-use parody.
2) It's not exactly in competition with the work of Bradbury, and no-one's going to get the two confused in a million years.
3) It's a sodding temperature.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 3:39 PM on June 19, 2004


I suppose Nazi swastikas are just an homage, too, in some ways.

(checks watch)

1 hour, 18 minutes.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 3:55 PM on June 19, 2004


Bradbury's looking to heighten his exposure and the pending duckets. Or he wants to help promote the movie by stirring up controversy.

And it is an homage to Bradbury in any case. Much ado about nothing, as usual.

I wonder if Moore paid him to get upset about it?
posted by fenriq at 4:13 PM on June 19, 2004


Somebody want to ask Bradbury where he got the titles for "I Sing The Body Electric" and "Something Wicked This Way Comes", amongst other things he's written?

I love Ray, and his writing has had a huge influence on me, but he's just being an idiot here, and his ass is hanging out in the wind.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:31 PM on June 19, 2004


*bows to crash, needs caffeine*
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:32 PM on June 19, 2004


As mentioned before, you can't copyright titles. That's how you get so many porn flicks that imitate mainstream movie titles. The following is NSFW.
  1. Edward Penishands
  2. Beetlejism
  3. Flintbones
  4. And many more...
posted by substrate at 4:42 PM on June 19, 2004


I suspect Ray will fall off the chair when he'll discover that F911 the docufilm , not to be confused with IRS' Application for Taxpayer Assistance Order (ATAO) F991 or with open-top secondary containment system for UL 142 single-wall aboveground storage tanks, will actually be good and free advertisement for Fahrenheit 451 as the word that Michael took the liberty of taking inspiration from the book title will slowly, but certainly spread.


On previre. substrate : don't forget Shaving Ryan's Privates.
posted by elpapacito at 4:50 PM on June 19, 2004


And when one thinks of all the titles taken from the Lord's Prayer--The Power And The Glory, Thy Kingdom Come, Give Us This Day...

...hey, dibs on Art In Heaven !

I love Ray, and his writing has had a huge influence on me...


*nods*

*smiles Mona Lisa smile*
posted by y2karl at 4:52 PM on June 19, 2004


substrate, there are so many things wrong with "Beetlejism" that I can't even begin to list them.
posted by matteo at 4:54 PM on June 19, 2004


This is not a copyright issue. This is a common law trademark issue. Determining likelihood of confusion is an incredibly fact-specific process. Sounds like Bradbury is just lashing out, we'll see if he bites. I doubt it.
posted by anathema at 4:56 PM on June 19, 2004


I read that you can't copyright titles on Metafilter a little bit ago in regards to this exact issue. Someone have the link? This thread should die.

Needless to say, when Moore was interviewed on Letterman, he said that he took the title of his film from the subject line of a fan's e-mail that was sent after September 11th occured.

I think the fan has more of a claim to it than Bradbury does, IMHO.
posted by banished at 4:58 PM on June 19, 2004


Although you technically can't copywright titles, I was taught in film school that it's understood that you can't make another movie called Star Wars. Lucas has gone to such lengths to create obstacles for anyone who tries that the Writer's Guild will not accept registration of a script titled Star Wars, but they will accept registration of a script with absolutely any other title.

I have to believe that Bradbury and Moore are in on a stunt together. Bradbury is too smart to do this and mean it. And, after many controversies already over Farenheit 451, and after having multiple works of his own turned into movies, well and badly, he surely understands better than most of us, exactly what the rules are, and exactly why he has no case.

Incidentally, Lucas pulled a similar stunt when...Reagan, I think it was, started referring to the space defense system known as SDI, as "Star Wars."

As far as Star Trek goes, other than the fact that it has to do with spaceships in battle, it's got nothing to do with Star Wars at all. The use of the word "star" when you're talking about outer space is fairly obvious, and it's not hard to believe that two people would decide to use it that way separately. The use of a three-digit Farenheit temperature reading ending in 1 to suggest censorship is much more specific. Not only is the title obviously related, it wouldn't even make sense if Bradbury's book had never existed.

All that said: say it ain't so, Ray.
posted by bingo at 5:12 PM on June 19, 2004


Bradbury is an ass.

And this was already posted.
posted by rushmc at 5:13 PM on June 19, 2004


Yeah, this was already posted. I had the same thought this time as I did the last (which is interesting): "Man, I thought Ray Bradbury was dead." Weird.
posted by Quartermass at 5:34 PM on June 19, 2004


And the last time it was posted someone (was it you posting the same thing before bingo?) posted about how Star Wars was the exception to the rule. Someone find the link to that thread, all of this déjà vu is driving me nuts.
posted by banished at 5:50 PM on June 19, 2004


Schindler's Fist.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 5:50 PM on June 19, 2004


Position: Impossible
posted by kirkaracha at 6:08 PM on June 19, 2004


I Sing the Body Electric, Something Wicked This Way Comes, and, ahem, the Lord's Prayer, are all in the public domain.
posted by David Dark at 6:12 PM on June 19, 2004


Just imagine how Ray will react when he hears about "Fuckenheit 451".
posted by wendell at 6:41 PM on June 19, 2004


The Long Ranger
posted by Eekacat at 6:55 PM on June 19, 2004


In 1978, James Crumley wrote, by most accounts, one of the finest hard boiled detective novels of the 20th century-- The Last Good Kiss. Michael Dirda of the Washington Post wrote The Last Good Kiss is the best private-eye novel--if you can call it that--of the past 25 years. And the most heartbreaking.

Its opening sentence is legendary in mystery circles and both fans and writers of the genre can quote it from memory:

When I finally caught up with Abraham Trahearne, he was drinking beer with an alcoholic bulldog named Fireball Roberts in a ramshackle joint just outside of Sonoma, California, drinking the heart right out of a fine spring afternoon.

In 1984, a mere six years later, Ray Bradbury wrote an unmemorable radio play entitled The Last Good Kiss.

No sentence from it is memorized by anyone as far as I know.

*cough*

Farenheit 451 was published in 1953.
posted by y2karl at 7:04 PM on June 19, 2004


What Crumley and Bradbury have in common, in my opinion, is that their reputations are founded upon their early works--to which their later works suffer in comparison. In Bradbury's case, such works were written around a half century ago. He has been a hack ever since.
posted by y2karl at 7:18 PM on June 19, 2004


"As your president, I would demand a science fiction library featuring an ABC of the overlords of the genre. Asimov! Bester! Clarke!"

"What about Ray Bradbury?"

"I'm aware of his work..."
posted by Mayor Curley at 7:39 PM on June 19, 2004


In Bradbury's case, such works were written around a half century ago. He has been a hack ever since.

Oh, please. Anyone who could write The Martian Chronicles is entitled to be a hack forever more.
posted by 327.ca at 8:11 PM on June 19, 2004


I thought so, too, when I was in high school.
posted by y2karl at 9:02 PM on June 19, 2004


Bradbury's sweet, quiet stories of youth in an America (which could also be a Canada, of course) long since lost are some of my favorite writing, ever. The fact that he is better known as a genre writer for things like The Martian Chronicles and Fahrenheit 451 makes me sad.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:17 PM on June 19, 2004


Shaving Ryan's Privates.
posted by quonsar at 9:40 PM on June 19, 2004


Bradbury is too smart to do this and mean it.

Have you read anything he's put out in the last five years? I love Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451 was brilliant, The Illustrated Man and The Golden Apples of the Sun are some of the few books which actually manage to make me happy, and anyone who writes, "If teachers and grammar school editors find my jawbreaker sentences shatter their mushmild teeth, let them eat stale cake dunked in weak tea of their own ungodly manufacture" is a genius as far as I'm concerned — but he's clearly senile these days. All of his recent work is barely-coherent rambling nonsense; the man isn't himself.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 9:50 PM on June 19, 2004


Michael Moore Is Ready for His Close-Up
posted by homunculus at 10:56 PM on June 19, 2004


blablablah
posted by mr.marx at 11:01 PM on June 19, 2004


I bow before Ray Bradbury as an artist - many of his stories have stuck with me from childhood (my father exposed me to some of Bradbury's more disturbing stories [The Veldt stands out] early in my life, for which I am eternally grateful) and whenever I happen upon a novel or short of his that I haven't read before, I am filled with glee at the prospect of reading something that I am almost guaranteed to be entranced and thrilled by.

That said, I think he's all wet on this one. Nothing against Mr. Bradbury, as we all get righteously indignant under certain circumstances, but I just can't agree with him on this. I don't think Michael Moore is trying to take advantage of him or capitalize on the title of his book - at this point, Fahrenheit 451 is not only an iconic book, but an iconic title. It's one of those titles like War and Peace.

And that said, I can't believe nobody mentioned "How Stella Got Her Tube Packed".

AND, at the risk of dampening the fuse of my already lame joke, I would like to point out that as far as I'm aware, none of us know Mr. Bradbury personally, and that it might be best to refrain from statements saying that "he's senile" or that "the man isn't himself". When I'm his age, I fully intend on being a cranky old bastard, and if anyone fliply writes off my crankiness as a symptom of senility, well, I'll have a cane with a heavy brass handle on it ready for the swingin'.
posted by GriffX at 11:03 PM on June 19, 2004


Bradbury's sweet, quiet stories of youth in an America (which could also be a Canada, of course) long since lost are some of my favorite writing, ever.

Kingsley Amis in New Maps Of Hell  quotes a passage of such as an example of Bradbury at his most lyrical and yet annoying--one about buying new tennis shoes and running out into the screendoor summer or some such. I liked the passage he quoted at the time I read it, which I suspect may have been before you were born. I really don't know what I would think now. Some books are best read when you are young. That is not said to disparage to diminish them--it's just true.

Amis was ambivalent about Bradbury the stylist but thought very highly of Farenheit 451 as one of his themes in New Maps was the dystopian strain in science fiction. Of Farenheit, he wrote, Bradbury's is the most skillfully drawn of all science fiction's conformist hells.

Bradbury had a certain turn of phrase at times but he could be annoyingly fey and precious all too easily. I liked the Martian Chronicles in some parts--others seemed hamhanded and trite even when first I read it and I was very young when I read it.

Now here's an ironic twist-- in Science fiction writer Bradbury wrong to scorn Internet, a Elizabeth Sherwin writes of Farenheit 451 in 1997, It was filmed in the 1960s by Francois Truffaut, and Bradbury is working on a script for a remake, which will be directed by and star Mel Gibson.

Oh, I found the passage Amis quotes in part--it's from Dandelion Wine:

Well, he felt sorry for boys who lived in California where they wore tennis shoes all year and never knew what it was to get winter off your feet, peel off the iron leather shoes all full of snow and rain and run barefoot for a day and then lace on the first new tennis shoes of the season, which was better than barefoot. The magic was always in the new pair of shoes. The magic night might die by the first of September, but now in late June there was still plenty of magic, and shoes like these could jump you over trees and rivers and houses. And if you wanted, they could jump you over fences and sidewalks and dogs.

and some more page from an Italian website which perhaps Matteo could guide us through:

Somehow the people who made tennis shoes knew what boys needed and wanted. They put marshmellows and coiled springs in the soles and they wove the rest out of grasses bleached and fired in the wilderness. Somewhere deep in the soft loam of the shoes the thin, hard sinews of the buck deer were hidden. The people that made the shoes must have watched a lot of winds blow the trees and a lot of rivers going down to the lakes. Whatever it was, it was in the shoes, and it was summer.

In retrospect, I understand Amis's ambivalence. A little of that could go a long way but then again I like Jonathan Richman and the same could be said for him, I suppose.
posted by y2karl at 11:08 PM on June 19, 2004


With all the important stuff that is going on and is dealt with in this movie, I can't belive this is news. Moore is no god in my eyes, either, but let's get real here. Sorry if I am echoing anyone in this thread.
posted by fillsthepews at 11:20 PM on June 19, 2004


Perhaps we should gather up every existing copy of Moore's film and burn them?
posted by interrobang at 11:22 PM on June 19, 2004


...and leave it to Steve_In_Highschool to post this kind of newsfilter bilge. You suck, Steve. Check it out: you can see this here! Most Viewed! Most Viewed! Most Viewed!

I know that statistics don't mean anything to you, but Most Viewed!
posted by interrobang at 11:31 PM on June 19, 2004


Gorilla's Leap May Lead to Zoo Redesigns?

DAMN YOU LIBERAL MEDIA!!!
posted by GriffX at 11:34 PM on June 19, 2004


but then again I like Jonathan Richman and the same could be said for him

Indeed it could, and has. But I like him too, for many of the same reasons.

I long since stopped listening to those who would tell me what 'good' writing or music or film or what-have-you may be. So, you know, Kingley Amis can take a long walk.

Some books are best read when you are young.

This may be true, but I read my first Bradbury in perhaps 1973, and revisited some of my favorites just in this past year and found their lustre undiminished. In fact, as middle age approaches, the kind of nostalgia for a time that never was is stronger than ever, and there are greater pleasures to be found in some of those stories than the ones a younger me was able to fathom.

Each to their own, perhaps. I will repeat that it is lamentable that Bradbury has been pigeonholed as a genre writer, but then, that's how I first found him, so fair enough.

(interrobang - shut the hell up, or take it to Metalk, you ranting fuckwit.)
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:11 AM on June 20, 2004


Still.
posted by interrobang at 12:18 AM on June 20, 2004


...and I wasn't aware that I was considered a ranter.
posted by interrobang at 12:22 AM on June 20, 2004


I have always loved Bradbury's work, and I've read a lot of it. It sounds funny out loud, but it resonates in the head. That makes it nice reading.

His work is also consistently against hurting people or violating others. Even in his horror stories from the forties, this was so. That's why his work translated so well into E.C. Comics: there's always a comeuppance for someone who does something bad. He's kind of like Roald Dahl in that way, except that occasionally a character in a Roald Dahl story will get away with it.

His language is beautiful and unique, and his stories are usually about humans destroying things. That's fair and true.

Two days or so after September eleventh, I opened the New York Times and was horrified to see that he'd said something like: "We should find these people. We should find them and kill them."

That didn't sound like the Ray Bradbury that I knew. It sounded like Ann Coulter. The Ray Bradbury I'd read cherished life and did not use retribution or vengeance as a weapon.

Reading this article is just an extention of that. Bradbury comes out with the tone-deaf proclamation that a movie's title should be stopped because it invokes one of his books about censorship. The Bush administration *is* about the suppression of information, like it or not.

I didn't object to this post because of its poster. I objected to it because the information is part of today's common knowledge - the story is on Fox and Drudge - and Steve is only posting it as a censorship talking point. Which is exactly why the article is getting so much press, only the press is using it in the opposite way that it should: Bradbury may have gone nuts or not, but the issue is that the media is using him to "prove" that this movie is wrong.

Also, this is a shitty and flimsy post: look at the links. They're a link to a news article readily viewable by anyone at all, a link to a production company, a link to an IMDB listing, and so on. Steve just wrote a paragraph about the original article and dressed it up as a metafilter post in the laziest way possible.

Is that ranty enough for you, Stavros?
posted by interrobang at 12:40 AM on June 20, 2004


If you have trouble with the post or poster, take it to Metatalk. How hard is that to figure out?

Is that ranty enough for you, Stavros?

I'd say you were doing fine up to the 'Also, this is a shitty and flimsy post...'
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 1:36 AM on June 20, 2004




Most viewed!
posted by delmoi at 3:39 AM on June 20, 2004


Anathema gets an A for the day. Why must people talk endlessly about legal concepts they don't understand? Copyright and Trademark are different. Save yourself some time, read Anathema's reply and move on.
posted by Outlawyr at 4:56 AM on June 20, 2004


In fact, as middle age approaches, the kind of nostalgia for a time that never was is stronger than ever, and there are greater pleasures to be found in some of those stories than the ones a younger me was able to fathom.

I understand what you are saying here and I do re-read things I loved when I was young. I grew up in the sort of small town or which Bradbury waxed rhapsodic. I am nostalgic about the way things were or never were when I was young but perhaps more ambivalent about it than you. The past seems idyllic in parts, not in others. But as Richman wrote, I still love the Old World.

Funny, I never thought of Bradbury as a genre writer--certainly never as a science fiction writer--I thought of him as a writer from Southern California. But even that is pigeonholing him, I suppose.

Steve is only posting it as a censorship talking point.

My impression is that he really has a major hair up hiss about Michael Moore and that this somehow proves Michael Moore is a hypocrite to him for some reason.

It's a non-story troll from a guy who wrote You are setting the tone, you bringing up important issues, and more importantly you are changing minds! (so these people think) a few days ago. If Howard Dean had won the Democratic nomination, he'd be posting about him still. La Rochefoucauld wrote It is easier to be wise for others than yourself. An argument could be made that a meta-communicational point is being made here by Steve in a bull in a china shop way but the simple truth is he has a major hair up his about Michael Moore.
posted by y2karl at 6:43 AM on June 20, 2004


delmoi makes an excellent point.
posted by trondant at 7:50 AM on June 20, 2004


Michael Moore Is Ready For His Close Up
posted by y2karl at 8:40 AM on June 20, 2004


Perhaps we should gather up every existing copy of Moore's film and burn them?

Delicious!

I will repeat that it is lamentable that Bradbury has been pigeonholed as a genre writer

I couldn't disagree more with your attitude. Genre implies certain things but "inferior" is not one of them. Me, I tend to pigeonhole about 3/4 of his writing as "boring mainstream wankwork."
posted by rushmc at 10:00 AM on June 20, 2004


"Paging Mr. Toynbee, please come to the Archives, Mr. Toynbee"
posted by clavdivs at 10:22 AM on June 20, 2004


delmoi wins. Damn good show!
posted by five fresh fish at 10:38 AM on June 20, 2004


Just to add a word to y2Karl's "fey" while we're Brad-bashing here: twee.

But, then, Jonathan Richman is twee in a ironic
way, so that's OK, right?
posted by kozad at 12:09 PM on June 20, 2004


H'mm, it seems to me that at several points on Back In Your Life, he was flat out unadulterated twee, no nuance needed.

But he has his moments on disc and he's ten pounds of charisma in a five pound bag in person--pound for pound, one of the most entertaining human beings on the planet.
posted by y2karl at 12:25 PM on June 20, 2004


Roger Ebert: '9/11': Just the facts?
posted by homunculus at 12:56 PM on June 20, 2004


"Paging Mr. Toynbee, please come to the Archives, Mr. Toynbee"

Another 30 pages well padded with illustrations short story moment--par for the course for Bradbury's published works for some decades.
posted by y2karl at 3:06 PM on June 20, 2004


I like Roger Ebert, homunculus:
The pitfall for Moore is not subjectivity, but accuracy. We expect him to hold an opinion and argue it, but we also require his facts to be correct. I was an admirer of his previous doc, the Oscar-winning "Bowling for Columbine," until I discovered that some of his "facts" were wrong, false or fudged.

In some cases, he was guilty of making a good story better, but in other cases (such as his ambush of Charlton Heston) he was unfair, and in still others (such as the wording on the plaque under the bomber at the Air Force Academy) he was just plain wrong, as anyone can see by going to look at the plaque.
This is exactly the same thing that turned me against Moore, and I have to applaud Ebert for championing truth over politics.
Because I agree with Moore's politics, his inaccuracies pained me, and I wrote about them in my Answer Man column. Moore wrote me that he didn't expect such attacks "from you, of all people." But I cannot ignore flaws simply because I agree with the filmmaker. In hurting his cause, he wounds mine.
This is what Moore doesn't understand. He believes that distorted facts are a justifiable means to an end, and doesn't understand why anyone who agrees with his politics would disagree with his tactics, a personality trait indicative of a moral invertebrate. Credibility is important, inaccuracy is death. The film won't have the desired effect (assuming Moore is interested in more than just cashing in) because Moore is about level with Jason Blair in the credibility department. Deliberately distorting facts is a very transparent, very insulting thing to do to an audience. Journalists will hopefully figure this out soon, as well, as their credibility is also on the decline.
posted by David Dark at 3:51 PM on June 20, 2004


This is exactly the same thing that turned me against Moore, and I have to applaud Ebert for championing truth over politics.

Me too. I thought Columbine was bad and sneaky, and I initially dredded that he was the one making a film about what I think is an important subject. But it sounds like he may have his facts right this time. I'll try to judge this one on its own merits, assuming I bother to go see it at all (I tend to get sick of the hype quickly and rarely see films in theaters.)
posted by homunculus at 4:13 PM on June 20, 2004


Anathema gets an A for the day.

Too bad MeFi doesn't pay the law school loans.
posted by anathema at 4:20 PM on June 20, 2004


I couldn't disagree more with your attitude.

You're allowed, and in recent times, the feeling is most assuredly mutual. I can barely remember when I thought the things you had to say were insightful. But perhaps that's just me.

Also : fuck Chalton Heston.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:23 PM on June 20, 2004


Credibility is important, inaccuracy is death.

Then by your own standard, Bush's corpse must reek pretty badly by now.

the feeling is most assuredly mutual. I can barely remember when I thought the things you had to say were insightful.

Nothing like someone who responds to a differing opinion about literature with a personal attack. Sigh.
posted by rushmc at 5:06 PM on June 20, 2004


Credibility is important, inaccuracy is death.

Indeed.

Vis a vis your current administration and around that tireless merry-go-round we go. Constancy is not a strong point in your application of this demand for accuracy and credibility.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:12 PM on June 20, 2004


Oh, come, stravos. Fuck Heston indeed, but surely you must admit that Moore's performance in that particular bit of the film was absurd. Dancing circles around a man with senile dementia is hardly quality journalism.

What surprises me is the lack of moderate voices in these discussions. Surely I'm not the only person who can watch a Moore film and see both the valid thesis and criticisms, and the looney mugging for the camera bullshit. Only a fool -- and perhaps that's the problem encountered here -- would insist that he's entirely right or entirely wrong.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:16 PM on June 20, 2004


Journalists will hopefully figure this out soon, as well, as their credibility is also on the decline.

They have light years to go before they come within a parsec of the current administration on loss of credibility: No weapons of destruction. No Iraq-Al Qaeda connection. The most emerging scandals since the Reagan administration. Abandonment of the Geneva Conventions. Torture of civilian prisoners in military custody at a variety of locations. Secret tribunals. Not planning an occupation. Oh, the list is endless.
posted by y2karl at 5:57 PM on June 20, 2004


Credibility is important

from a Bush supporter, this sentence sounds hilarious
posted by matteo at 6:26 PM on June 20, 2004


Credibility is important, inaccuracy is death.

Then by your own standard, Bush's corpse must reek pretty badly by now.


Ah, yes, I must apologize, I forgot for a moment where I was posting comments. Credibility is important, inaccuracy is death, in documentary and journalism, and to a certain extent, film and print in general. I thought this thread was about Michael Moore and Ray Bradbury, not politics. But let's not kid ourselves. If you try to apply the same standard to politics, sadly, it doesn't translate. To any politician, anywhere on the planet.

However, I'd definitely be willing to apply the standard equally to both Bush and Kerry across the board, and interpret the results without prejudice if anyone so desired.

On preview, to a European, I'm sure it does.
posted by David Dark at 6:32 PM on June 20, 2004


"Credibility is important, inaccuracy is death, in documentary and journalism, and to a certain extent, film and print in general. I thought this thread was about Michael Moore and Ray Bradbury, not politics. But let's not kid ourselves. If you try to apply the same standard to politics, sadly, it doesn't translate..."

Y'know, unless you're going to "restore integrity to the White House", or some mush-mouthed bullshit like that.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 7:21 PM on June 20, 2004


Fuck Heston indeed, but surely you must admit that Moore's performance in that particular bit of the film was absurd.

Nope. Don't have to admit that at all. Reeks of sanctimony, in my humble.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:30 PM on June 20, 2004


Oh, come. Heston is obviously mentally incapacitated -- retarded, even, at this point. Baiting an ancient old man who has a worldview dating back to pre-history is not sporting, not enlightening, and not journalism.

There were some really good bits in Columbine, but that wasn't one of them.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:34 PM on June 20, 2004


Perhaps we can agree to disagree, then.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:54 PM on June 20, 2004


Oh, come. Heston is obviously mentally incapacitated -- retarded, even, at this point. Baiting an ancient old man who has a worldview dating back to pre-history is not sporting, not enlightening, and not journalism.

There were some really good bits in Columbine, but that wasn't one of them.


If Heston was so mentaly incapacitated, then the NRA needed to find a new frontman. It's not Moore's fault that Heston has the mental faculties to read prepared speeches promoting gun use, but lacks the acuteness to back up his positions when challenged.

Heston's Alzheimer's was not know at the time the interfview was conducted. He could have easily said, "No." He chose not to. You can't blame Moore for Heston's poor decisions.
posted by hipnerd at 11:29 PM on June 20, 2004


It was my understanding, from interviews with Moore, that during editing he realized what he had done to Heston and felt it worth leaving in as it demonstrated Moore's own negative side.
posted by the biscuit man at 11:41 PM on June 20, 2004


I liked "Bowling for Columbine", but harassing the idiot-manchild at the end was really schmaltzy.
posted by interrobang at 12:04 AM on June 21, 2004


I misinterpreted the quote by Moore. The paragraph it was from contained his response to two different questions. I attributed the end of the first answer to the end of the second. You can find it about midway down the page by searching for Heston. Sorry for the misinformation.
posted by the biscuit man at 12:54 AM on June 21, 2004


I too thought Columbine made some very good points on the topic (as has been frequently noted) of the culture of fear promulgated by the US media. The problem I had with the Heston interview wasn't just that it was unpleasantly obvious that Moore was interviewing someone without critical faculties but that the placing of the segment brought the film back from being about this argument to the issue of gun control. Moore looked like he felt he had to use Heston footage just because he had it and in grandstanding with it, he broke the thread of his own film.
posted by biffa at 1:36 AM on June 21, 2004


I am very critical of the critics of Bowling for Columbine.

Why do they believe an obviously hidden biased source on the internet over video evidence contrary?

the bank scene was not staged
http://www.michaelmoore.com/words/wackoattacko/movie.php?mov=bank-full

The bank backpedaled after the movie was released on its procedure and lied to anyone that asked about it. In the unedited version of moore in the bank he asks clear as day, unedited, "are guns are kept here in the bank?" and the employee says yes. After the movie is released, the bank changes the policy to avoid looking like dumb rednecks. Investigative sources just take the banks word for it when asked after the fact. In the unedited version it is clear as day, if you are not able to visit the bank in person, you would have to go to a gun shop to pick up the gun. They are not able to just send it through the mail. This becomes the procedure for everyone after the movie is released.

Hestons speech WAS making fun of Denvers mayor. Read the transcript. It was painfully obvious that the speech was edited since the background and his attire changed. Watch the movie for yourself. It doesn't change the message in the least. I believe any assertion that the NRA "HAD" to hold a meeting of be in breach of law complete and utter bullshit. Does anyone actually believe the NRA would disintegrate if they had moved the meeting somewhere else? Or the law would have arrested them all for "non-meeting holding"? They were rubbing it into the faces of all those poor families.

Lockheed Martin does make nuclear missiles. Sure, they might not be attaching the warhead inside the plant, but saying all they make is satellite boosters is completely fabricated too. Lockheed can lie about it, much like the government did not confirm the existence of Area 51 for 40 years. What exactly are those "other things we can't talk about"? What exactly is "playing a role in the development of peacekeeper mx missiles"? Do you really believe they would put a sign on the door that proudly proclaims, "we build the boosters that nuclear warheads reside on here"

http://www.michaelmoore.com/words/wackoattacko/movie.php?mov=lockheed-01

The other things that Moore is wrong about, like the plaque, is just so nit picky. Is the message lost because the plaque doesn't read what moore says it does? Or 3 seconds of paused highlight that has nothing to do with what was being talked about change the other 2 hours of valid points?

Even Ebert is fooled into the spin of some of these invalid criticisms.

He just accepts the webpage as fact without wondering who the source is.

The webpage that started this all is made by "a filmmaker" doing a serious documentary on the 2nd admendment. Not so, the "filmmaker" is a gun industry laywer, David T Hardy. But he lets us know that right? Right?
posted by andryeevna at 9:10 AM on June 21, 2004


If you try to apply the same standard to politics, sadly, it doesn't translate.

Anyone who feels credibility isn't an issue with politicians gets no respect whatsoever from me, sorry. It's that attitude that has landed us in the mess we're in today.
posted by rushmc at 9:22 AM on June 21, 2004


Er, what's your point, then? Much of the movie was very insightful, and his thesis of the "culture of fear" is well worth considering. And parts of the movie were just stupid, like the "open doors in Toronto" bullshit and the Heston-hassling.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:32 AM on June 21, 2004


A controversial war. An embattled president. A looming election. 'Fahrenheit 9/11' comes at a critical time, and that's no accident.
posted by y2karl at 5:47 PM on June 21, 2004


Just read the NY Times article on Moore's fact-checking on this film.

It sounds like the actual facts are going to be pretty much iron-clad. The spin, on the other hand, will have a lot of people frothing in indignation.

The greatest danger with Moore's films is a complete rejection or acceptance of the entire work. Unlike most entertainment, Moore's stuff requires the viewer to actually actively engage the brain.

It would be eversonice if the MeFi population were to keep their brains engaged, carefully separating the facts from Moore's opinions, and dealt with each appropriately.

I likely expect far too much.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:38 PM on June 21, 2004


The greatest danger with Moore's films is a complete rejection or acceptance of the entire work.

See this thread.
posted by homunculus at 7:58 PM on June 21, 2004


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