Fiction, Non-Fiction, Propaganda, or Re-enactment
April 18, 2003 11:04 AM   Subscribe

Revoke the Oscar. Should "Bowling For Columbine" be considered non-fiction if it manipulated scenes and knowingly left out key information? Would a new category be better, like say adjusted documentary or propaganda? Or is it impossible to make a documentary without some point of view?
posted by destro (53 comments total)
It is impossible to make a documentary without some point of view.
posted by weston at 11:09 AM on April 18, 2003

America WAS founded on violence and fear. Come on, people. Learn your history.

Also, if they were going to start revoking Oscars, how about start with the acting ones? I can think of tons of actors who've used the words "Oscar Winner ___ ___" in previews for far too many horrible movies.
*cough* Cuba Gooding Jr. *cough*
posted by graventy at 11:09 AM on April 18, 2003

I've seen criticism of his past films for doing the same thing, and I have to wonder why he keeps toying with the truth. Does he not think people will figure it out when he plays with timelines and reshapes snippets of his films?

Granted, any time someone points a camera lens at something, they are imparting a slight bit of opinion, because there's no way everything can fit into a single shot. You're getting a view of the world from a pinhole camera, chosen by the creator/director, specifically to tell a story. I understand that and don't think Moore's done anything wrong in that regard, but splicing in Heston's comments from different rallies, and making it seem he showed up right after an event smells like pure BS to make a better plot to his movie, not true documentary filmmaking.

Should his oscar be taken away? Naw, I doubt it. Calls for that seem to be based mostly on his distasteful display at the oscars, and they're going for the gray areas of his film as an excuse to get back at him for that night.
posted by mathowie at 11:13 AM on April 18, 2003

Every documentary has a point of view - I think that is inevitable. Obviously some of them are much more skewed than others.

The thing that makes BFC fiction as opposed to a documentary is that the many of the key events filmed were staged. Not re-created, which is a common thing, but staged. Not only didn't they happen that way, but they never would have happened that way.

If you film things that not only didn't happen, but wouldn't happen so you can make a point and you are going to present them as reality - then you don't deserve a oscar in a non-fiction category.
posted by soulhuntre at 11:16 AM on April 18, 2003

I think that it is somewhat pedantic to be bringing this up after he has won the Oscar. Where was the out cry regarding the accuracy when his film was nominated? While I imagine the bias that was present in the film was well documented before the Oscar was won, it was his inflammatory speech that is the catalyst for this action.

I think that the 'realness' of this effort is on about as stable of ground as some of the points in his film.
posted by Odi et Amo at 11:19 AM on April 18, 2003

"Does he not think people will figure it out when he plays with timelines and reshapes snippets of his films?"

So far, he has no reason to worry about it. He has manipulated and stages scenes as far as I can tell in every film and become wealthy and powerful as a result by the left who consider him a source of "the truth".

As long as he continues to be a professional propogandist I don't think the truth will be an issue... his fans think he is telling the truth and any evidence to the contrary is a plot to discredit him.
posted by soulhuntre at 11:20 AM on April 18, 2003

This is Neocon, Hawkish bullsh*t.

It's worth checking out the cartoonists who created the top graphic for an idea of exactly the angle this is coming from.

I notice the creators of the website omit to disclose who they are, or what they're about, which is fair enough, but it seems obvious they're just people who Michael Moore pissed off with his documentary (whatever it's failings - and I don't deny that there are some) and probably would just love Rush Limbaugh to make a movie, get an Oscar and, probably get hard, at just the thought of it.
posted by Blue Stone at 11:25 AM on April 18, 2003

Granted I haven't seen his other films, but BFC didn't seem like a documentary to me. Moore made it clear in his after-oscars press conference that his sole drive as a filmmaker is to make movies which are entertaining, something people would enjoy going to on a friday night.

I could be wrong, but I would guess that most documentary makers actually have the goal of informing their audience. Moore is as guilty of twisting facts as the subjects of his work.

That being said, his voice of opposition has been accepted by John Q. Public, and his ideas will no doubt have a positive impact. Who knows, maybe he will have a hand in changing the outcome of the next election.

On preview: I agree with everyone's comments
posted by FissionChips at 11:29 AM on April 18, 2003

"I don't know what category to put my films in. They're like a film version of the op-ed page, and not a traditional documentary. They are cinematic essays presenting my point of view. I may be right or wrong, but if I state something as a fact, I need the viewers to trust that those facts are correct." Scroll to bottom of column for this quote

Op-ed, eh? So why are we discussing this here in the blue?

No, this isn't hearsay.
posted by WolfDaddy at 11:31 AM on April 18, 2003

Why complain about a fictitious documentary when we live in fictitious times, with a fictitious President leading us to a fictitious war?

These right-wing lunatics really make me sick, so maybe I'm a little biased, but I can picture the creator of that site doing it while he's on a short hiatus from writing death threats. They complain about free speech, but only their free speech. They want freedom, but not the freedom to have an abortion. They want right-wing private clubs to be allowed to keep blacks and women out, but a liberal club like the Academy can't give Michael Moore an award for the most well-received documentary in years (perhaps all time).

When his documentary about Bush wins, they'll probably call for him to be drawn and quartered.
posted by son_of_minya at 11:33 AM on April 18, 2003

no! god no! not ANOTHER michael moore thread!

for the record, i fall on the same side of the political fence as moore -- but i also think he's a blowhard straight from the rush limbaugh school and paints all of us in a bad light.

whenever a thread on him comes up here, whatever good points could be made get lost in the moore-bashing, and as a result he's kind of like the political scott stapp in these parts. or something.
posted by pxe2000 at 11:36 AM on April 18, 2003

Roger Ebert has an interesting discussion of some Moore-related issues, including the one under discussion here, in his most recent Movie Answer Man. For the record, a producer with the film and Moore both state that the gun-from-the-bank scene was neither staged nor exaggerated for effect. The plaque-on-the-bomber bit is an example twisting the truth to serve your ends. But most accounts I've read haven't focused so heavily on that sort of thing. The gun story has, instead, been Exhibit A.

So it turns out it Moore's critics may be as guilty of twisting the truth and putting out false information as the guy they criticize. What's really insane here is that I've seen some people (both conservative and liberal) post the Opinion Journal article and the like in a "Here's the real facts" manner, in a way that suggests they're righteously trying to get people to realize that you can't believe everything you hear in this age of media hyper-manipulation. Then they blindly trust that all the Opinion Journal info is correct. Good gosh, y'all. Try thinking for yourselves. I imagine the truth about Moore is somewhere in between the claims of critics and Moore and Co.
posted by raysmj at 11:39 AM on April 18, 2003

Holy hell, I wouldn't have thought to click on the cartoonist's signature if Blue Stone hadn't mentioned it -- check this crap out yourself. Anyway, all this Moore-bashing is just more red meat tossed by one NeoCon dunderhead to another in an attempt to keep their impotent passions well-stoked. If they really cared, they'd be protesting that "Shakespeare In Love" beat out "Saving Private Ryan."
posted by spilon at 11:43 AM on April 18, 2003

Op-ed, eh? So why are we discussing this here in the blue?

Because we had almost gone three whole days without a Michael Moore thread! Three days, man!

No, this isn't hearsay.

posted by soyjoy at 11:50 AM on April 18, 2003

He has manipulated and stages scenes as far as I can tell in every film and become wealthy and powerful as a result by the left who consider him a source of "the truth"

Speaking from the left (and for my lefty circle of acquaintances), I must point out that most of us view Moore as an entertainer more than a dispassionate documentarian (is that a word?). If he doesn't belong in the documentary bucket for the awards, I say that's more a problem with the academy.

That I may share some viewpoints with him does not indicate I consider him a purveyor of unvarnished truth. I have always assumed intelligent people of the conservative persuasion don't really believe everything of what, say, Ann Coulter (for lack of a better analogy), might say, even if they find her entertaining or broadly aligned with their politics. I'd hope for the same courtesy.
posted by jalexei at 11:51 AM on April 18, 2003

True, a lot of the basis for this is coming from anti-Moore sentiment and has little to do with any respect for the definition of categories. Which is a shame since, even if Moore is right, he looses so much credibillity for his manipulative techniques.

Maybe there should be some sort of Dogme manifesto for documentary filmmakers.
posted by destro at 11:59 AM on April 18, 2003

This post is not even worth discussing. I could have predicted every response that has been posted here. Isn't Metafilter intended to spark intelligent conversation about interesting topics? I really don't think that discussing come moron's flame page fit's the bill. It's not all that different from the moron who wanted to change the name of Tolkein's Two Towers because of 9/11 and that was definitely not worth discussing.
posted by Raichle at 12:03 PM on April 18, 2003

BFC must be a documentary. I mean, it was voted the best documentary of all time by the International Documentary Association. (story here)

If they don't know what classifies something as a documentary, who does?
posted by graventy at 12:08 PM on April 18, 2003

Many documentaries use the techniques these people are moaning about. It's pretty common. Reality just doesn't work out right sometimes, so you have to go back and make it the way it was supposed to be. Or push it in the right direction. Or cut it up into pieces that fit better.
Remember, film is art.
posted by Outlawyr at 12:12 PM on April 18, 2003

Is it possible to make a documentary about a person's view on certain issues? I say it is, yet if those views were loyally expressed the movie would be nothing but a vehicle for that person's viewpoints. And if the documentary criticized those views the documentarists them selves would impose their views on the viewers. Thus, in both cases viewpoints are presented to the viewer, and the viewer would have to be very naïve if he or she thought a documentary was nothing but "facts".

A documentary would be worthless if all it did was present facts. Without any analysis or judgment it would be shallow and unrewarding.

In this particular case, IMHO, people are getting their knickers in a bunch for something of very little importance. It seems they dislike the political viewpoints of Moore and therefore gets all riled up about stuff that is very minor to an outsider.

OT: As a non-American I'm a bit surprised that some think of BfC as anti-American propaganda. I don't think it condemned America, quite to the contrary it came through as a reflective self-analysis of a uniquely American phenomenon; the very high gun crime frequency; and came up with answers that showed that it [b]wasn't[/b] because Americans were particularly "gun crazy" or "inherently evil" but because the American media was unique in the way it portrayed reality to its viewers. I've yet to hear a better explanation to this phenomenon.
posted by cx at 12:17 PM on April 18, 2003

No wonder it got a standing ovation at France's Cannes Film Festival.

Oh, is that where that is?
posted by muckster at 12:20 PM on April 18, 2003

Whatever your views of Moore and his films are, the only important thing is that you do some thinking as a result.

As full of distortion, truth, bullshit and insight as his films are, there are some things to ponder in them.

Like the difference between the US and other Western countries when it comes to civilians slaughtering civilians.

There's something broken about America. Going all hysterical over Moore's method of pointing it out doesn't serve to change the problem. Going all ostrich about it is no good, either.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:27 PM on April 18, 2003

Revoke the Oscar. Should "Bowling For Columbine" be considered non-fiction if it manipulated scenes and knowingly left out key information? Would a new category be better, like say adjusted documentary or propaganda? Or is it impossible to make a documentary without some point of view?

- the irony is simply delicious.
posted by johnnyboy at 12:28 PM on April 18, 2003

I think it's amusing how the tips page on that site only lists the first 13 or so words from the Academy's definition of a documentary. The full Rule Twelve (I) section states:

I. Definition
1. An eligible documentary film is defined as a theatrically released non-fiction motion picture dealing creatively with cultural, artistic, historical, social, scientific, economic or other subjects. It may be photographed in actual occurrence, or may employ partial re-enactment, stock footage, stills, animation, stop-motion or other techniques, as long as the emphasis is on fact and not on fiction.

2. A film that is primarily a promotional film, a purely technical instructional film or an essentially unfiltered record of a performance will not be considered eligible for consideration for the Documentary

I would also be interested in finding out what are the top ten best documentaries according to those in the anti-Moore crowd. any picks soulhuntre? others?
posted by gluechunk at 12:37 PM on April 18, 2003

It may be photographed in actual occurrence, or may employ partial re-enactment, stock footage, stills, animation, stop-motion or other techniques, as long as the emphasis is on fact and not on fiction.

Blatently fabricating events that didn't happen because reality isn't as damning as you'd like it to be isn't putting the emphasis on fact.
posted by wrffr at 12:51 PM on April 18, 2003

Would a new category be better...

I believe the term is "mockumentary," for mock documentary.

See "This is Spinal Tap," for another example.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 12:56 PM on April 18, 2003

There's no such thing as bad publicity.
posted by crunchland at 1:17 PM on April 18, 2003

I've seen Bowling for Columbine a few times, and while I may not agree with everything it says, I completely agree with the thesis of the movie - that America is a culture dominated and controlled by fear. I've been thinking a lot about this lately, and it really depresses me. Every time I turn on the news, it's one over-hyped danger after the next, even more so now that we're at war.

The culture of fear and intimidation has been slowly growing over the past twenty years, and seems to have exploded since 9/11. What have the big news stories been over the past two years? Child abductions, anthrax, terrorism, radical Islamics, shark attacks, SARS, etc - stories designed to scare people into not changing the channel.

Anyone ever watch The Pulse? It's that shitty Fox show on Thursday nights that they try to package as real journalism, but everyone knows it's got about as much journalistic integrity as Hard Copy had back in the day (which, ironically, was where that puppet O'Reilly used to work)... Anyway, that show's bread and butter is fear. A few weeks ago it had a sensationalistic "report" about how pumping gas can kill you. This week it's about heroin is going to kill your children.

And pretty much every network "news" show, from your local news all the way up to the high end cable networks, is guilty of this sort of sensationalistic "journalism".

Where the fuck are the real scary stories? Like the government being able to grab just about anyone and keep them for an undetermined amount of time, and not having to charge them with anything. To me, that's a hell of a lot more scary than SARS, or pumping gas.
posted by SweetJesus at 1:18 PM on April 18, 2003

"America was founded on violence and fear, as quarrelsome pilgrims fled to the new world, where their paranoia led them to massacre the Indians, then the British, and then each other;

The Columbine murderers' violence might have its roots in the fact that one had a father in our military (American soldiers are presumably murderers, and it must rub off on their kids) or that there was a defense contractor in the area;

Charlton Heston (one of Hollywood's few upstanding men) is a callous fool;

The terrorist attack on 9/11 is related to past American foreign policy -- in short, America's own fault

Funny, I agree with all the points that Moore made in this film.

Moore never pretended that this wasn't biased. But that doesn't mean it's not a documentary. He produces facts, lots of them, most of which America doesn't want to admit-and is why this "revoke the Oscar" site exists. I find it hard to believe that he made things up. Yes, he got a gun from a bank for opening an account. Yes, Kmart sells the bullets that were used in Columbine. Yes, Canada owns as many guns as the US but has a fraction of the gun related deaths. Yes, Charleton Heston is a hypocrite and a callous fool-I mean, the guy held gun rallies in the same town as gun deaths just occured (Columbine and after the kindergartner was shot by a schoolmate)..within DAYS of the tradegies. He gathered people together and called for more guns and praised them. If that's not callous or foolish, I don't know what is.

Moore backed up most of what he said with facts-whether or not they make people feel good or not.
posted by aacheson at 1:18 PM on April 18, 2003

Look, I'd love to have numerous films revoked of their Oscars. I think the ability to revoke an actor's Oscar could very well prevent things like, for example, Hilary Swank doing The Core.

But seriously, as gluechunk already pointed out, there isn't even a basis for being against this film "due to the rules."

This site is masturbation fodder for fanatic Moore haters who have porn blocked at work. It's equally stupid as sites demanding Bush's, or Clinton's, impachment based solely on the political dislike of the person. If the pro-gun right wants a display of facts promoting guns and a gun-toting society in America, stop attacking Moore and pick up your own damn camera.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 1:39 PM on April 18, 2003

Revoke the Oscar.

Good god, why? It's the only thing of value he's ever achieved. Not the film, mind you - which was more of a documentary about how facts get selected and distorted as they enter Michael Moore's brain - but rather the selection of the film to actually win an Oscar ... instead the large number of excellent, factual, documentary filmmakers who made the mistake of presenting their subject matter in a balanced way.

Let the Oscar stand - and let it be fully apparent what the standards of those selecting the winners are based upon.
posted by MidasMulligan at 2:28 PM on April 18, 2003

Talk about media that inspires fear and loathing - looks like Moore has filled this niche perfectly for the extremist right-wingers / gun lobby. He's single handedly exposed some key points about gun violence in America to a degree that no other writer, activist or personality has come to. No wonder the right-wingers are going nuts. Someone's whacked their nasty little wasps nest with a big fat stick.

While we're revoking Moore's Oscar, destro, why don't we revoke Fox News's broascasting licence? How about rebranding O'Reily as "an ironic comedy farce"?
posted by Jimbob at 2:40 PM on April 18, 2003

Who is paying for this site? Is it some lone, impassioned person who knows how to build an organized little site and create an astonishingly good caricature, or is it some larger organization that's funding this?

A look at the WHOIS record points to these people: This would allow Mr. Heston and the NRA, K-Mart, war supply contractors, Barnes and Noble, or any of the other companies Mr. Moore targets to fund this campaign without exposing themselves.

I'm wary of political speech where the speakers choose to hide.
posted by stevis at 2:45 PM on April 18, 2003

Revoke the Oscar.

Good god, why? It's the only thing of value he's ever achieved.

Oh, yeah?

In London, he won Book of the Year at the British Book Awards for "a satirical anti-war attack on President George Bush and the U.S. political machine." In Stupid White Men, he refers to "President" Bush and calls the election — well, not an election.

Stupid White Men is a best seller in the U.K., Germany, Australia and the USA. There are 825,000 U.S. editions in print and it has been translated (or will be shortly) into Greek, Arabic, Norwegian, Turkish, Dutch, Japanese, French, Chinese, Korean, Swedish, German, Slovenian, Serbian, Finnish, Danish, Hebrew, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese, according to U.S. publisher ReganBooks/HarperCollins. More than a half-million Penguin paperbacks are in print in the U.K.

But let's let Mr. Moore speak for himself:

Well, take a look at my Oscar "backlash":

-- On the day after I criticised Bush and the war at the Academy Awards, attendance at "Bowling for Columbine" in theatres around the country went up 110% (source: The following weekend, the box office gross was up a whopping 73% (Variety). It is now the longest-running consecutive commercial release in America, 26 weeks in a row and still thriving. The number of theatres showing the film since the Oscars has INCREASED, and it has now bested the previous box office record for a documentary by nearly 300%.

-- Yesterday (April 6), "Stupid White Men" shot back to #1 on the New York Times best-seller list. This is my book's 50th week on the list, 8 of them at number one, and this marks its fourth return to the top position, something that virtually never happens.

-- In the week after the Oscars, my website was getting 10-20 million hits A DAY (one day we even got more hits than the White House!). The mail has been overwhelmingly positive and supportive (and the hate mail has been hilarious!).

-- In the two days following the Oscars, more people pre-ordered the video for "Bowling for Columbine" on than the video for the Oscar winner for Best Picture, "Chicago".

-- In the past week, I have obtained funding for my next documentary, and I have been offered a slot back on television to do an updated version of "TV Nation"/ "The Awful Truth."

52 weeks now on the best seller list, with 8 as number 1, 20,000,000 hits a day on his website and besting the previous box office record for a documentary by nearly 300% are things of value to a person who's trying to put his point of view across, are they not? He's certainly reaching more people more convincingly than you by several orders of magnitude.
posted by y2karl at 4:38 PM on April 18, 2003

Bowling is a nasty bit of anti-American propaganda. Viewers are taught that: America was founded on violence and fear, as quarrelsome pilgrims fled to the new world, where their paranoia led them to massacre the Indians, then the British, and then each other...

That's not propaganda. That's history.

Charlton Heston (one of Hollywood's few upstanding men) is a callous fool..

Now that's opinion. That Heston is upstanding.

The terrorist attack on 9/11 is related to past American foreign policy -- in short, America's own fault..

Duh. Actually it's due generally to American foreign policy, but more specifically because of the actions of many corporate interests, both American and otherwise, which had ties to corporations in the World Trade Center. The terrorists attacked the economic and commercial aspects of the free world first, then the military, and then they aimed (and missed) the White House. That order was not an accident.

And all this ties in with what Moore's been saying all along. Moore's a voice in the wilderness. He's the hopeless cry for sanity amidst madness. He's the idiot saying, "beware the ides of March" and then some time around the following July you go, "ya know? The bastard was right."

I see nothing in this website's accusations that calls Moore a liar, or that he doesn't deserve the Oscar. Hell, they gave one to Haley Mills for Pete's sake. If I didn't know better, I'd think this website was put up by some of Moore's supporters, in an attempt to fan the flame of opposition so Moore can ride the wave of this latest publicity stunt a bit longer.

Come to think of it, I don't know better. It's probably just a gagsite. Or a site that makes me gag. One of the two.
posted by ZachsMind at 4:46 PM on April 18, 2003

Ever since the first documentary they haven't been completely honest. Nanook of the North was almost completely B.S. Either by editing footage in such a way to create narrative or entirely staging scenes, documentary filmmaking has never really been completely truthful.
posted by ODiV at 4:53 PM on April 18, 2003

Well, for a fact, in interviews on the DVD release of Dont Look Back, both D.A. Pennebaker and Bob Neuwirth reveal, as noted in this review, that several scenes were rehearsed. But then Dylan, for the most part, is playing himself rather than being himself in a film which is commonly acknowledged to be one of the most famous and influential music documentaries ever made, rehearsed scenes or not.
posted by y2karl at 6:16 PM on April 18, 2003

Ironic that the the site to which this post links attempts to manipulate the interpretation of the film. Get serious. Can anyone name a completely unbiased and objective documentary?
posted by quadog at 6:39 PM on April 18, 2003

Um, if Michael Moore is such a liar why isn't he busy with libel charges? Just a thought...
posted by boost ventilator at 6:51 PM on April 18, 2003

God bless America.

(Now shut the fuck up, Mr Moore. You're making us look bad.)
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:54 PM on April 18, 2003

Since the Acadamy betrayed America by conferring this award, we should ban the name "Oscar" and henceforth refer to anyone named Oscar as "Freedom". Oscar the Grouch from Sesame Street becomes Freedom the Grouch. Oscar Madison from The Odd Couple becomes Freedom Madison.

That'll teach those tratorous swine.

Now who's for a Freedom-Meyer bologna sandwich with American cheese?
posted by George_Spiggott at 7:08 PM on April 18, 2003

I don't understand the uproar. I've always felt that documentary filmmaking is just a style of making a film. It's just the method used by the filmmaker to set forth a narrative. Of course you're just going to get whatever message the filmmaker wants you to get. Big deal. Why would anyone think that a film is the absolute truth? Why would anyone actually form opinions based on one source? People are such lemmings.
posted by Juicylicious at 7:22 PM on April 18, 2003

I believe that Opinion Journal (that is, the WSJ's op-ed page) markets itself as 'non-fiction' also.

I'd rather have a documentary with a defined editorial voice that employs creative editing and re-enactment, actually, than have fiction that implicitly passes itself off as fact. Is it more troubling that Saving Private Ryan or The Patriot might be used, in certain environments, as a teaching aid for history classes, or that BFC might be used as part of a class on firearms? I'd say the former, because you don't walk away from Moore's film without a sense of it being the man's own opinion, forcefully (and often ham-fistedly) rammed home.
posted by riviera at 8:02 PM on April 18, 2003

you guys should see Mike plow through a Torch Burger.
posted by clavdivs at 8:10 PM on April 18, 2003

All Oscars should be revoked because they are all stupid and ridiculous. So should all other awards shows. Who really gives a crap about all that anyway????
posted by Eekacat at 8:16 PM on April 18, 2003

People are such lemmings.

Yep, but the funny thing is (since we're talking about documentaries and "truth") that lemmings aren't.
posted by soyjoy at 8:27 PM on April 18, 2003

Rather than risk being manipulated by Moore's sneaky lefty shenanigans, here's an unembellished fact from the CDC:

"In 1985, 311 (56%) of 553 homicides in Ohio occurred among relatives or acquaintances; 191 (61%) of these 311 homicides involved the use of firearms (Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), unpublished data, 1985). To learn more about firearm homicide among persons who are closely acquainted, the Ohio Department of Health (ODH), Division of Epidemiology, interviewed offenders involved in homicides occurring between 1982 and 1985 that met the following six criteria: the homicide"

Friends don't let friends own guns! At least, friends in Ohio.
posted by mecran01 at 9:12 PM on April 18, 2003

Some more notable irony is that I've read two separate articles reporting that Michael Moore passes his Oscar around audiences numbering in the thousands. Same here in Seattle.

Pssst. Hey guys. You can take it if you want.

You see. There's no need to actually revoke it, unless of course you never want to ever actually hold its weightiness in your own hands yourself. So regardless, you Americans who love America, the only real chance you'll ever have at holding a real Oscar is to do so as long as you're nice to an anti-American lying Hefty lawn bag of shit long enough for him to trust you to be nice to it.

And for the record: I have always been fucking intrigued by Zach's mind. I love the gymnastics Zach's mind does. One thing can be said: "Zach's got a mind alright".
posted by crasspastor at 9:21 PM on April 18, 2003

As a budding documentarian and one who has experience within the industry, I have mixed feelings over BFC.

Regardless of auteur objectivity, the distortion of the lens, or what goes on in the editing room, there is a difference between documentary and fictionalized works. Call it satire, propagandist, experimental, or mockumentary filmmaking, but do not label it as 'documentary'. This is not a general term that serves as a filmmaker's catchall; there is a generally accepted set of rules that set forth what is documentary and what is not.

Personally, I enjoyed BFC for its audacity, stylization, and attempts at investigating the root issues of gun violence in America. And yes, gun violence is a real issue.

However, I am saddened by what Moore has done, both for the medium of documentary and for the 'left'. You can invoke the Academy rules for what predicates a film as a documentary, however I want to point out the distinct difference between re-enactment and complete fabrication.

To be honest, many filmmakers will cheat certain scenes, using reaction shots from subjects who were being filmed separately as a means of re-enactment. However, this is all done in the spirit of truth. What Moore had done is not in that spirit; he has created an entirely different set of occurrences to satisfy his own personal political agenda. If you want to reward Moore with praise for making seemingly salient points with completely fabricated evidence, so be it. I can't.

That being said, I think they should revoke the oscar and award it to Spellbound. That was the best documentary nominated.

And thank you Soyjoy for the lemmings comeback. I enjoyed that.
posted by jazzkat11 at 10:58 PM on April 18, 2003

I can't believe the attention that Moore gets from Metafilter and the rest of the world. Sure he's a talented filmaker, but the publicity he gets is unheard of. I guess he really touched some nerves.

He must be very $ pleased $.
posted by sic at 3:00 AM on April 19, 2003

Revoke Michael Moore's Oscar

and probably would just love Rush Limbaugh to make a movie,

Next on Creature Feature: It's Battle Of The Self-Righteous Fat Guys! Stay tuned.

Roger & Me was a great movie precisely because he didn't walk through the movie acting superior to his subject and beating you over the head with his point of view. TV Nation was amusing at times as well. Since then his tone has become more party-line and his attitude more smug and condescending to those who might disagree. In short, he's become the left wing Limbaugh. Limbaugh himself, was of course always a bag of gas and made me pine for the days of Morton Downey Jr.. seems we need a new "average lug" spokesperson, I nominate Jim Goad, the one man one man on earth guaranteed to piss off all sensible people, and make you laugh doing it, because who needs sensible people really...
posted by jonmc at 7:28 AM on April 19, 2003

why don't we revoke Fox News's broascasting licence?
just an aside: fox news is a subsidiary of fox entertainment. 'tis true.
posted by quonsar at 7:31 AM on April 19, 2003

CrassPastor: "And for the record: I have always been fucking intrigued by Zach's mind. I love the gymnastics Zach's mind does. One thing can be said: 'Zach's got a mind alright'."

Uhm.. thanks? I think? I could take this as a veiled way of saying I waffle more than Bill Clinton (which I readily admit), but in this case I think it may be a misunderstanding. Do I side with Moore or not?

I agree with some of Michael Moore's sentiments and am entertained by his shenanigans, but I disagree with some of his methods. I don't see how he's improving the situation of those for whom he claims to be champion: i.e. The Working Class. Like Jerry Springer & others of his ilk, Moore pretends to be trying to improve a situation by opening communications between extremes and shining a light on things normally ignored, when actually he just wants to rile things up and add to the spectacle of humanity, because of how such publicity helps him personally. Moore's heart may be in the right place, but getting politicians into a moshpit, or causing boos in the audience of the Oscars, these are not steps in the right direction. His actions cause more problems than they solve.

However, for simplicity's sake, I'll take CrassPastor's backhanded compliment with humility and reverence. Thank you.

"documentary filmmaking has never really been completely truthful."

In my experience, documentaries present at least one side of any story, which is viewed as the truth from a certain point of view. Journalism attempts (when done well) to provide many sides of a given story. Documentarians are not always limited to journalistic integrity. It depends partly on the goals of the documentarian, where the money's coming from, and other behind-the-scenes issues.

The long and the short of it is this: take nothing said in today's society at face value, be it a documentary or a radio program or a MeFi post. Not everything is going to be your truth. It's apparently someone's truth, but one man's truth is merely opinion from another's perspective.

If I didn't SEE you save the universe, and wasn't aware the universe was even in trouble, how can I just take your word for it?

I'm reminded of George Lucas' retrofit rewrite job in The Empire Strikes Back. Others say he planned this all along, but my truth is that he reworked things in hindsight to explain some glitches in the first film's backstory. When Obi Wan Kenobi admits to Luke Skywalker that when he said in Star Wars that Darth Vader killed Luke's father (when in actuality they were one and the same person), what Ben said, "was truth, from a certain point of view."

Strangely, I recently saw Spy Kids 2 which dealt heavily with how adults twist truth to their own ends, and how this affects the mentality of youngsters growing up in such an environment. It was exagerrated, granted, but I was impressed with how such a complex and politically incorrect issue was handled in a film obviously geared towards very young people.

The Awful Truth is that there is no truth. There's my truth and there's your truth, and unfortunately, rarely shall the twain ever meet. Except of course, in the happily ever afters of the movies. =)
posted by ZachsMind at 11:16 AM on April 19, 2003

« Older Stunt Jesus   |   Jerry Springer: The Opera Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments