Censor Michael Moore!
June 13, 2004 5:12 PM   Subscribe

Even paranoids have enemies... A Web site posing as nonpartisan that is funded by a GOP PR outfit and a Senate candidate urges people to call theaters to complain about their plans to show the Michael Moore film "Farenheit 9/11" when it opens. Some theater owners report death threats. The movie's infamous trailer has already been called one of the most effective anti-Bush campaign ads in circulation. So who is behind the censorship effort? Cosmic Iguana, "the voice of the evildoers", has some clues. Why, it's Howard Kaloogian, one of the men behind the Gray Davis recall, who also ran a successful campaign to kill an unfavorable CBS biopic of His Holiness the Gipper. Small world.
posted by Slagman (55 comments total)
Don't get me wrong, I'm not a big fan of Michael Moore. I think he's a blowhard, and his film is no doubt a partisan polemic. But I hate censorship. We let Mel Gibson prance around the country with his S&M show; we can tolerate a
little political dissent.
posted by Slagman at 5:13 PM on June 13, 2004

we can tolerate it--obviously other people can't tolerate any criticism of our dear leader. The more they try to stop it, the more people will want to see it.
posted by amberglow at 5:24 PM on June 13, 2004

Where does that website claim to be nonpartisan? It talks about the "shamelessly liberal news media and left-wing politicians" right in the first paragraph.
posted by stifford at 5:26 PM on June 13, 2004

Also, who needs the Cosmic Iguana to give us clues about who Howard Kaloogian is, when Kaloogian says all the same stuff on the "Daily File" section of the webpage?

About Me
Name:Howard Kaloogian Location:San Diego, California, United States
The Honorable Howard Kaloogian served as a Member of the California State Assembly from 1994-2000. Mr. Kaloogian made history as Chairman of the Recall Gray Davis Committee, leading the historic effort that replaced failed California governor, Gray Davis, with Arnold Schwarzenegger. Considering former President and California Governor Ronald Reagan to be one of his political heroes, Kaloogian was Chairman of the Defend Reagan Committee (www.DefendReagan.org) which successfully rallied millions of Americans to oppose the airing of the CBS' hatchet piece "The Reagans."

posted by stifford at 5:32 PM on June 13, 2004

On Friday a friend of mine told me about all these odd emails he and some co-workers had been getting lately. (He works in payroll for one of the theater chains, although he does review films online.) Sure enough, there's his email address on the list.
posted by Guy Smiley at 5:34 PM on June 13, 2004

This question may seem off-topic, but in a way it is on-topic: the trailer is hosted by Apple. Numerous movie trailers are hosted by Apple.

How does Apple profit from hosting such trailers? Does Apple not profit and merely seeks brand recognition?
posted by quam at 5:49 PM on June 13, 2004

Ok, answered one of my own questions. They claim to be Non-partisan on their "About Us" section of the website. My mistake, it just seemed that everything else I read on the site was obviously partisan.
posted by stifford at 5:51 PM on June 13, 2004

Guy, I would suggest your friends get the corporate counsel to send these jizzwads a strongly worded letter since, due to spam harvesters, their business email addresses are now useless and the company will now have to spend significant resources changing them.
posted by billsaysthis at 5:51 PM on June 13, 2004

"Now watch this drive..."
posted by jpoulos at 5:58 PM on June 13, 2004

How does Apple profit from hosting such trailers?

All the trailers are posted in Quicktime format. Apple wants Quicktime to become the standard video format on the web, so it's in their best interests if the most easily accessible trailers on the web are available through Apple via Quicktime.
posted by fatbobsmith at 6:08 PM on June 13, 2004

We would like to thank those individuals at Lions Gate Entertainment and IFC Films who support our efforts.

What the hell is that statement about? What, did those two companies decline to distribute the movie, so now they're heroes or something?

More importantly, is there a good way to communicate to these theatre chains that they shouldn't be intimidated by these thugs? Without sending them even more e-mail, I mean?
posted by pmurray63 at 6:12 PM on June 13, 2004

Behold the teh Rovian handiwork.

And while Moore might push hard, he's no blowhard, and he stays closer to the truth than Limbaugh & Hannity, by a longshot.

Face it, if the film was so far fetched, they wouldn't be fearing it like this shows they are.
posted by BentPenguin at 6:21 PM on June 13, 2004

is there a good way to communicate to these theatre chains that they shouldn't be intimidated by these thugs? Without sending them even more e-mail, I mean?

Yeah. Go to the movie when it opens. There are quite a few venues where the movie opens in a week or two, and no amount of email from anyone will keep those theatres from going ahead with it. Go to the movie and vote with your dollar.
posted by crunchland at 6:23 PM on June 13, 2004

Actually, i think it was very nice of them to give us a list of emails where we could encourage them to show the film.
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 6:24 PM on June 13, 2004

"Now watch this drive..."

that line's already a classic
I think it'll become more popular as a catchphrase than "son we don't read the bills here..."
posted by matteo at 6:50 PM on June 13, 2004

All beff Patry™?
posted by wendell at 7:08 PM on June 13, 2004

lists tell you alot about the people who make them.

that should be "hail the pastry" in mikes case there skallas
posted by clavdivs at 7:09 PM on June 13, 2004

How does Apple profit from hosting such trailers?

Every time you watch a trailer, Apple reinstalls the little QuickTime fellow that crops up (visibly or invisibly) in your system tray. Their general corporate strategy: world domination, starting from your system tray. Once a week I get curious about a movie and have to go fix my registry.
posted by Zurishaddai at 7:12 PM on June 13, 2004

This film is going to be huge. The theatre chains are as likely to drop it as they are to throw bundles of hundred dollar bills in their furnace. They won't be intimidated by this because they know that for every email they get they'll sell a thousand tickets. By all accounts this is a much better film than Bowling for Columbine, it's on a topic that's on the front of everyone's mind, and it has everything that the news organizations have been so obligingly quiet about. It would not be going too far to say that Americans are starved for the material that's (reportedly) in this film, and I'd be very surprised if it didn't end up being the highest grossing documentary ever made. No way in hell are theatres walking away from that. Not one.
posted by George_Spiggott at 7:15 PM on June 13, 2004

hows about a hug big mikey
posted by clavdivs at 7:21 PM on June 13, 2004

Zurishaddai, just delete C:\Program Files\Quicktime\qttask.exe.
posted by Sxyzzx at 7:52 PM on June 13, 2004

Theatres that are willing to cave in to conservative pressure will suffer economically. Fair enough.
posted by milovoo at 8:26 PM on June 13, 2004

Imagine (in a parallel universe) (or in our own USA) what would happen if a powerful pro-Bush film were to appear in the multiplexes?

First of all, Liberals would not mount a boycott. Liberals support free speech.

Secondly, it would be pretty much what we've seen on TV for three and a half years, so the box office figures would be pretty lame. Unless they made up stuff.

Lastly, HEY! Since when is protesting public policy a criminal thing to do?

I am old enough to recall that a recent president was IMPEACHED about lying about intimate affairs.

(OK, I'm old enough to recall a President lying about breaking into the enemy's camp to try to win an election.)

If Reality Movies break into Reality and influence an election...well, boo-hoo G.W. Hope your book sells as well as Clinton's.
posted by kozad at 8:38 PM on June 13, 2004

clavdivs - you love the "facts", eh?

Why not stick to them ?
posted by troutfishing at 8:39 PM on June 13, 2004

Note: The response so far has been overwhelming! Thousands upon thousands of you have already joined this effort. We've had over 350,000 hits to our website in the last 3 days alone - and this has been over a weekend (a time when Internet traffic is usually at it's lowest). I also note that we've received a handful of emails from those who support Michael Moore who are dismayed that we are speaking up. I wonder why they are so afraid of the opinion of the American public?
posted by Slagman at 8:55 PM on June 13, 2004

Why does Howard Kaloogian hate America?
posted by Slagman at 8:56 PM on June 13, 2004

Holy crap! I hadn't seen the trailer yet. If the rest of the film is anywhere near as slick (and hopefully missing the bits of faux-puppy dog eyed "Mr. Heston, will you look at this picture..." lameness of Moore's previous effort) you can bet I'll not only watch it, but pay for an on the fence friend or two to see it.
posted by guidedbychris at 9:01 PM on June 13, 2004

A group of like minded people getting together to tell corporate entities what they should do?

This is a problem?

(Not that I support his effort any more than efforts such as those to get Dr. Laura's TV show dropped by stations or efforts way back when to get The Simpsons off the air.)
posted by obfusciatrist at 9:02 PM on June 13, 2004

kozad: First of all, Liberals would not mount a boycott. Liberals support free speech.

Not necessarily the case. Both liberals and conservatives argue for using one's pocketbook as a political statement by supporting businesses with policies you support and not supporting businesses with policies you don't support. One can certainly ridicule the logic behind the boycott, but saying boycotts are free speech issues is very flawed.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:15 PM on June 13, 2004

Just FYI, fact-index.com (from the Gray Davis link) is just copied info from wikipedia with ads. (stuart_s pointed this out in ask.me)
posted by milovoo at 9:39 PM on June 13, 2004

As far as organizing boycots go, I'm with Kozad that if I support liberal boycots of conservative stuff (and I do), I can't really complain about conservative boycotts of liberal stuff. (Well, I can complain about the aim, not the tactic.)

On the other hand, this is pretty close to astroturfing1, which is evil; and I oppose it as a tactic utilized for any cause.

1 I make no claims about the reliability of that link. I just searched for something that defined "astroturfing".
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 9:45 PM on June 13, 2004

trharlan - Editor and Publisher magazine did a survey prior to the 2000 election - editors and publisjers of major print media in the US thought Bush would win by both a numerical and electoral landslide.


In fact - reports E&P - major print media in the US has endorsed Republican Presidential candidates in most elections since the 1930's.

I don't know whether those opinion-makers constitute a "market" or not, but I'd make that call myself.

"The magazine Editor & Publisher has been tracking newspaper endorsements of presidential candidates since 1932.  Contrary to the myth of the liberal media, in only two elections since then -- 1964 and 1992 -- have more endorsements gone to the Democratic candidate than the Republican.  The 2000 election was no exception, according to a survey E&P (11/6/00) commissioned of newspaper executives: 48 percent said their paper would support George W. Bush, while only 23 percent were picking Al Gore.  Personally, 59 percent of publishers said they planned to vote for Bush, v. just 20 percent inclined to Gore."  (Extra! (FAIR), January/February, 2001). (passed on via this site, and also see here

Here, almost in it's entirety, is the Rosetta Stone of modern American Editorial and Publisher bias, this, pre-2000 election E&P survey :

"George W. Bush is heading for a surprisingly comfortable win in Tuesday's presidential election, according to a new E&P/TIPP survey of the nation's newspaper
editors and publishers, completed Tuesday."

posted by troutfishing at 9:53 PM on June 13, 2004

Predictions are not the same thing as endorsements. And the political affiliation and leanings of people in journalism moves rightward as you move up the chain from reporters to editors to publishers. Publishers are predominately conservative. Reporters are predominately liberal. Whether this means their reporting is slanted to the left or right is another matter. A good argument can be made that the two largely cancel each out. And, I personally think, political bias is swamped by the much greater biases that exist (access to sources, corporate connections, etc.).
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 10:24 PM on June 13, 2004

"We would like to thank those individuals at Lions Gate Entertainment and IFC Films who support our efforts.

What the hell is that statement about?-pmurray63 Where did you get that quote, pmurray63? I'm not sure what it is about either, but if you check the link that crunchland posted above^ you will see the the logos of Lions Gate Entertainment and IFC Films prominently displayed. And if you click on their respective links you will see that "Fahrenheit 911" is definitley being promoted.

Also, with regards to the website, I thought it was interesting that their Message Group is a link to a YahooGroup under the category of "World Trade Center and Pentagon Attacks."
posted by jaronson at 10:26 PM on June 13, 2004

Why does Howard Kaloogian hate America?

Why is Howard Kaloogian despised by fellow conservatives? (Answer: because he's a liar and takes credit for the handiwork of others and appropriates them for his own.)
posted by calwatch at 11:13 PM on June 13, 2004

he stays closer to the truth than Limbaugh & Hannity

Set that bar sky-high didn't ya, Mike?
posted by techgnollogic at 11:57 PM on June 13, 2004

"First of all, Liberals would not mount a boycott. Liberals support free speech."

Right. Sure. No liberal protests about movies or books or radio. Gotcha.
posted by soulhuntre at 3:52 AM on June 14, 2004

jaronson: I found the line about Lion's Gate and IFC on this page. I actually found the answer to my question after I rewatched the trailer, and I was exactly wrong with my guess: Lion's Gate and IFC are the ones distributing the film. So perhaps a few of their employees have expressed unhappiness about it.
posted by pmurray63 at 7:26 AM on June 14, 2004

On the boycott issue...

Liberals and the left should not support boycotts, in my opinion, though this is not a universally held belief among liberals and the left. You can certainly choose not to use or buy a product, and that is good, but to organize a campaign aimed at keeping others from using or buying the product is the real problem. If churches want to buy bulk tickets to Gibson's Passion, that's fine -- I won't, and I will gladly shout from the mountain tops why you should not. But that's not what is happening here. It's true that some organized boycotts like the one against Nestle have produced humanitarian victories. But the history of boycotts shows that
they are far more often used to silence liberal and left voices.
For example, the McCarthy era blacklists were in effect a boycott. But there are many other examples where publications and broadcasts were shut down by organized boycotts. These were cases where some work had a potentially sizeable audience that was denied access to the work because of intimidation. In the end, this sort of thing is more than a boycott. It is one thing to distribute a polemic and have it be a flop, quite another -- as was the case with Moore -- to have your own publisher warehouse your book for months after it was supposed to be released or to have a broadcaster be intimidated by death threats and the like.

Take the Reagan thing -- by all accounts, this biopic sucked.
It would have been on the air for a night and disappeared. Instead, it never appeared on broadcast TV, was shown in edited form on Showtime.

I believe in a free marketplace of ideas. If someone wants to make a movie out of one of Ann Coulter's fictions, and it is as powerful and damning as I expect Moore's propaganda piece to be, so be it.
posted by Slagman at 8:20 AM on June 14, 2004

I guess liberal means "whatever we don't like."

Ding! Ding! Ding! We have a winner!
posted by rushmc at 9:26 AM on June 14, 2004

hey trout, WTF are you talking about?
posted by clavdivs at 9:35 AM on June 14, 2004

clavdivs - It was in response to trharlan's comment on this thread, "The market is still putting a Bush re-election at 60%. I again encourage those of you who feel that this is a(nother) death knell to make some hay."

I'm noting that the "market" (not the same "market" harlan refers to but, instead, the media "market" of editor and publisher opinion) was not especially objective in predicting the 2000 election results and that this was true to a long term pattern of right-leaning bias dating back to the 1930's (per the two Editor & Publisher studies I referred to).
posted by troutfishing at 9:50 AM on June 14, 2004

OK, look, there's some confusion here about what constitutes a "boycott".

A boycott is when a person/group of people refuse to buy/use some good, usually as some means of protest. There's no "free speech" issue- YOU can go buy X, but I'M not going to.

What this site advocates IS NOT a boycott. They're trying to rally people to coerce theatres/distributers into not showing the film. The (hoped for) net effect of this action is not only that I, as a "concerned patriot", do not get to see it, but you, as a disinterested third party, do not get to see it either.

See the difference?
posted by mkultra at 12:10 PM on June 14, 2004

But a boycott is usually intended to have the same effect, isn't it? It's intended to exert influence on the behavior of the boycottee, which will inevitably have an effect on third parties—most of whom probably had no problem with the company or product. So, a boycott is not merely the exercise of a personal choice.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 1:01 PM on June 14, 2004

EB- the intent is the same, but the means are different- "lead by example" vs. "harassment".
posted by mkultra at 1:18 PM on June 14, 2004

So when Michael Moore took that injured kid to the K-Mart headquarters, to get them to stop selling ammunition to disinterested third parties, that was harrassment and coersion, right?
posted by techgnollogic at 2:34 PM on June 14, 2004

"So when Michael Moore took that injured kid to the K-Mart headquarters, to get them to stop selling ammunition to disinterested third parties, that was harrassment and coersion, right?—technollogic
That's loaded language that we're using, but, yeah, I don't see how it's different. It's different in that I happen to support the effort to get K-Mart to stop selling guns and I don't support the effort to get theaters to stop showing Farenheit 9/11. But it seems like pretty much the same sort of tactic with (abstractly) the same sort of intended effect.

I have some trouble with the tendency to see the behavior of conservatives when they're trying to change the world to be prima facie outrageous while seeing similar attempts at world-changing on the part of liberals as not. Sure, I happen to agree that the conservatives' goals are outrageous. But trying to remake the world to something that more closely confrms to their ideals...why is it (the activity of trying to change things for everyone, not just them) wrong when they do it but right when we do it?
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 2:46 PM on June 14, 2004

trout, baby WTF are you talking about. i do not recall responding to anything like what you posted.
posted by clavdivs at 2:59 PM on June 14, 2004

Liberals support free speech.

Perhaps you ought to read Nat Hentoff's excellent (but unjustly out-of-print) book Free Speech for Me—But Not for Thee: How the American Left and Right Relentlessly Censor Each Other.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 3:15 PM on June 14, 2004

Newsflash: techgnollogic compares a boy getting shot to someone's political sensibilities being tested.
posted by Space Coyote at 4:24 PM on June 14, 2004

Um, no, I compared selling bullets to selling movie tickets, but the merits of either case have nothing to do with my point. In both cases, someone wants to prevent some business from selling something they don't like to anybody else. Neither case fits the usual definition of boycott, and if one is harrassment and coersion then so is the other. You can't criticize the tactic in one case and not in the other. Either the tactic is fair or it isn't, and if your case is that it's ok to coerce and harrass bullet retailers because bullets can kill, then please teach us all about the benign and harmless history of ideas, and how no one has ever died over political differences. My guess is that ideological wars have killed a few more people than KMart ammunition.
posted by techgnollogic at 7:56 PM on June 14, 2004

I have yet to see a Dear Leader, Dubya Cult choir singer ever use anything more than absurd talking points, largely based upon American exceptionalist myth, ever. Astroturfing, as with roughing people up for, heaven forefend, disagreement with the thoughts you might have coursing through your brain is the manifestation of lazy emotionalism and narcissistic ignorance. It's all right there. The GOP and their enabling, racist, proto-fascist, fundamentalist, "you lookin' at me?" foot soldiers are a case in point, the symptom to end all symptoms, of what is going to destroy this country. The end game is such that nobody can actually win it. Except! Except to wingnuts (left and right) the ends always justify the means, no matter how myopic.

What we need is a little pragmatism. Unfortunately it's gotten to the point that Michael Moore is adding up to be the sole fulcrum in which our teetering civilization now balances. Think about it! We await a movie, the medium at which the first ever marketed conservative American demigod got his start, recently bodily ascended, to magically save us from destruction. Need I remind anyone of what unabashed criminals we have running the show right now? Wherever you sit on the political spectrum, shit is seriously out of whack. That any of this is necessary testifies to the autumn of our once great democracy. It's come down to black and white, each side is good fighting the other side which is evil.

I'm telling you. We need to find a happy medium or we will all be destroyed. Or at least unhappy for the rest of our lives.
posted by crasspastor at 8:26 PM on June 14, 2004

Maybe it's not as bad as some think.
posted by techgnollogic at 9:10 PM on June 14, 2004

Mi amigo Matt L, who does payroll for a certain chain of movie theaters that are local Landmarks, reports that due not only to moveamericaforward.org mistakenly putting him on the we-hate-Fahrenheit-9/11-and-you-can-do-something-about-it email list, but also certain others putting that list to their own we-love-Fahrenheit-9/11-and-thanks-for-showing-it purposes, he (and several other administrative-types [read: not in control of what movies are showing] now have hundreds and hundreds of both pro- and con- emails clogging his work inbox, disrupting his efforts to process the paychecks of dozens - nay, hundreds - of teenaged ticket sellers and popcorn jockeys across this great land.

If you wish to register your opinion, please send it to the official comments email address of the theater or chain you wish to influence. Please. Don't let moveonamerica.org's shoddy fact checking drag you down with it.
posted by Guy Smiley at 9:59 PM on June 14, 2004

techgnollogic- your straw-man argument aside, I'm just pointing out that what this site is suggesting is not a boycott. Neither is Moore marching into K-Mart. What's your point?

HOWEVER, there's a WORLD of difference between attempting to stop a huge retailer from selling bullets over the counter and attempting to stop a movie theatre from showing a film you disagree with. Do I need to spell out the difference?
posted by mkultra at 8:04 AM on June 15, 2004

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