I really thought this film was a distressing but tragically fitting document of our times: like many of us, perhaps, Michael Moore cannot quite believe the world we are living in. “Did we dream it?” he asks, as if doubting his own sanity. The title is a nod to Michael Moore’s most famous documentary film, Fahrenheit 9/11, here cleverly inverting the title to Fahrenheit 11/9, and referring to the election of Donald Trump on 9th November 2016. Yes, in this film Moore examines the broken American political system, the lies, hypocrisy, lack of gun control, corporate mendacity, and chiefly the rise of Donald Trump and how the impossible happened, how it came to be that he got elected. There’s plenty of people in his sights, including, perhaps most distressingly of all, the Republican party’s opposition, the Democrats and the the rise (and Democrats own destruction) of Bernie Sanders. Everybody in power is dishonest, in it for themselves- the whole system is corrupt, leaving the ‘little people’ (yeah, I sneaked in a Blade Runner reference), the general public, left behind poorer and ignored in its wake. Its all oddly reminiscent of John Carpenter’s They Live, sadly.
Seeing what amounts to politics and our own political elite here in the UK, with the bewildering machinations of our self-serving Westminster politicians, the media manipulation, their convenient soundbites and aversion to answering genuine questions, while Brexit overshadows everything, it’s easy to see parallels between Moore’s arguments and what is happening over here.
A particularly harrowing section concerns Flint, Michigan, a city whose water supply was poisoned in 2014 by its Republican governor Rick Snyder who enriched his corporate cronies/sponsors by building an unnecessary pipeline that literally poisoned the people, leaving children with dangerous, life-changing levels of lead in their bodies. Moore shows how the authorities manipulated evidence and outright lied to the public, denying there was any problem. Worse of all, Moore’s film presents a damning indictment of then-President Barack Obama, who closed ranks with the corrupt Snyder by visiting Flint and delivering a patronising and empty speech in which he lied and even made a blatantly condescending pretense of drinking a glass of water. That a man so widely well-regarded as a noble and genuine leader, could be such a charlatan and fail to do anything to help, is shocking indeed. He comes across as badly as Trump himself, who is naturally the real villain and target of the film.
Its really all quite depressing, and it’s certainly difficult to describe any of it as entertaining (some footage of school gun attacks is particularly harrowing). Moore paints Trump as a Devil incarnate, even showing footage of Hitler and the Nazi rise to power in 1930s Germany under audio of Trump’s inane speeches. That section felt a step too far to me, but it certainly made its point about how an intelligent, liberal and open Germany of the 1920s could become what it did, reminding us that what could happen there could happen here- indeed, Moore reflecting that it is happening, right now, and people seem powerless to stop it.
Netflix has all sorts of documentary films on all sorts of subjects, but this one certainly is well worth anyone’s time if they want to ponder on the political state of the world we live in, the corruption and the lies, all that stuff that rightly makes us all angry. You may not agree with Moore’s point of view, but his argument is quite harrowing and the film something of an eye-opener. America is not the America we thought it was. Let’s hope the United Kingdom does not follow suit- mind, we have Boris as Prime Minister now. Maybe John Carpenter was right all along. The aliens are here.