Rob Edelman: Michael And Donald

Oct 1, 2018

The latest feature from documentarian-satirist Michael Moore is just arriving in movie theaters. It is titled FAHRENHEIT 11/9. Even though it touches on a range of contemporary issues, from gun violence in America to the poisoning of water in Flint, Michigan, which is Moore’s hometown, it primarily-- and unsurprisingly-- works as a condemnation of Donald Trump. Simply put, in FAHRENHEIT 11/9, Moore likens our president to Adolph Hitler. He links Trump’s rise to political power to that of Hitler in Germany in the 1930’s. The film’s title is directly connected to November 9, 2016: the date in which it was officially announced that Trump bested Hillary Clinton in the most recent presidential election. It was assumed that Hillary would win, hands down. But the moral of that story is: Never assume!   

Plus, it is senseless for all American citizens to be blindly embraced by Trump. This parallels the appalling, sexist rationalization of a number of years ago that, if you are in the process of being raped, well, you might as well lie back and enjoy it. Only here, “rape” is displaced by Donald Trump’s brand of fascism. But all is not lost. Moore’s point is to actively resist Trump and his cronies. Vote ‘em all out of office!

FAHRENHEIT 11/9 certainly will be loudly applauded by those who are mortified by Donald Trump. However, will those who are Trump supporters first even bother to see FAHRENHEIT 11/9 and then exit the theater with their eyes wide open concerning the reality of Donald Trump? This somehow is highly doubtful, given the state of our nation in 2018. On a Tuesday, Trump may offer a proclamation on a range of subjects, too many to even begin listing here. Then on Wednesday or Thursday, he will declare the exact opposite and his supporters remain oblivious to all this. For after all, one may contrast and edit together clip after clip of Trump’s falsehoods, and the result just may be the longest documentary in film history.

Ultimately, FAHRENHEIT 11/9 is entertaining and enlightening in a Michael Moore-kind of way. But what sort of impact will it have on all American citizens? What sort of impact will it have on all American voters? I would hope that FAHRENHEIT 11/9 will serve as a wake-up call but, at this point in time, I would highly doubt this...

Rob Edelman teaches film history courses at the University at Albany. He has contributed to many arts and baseball-related publications; his latest book, which he co-edited, is From Spring Training To Screen Test: Baseball Players Turned Actors. His frequent collaborator is his wife, fellow WAMC film commentator Audrey Kupferberg.

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