The Opening Night of Farenheit 9/11

We parked on the street and marched toward the Chase Park Plaza,

"White House"

(no "W" in White House) splashed across our chests. We passed a restaurant with finely dressed patrons dining. Central West End in St. Louis, Missouri contains a funny mix of old money with young urban professionals with students.

Spirit ran high in the theater, where we all felt finally united behind the cause of ridding our administration of the Bush group in November, a cause in which we have found ourselves in the minority for so long. People of a variety of ages, races and backgrounds had come to see the movie. Some people were dressed up; some wore their hippie attire; a few had shirts with slogans as we did.

One woman had voter registration cards and was going down the line giving them to unregistered voters to fill out. Some men from the Human Rights Campaign,, gave out stickers that read, "George W. Bush: You're Fired!"

We had done well to buy tickets online earlier, as both 10 p.m. shows, as well as all the other shows for the evening, had already sold out. The theater had added a midnight show since viewing demand ran so high, and that sold out as well.

We all talked and giggled and enjoyed the camraderie of the others waiting to see the show. A feeling of unification behind a good cause prevailed. We sat in the theater and the movie began.

The movie was presented in chronological order. It started with the 2000 presidential elections. Apparently, all the news stations projected Al Gore as the winner of Florida, but then Fox News decided George W. Bush would be the victorious one. The other stations followed suit. But wait until you find out who was behind the ruling of Fox News's winner projection. Whoa!

Michael Moore then presents the links between the Bush and bin Laden family, then the events of September 11 and how the Bush family reacted. He discusses how some Bush administration members have benefitted financially from the war in Iraq.

Like previous films, such as "Roger and Me," Moore relies on contrast to lead the viewer to draw conclusions. He intertwines clips concerning the financial benefit of those associated with the Bush administration with stories of American soldiers who have suffered and died in the war with the grief of these families with the hardships of the Iraqi people with just enough comic relief.

I learned surprisingly little from the movie. Knowing the director's obvious bias, I had tried to go in with a somewhat skeptical attitude of what I would be presented in an attempt to fill my brain with a balanced view of whatever new facts I learned. I was shocked when I realized that this highly controversial movie, boycotted by some groups, simply presented mostly what I'd already learned just by reading a variety of media sources from for several years. These facts have already been presented to the American people. Why is this pieced-together story such a shock now?

Additionally, I was surprised at how much Moore did not have time to cover in the movie. What about our failing relationship with longtime United States allies, and the huge debt our country will incur as a result of this war, and the ignoring of the war protests all over our nation and all over the world? What about the fact that prisoners have been held in horrific conditions at Guantanamo Bay for over two years, and as of a couple of weeks ago, only three have even been charged with a crime? I felt that another whole movie could be created with entirely different information that would equally explain the case against the war.

The audience reacted surprisingly little to the movie, as we were all mesmerized by hearing the bits and pieces of all the horrors of these past 4 years, finally put together in a chronological order. Laughter ensued more than once at Bush's, uh, eloquent grasp of use of the English language. The mention of the Carnahan vs. Ashcroft election of November 2002 brought applause to this theater of Missourians.

I was armed with Diet Coke, as I usually go to bed by the time the movie started, as well as a nice thick stack of Kleenexes. Boy, did I need them! I could not cry for the most tragic of cases, the Iraqi people desparately scraping at post-bomb building rubble with bare hands in an attempt to unbury their families and neighbors, or the babies with body parts blown off. These scenes left me numb; they showed tragedy on degrees of order beyond what I have ever felt, beyond what we normally see in this country. It was the American mother in her living room, reading the last letter from her son who was killed two weeks after reading it, that sent me over the edge, and I could not stop weeping.

Why did it take this movie, and the coverage of the prison scandal at Abu Ghraib, to start getting people angry?

Where was the concern

- when we previously heard about Dick Cheney's link with Halliburton,
- when the war casualty count continually rose,
- when the administration tried to block the media from showing pictures of American soldiers' coffins,
- when we all saw someone we knew sent to Iraq,
- when CIA operative Valerie Plame's name was leaked in response to the criticism of her husband Joseph Wilson of the administration,
- when Bush made the false claim that Iraq had attempted to obtain uranium from Niger,
- when no Weapons of Mass Destruction were found,
- when the Iraqi people went week after week without water supplies or electricity restored after our attacks,

and in so many other recent situations?

We left the movie not with a feeling of victory, not with an increased hatred of Bush, but with a sense of urgency that something needed to be done, with a longing for a country with a reasonable foreign policy. We recognized the parts of the film where some conclusions of Moore's seemed unfair; the past couple of years have honed our skills at seeing through bias as we have viewed the American media. All in all, no matter on which side of the political situation you stand, you will want to see this film.

This upcoming election is important.