Japan Today
Moore hopes 'Fahrenheit' will bring about regime change in Japan

NEW YORK — Controversial American filmmaker Michael Moore said Tuesday he hopes the global release of his documentary "Fahrenheit 9/11" will usher in "regime changes" in countries like Japan and Australia.

In a press conference with foreign journalists in New York, Moore said his polemical movie should encourage people in all democratic countries that have supported the U.S.-led war in Iraq to vote their leaders out of office.

There is definitely less news and information in Japanese about the theories about why the US went to war. A lot of the stuff in the movie will be new to many Japanese. I'd be interested to see what the Japanese public reaction to the movie is. My sense is that we already have enough reasons to mistrust the government that people with probably sign numbly and not do anything. But I could be wrong.

23 Comments

I worry that this has the same impact as showing only one party's pseudo-fact based compaign advertising outside the US--essentially a propaganda campaign that outrages and breeds hatred rather than starting a good discussion or push for the truth.

It seems like American 'liberals' are much more internationally focused than American 'conservatives' at least judging from where they live (i.e. the coasts are more left-leaning than the inland states). So, it's unlikely that the Japanese would hear the other side of the story except from the soundbytes of Bush/Rice/Rumsfeld that they get.

And judging from the critical reviews, this is great film making and storytelling but not really a documentary grounded firmly in fact (http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/Fahrenheit911-1133649/).

So, it doesn't seem much different from trying to get regime change by airdropping propoganda except I'll bet that more Japanese citizens would believe an American movie over an airdropped leaflet. Ironically, it could be the nationalistic, black truck driving, xenophobic Japanese conservatives that back this movie most and a regime change in that direction would be completely against Michael Moore's espoused values.

Chris -

Interesting theory about left-coasters having a greater influence on international opinion. I think most Asians are able to gauge the political leaning of the foreigner squawking at them though. The question is, how accurately will the Asian media present the issues, if at all?

To me, there were two key premises to the film. The first was that the US governement appears to be suffereing from a degree of incompetence and that it has been arrogant enough to lie to the public when lives were at stake.

The second main premise was that the media fell asleep at the wheel as we went to war against Iraq. Instead of asking the hard-hitting questions that were it's responsibility to pose, major media organizations actually failed to preserve and protect their impartiality. Without impartiality the media became vulnerable to prejudice and passion. According to Moore, the media may even be guilty of lies of omission. Can we expect better of the media abroad?

So, what lies did you come across in the movie? I mean, that's what a "psuedo-fact" is, right? A lie. :) I didn't detect any lies or magical mind manipulation tricks. What I saw was an amount of *open* speculation combined with an overwhelming proportion of verifiable fact.

The Japanese tend to be more comfortable with republicans and although Japanese are somewhat Socialist-like, they tend not to really understand or at least whole-heartedly back liberal ideas. (Obviously, I'm generalizing here...) And I don't think the liberals in the US have really cared much about Japan in the past. The conservatives have made much more progress in developing ties with the Japanese... or at least that's my understanding.

a "psuedo-fact" can also be a lie of ommission. ironic that it may also apply to Moore and *his* media.

for example, i may be caught on camera saying "in a worst case scenario, rioting protestors should be disbanded with tear gas."

however, someone could edit that statement to "protestors should be disbanded with tear gas," and frame me as an intolerant, violent jerk. i'm not, by the way :)

a statement taken out of context is still factual, but can be slanted and misrepresented. read Unfairenheit 9/11 for a very interesting take on Moore and his movie.

This is a little off topic, but I would like to add that I think the Saudi speculation in Moore's movie really is its Achille's heel. That's because by definition, he's not saying anything of substance when he guesses. He lays out an unverifiable scenario and that can create a nefarious risk that some will draw untrue conspiracy theories. However, Moore challenges the powers that be to fill in the void by truthfully answering touchy questions about our relationship with the Saudis.

There's some breif, but scary footage of Japanese hostages being threatened that might strike a chord with Japanese audiences. My guess is that this film won't have a dramatic effect on opinions there unless the conflict ends up putting Japanese interests at stake in the near future.

Dermot, I just read the Christopher Hitchens article. Thanks. Isn't he the guy that wrote a book about Mother Theresa being a sham or something? I've noticed that in his work, he often loves to be the contrarian. That's cool.

It's a well written article. I only wish he would use his savage wit to analyze the "other side" as well. Are we unwilling to disect our government to the same degree?

BTW one of Japan's movie sched site MovieWalker shows F9/11 as #6 in the TopTen scale of "movies I wanna see soon" listing. so, I assume the demand is high in Japan.

HEllo,

Christopher Hitchens is an interesting fellow. He was and to an extent still is, a liberal but he is also a very articulate supporter of the war against Saddam and the manner in which the war in Iraq was conducted. Thus he is now denouced by the liberals as a turncoat and he is bit uncomfortably leftie to be embraced by the conservatives.

I don't think that his piece on Michael Moore's film is "one of his best" and neither does he as you can see that he would welcome further debate with Moore who has leapt behind a phalanx of lawyers and merely makes idiotic pronouncments that he hopes his film creates regime change in Japan.

Good god! Koizumi is not doing much but he is doing more than any PM has done for years to shake up the ji-sans in the Diet. Besides, he has incredible hair which makes him unique among world leaders today!

To suggest that Japan's 500 "armed tourists" are contributing to the war effort (other than perhaps providing some target practice for the insurgents) is ludicrous...or rather is all too typical of the way Michael Moore works. Japan sends a token force to Iraq and gives bare minimum cooperation to the war effort and Moore would have governments toppled. He just takes off on some hyperbolic curve.

As for what the Japanese who lay out Y1400 to see F911 will think of it, ultimately it won't matter because it's not a voting or a "votable" issue in Japan. Politically the danger is that a significant number of the JSDF in Iraq get slaughtered, not what people think of America's reasons for going to war. Should Koizumi be knocked from his perch, the LDP will dust off some ancient and reinvent itself to suit the moment and stasis will be restored.

Anyway, Hitchins is well worth reading and if you ever get a chance to hear him in person or even on the radio he is absolutely delightful to listen to.

Michael S. Copley

Mike, I haven't seen the movie yet, only the reviews (and the Hitchens piece). From what I've read, the major device used is the enthymematic conclusion where Moore might put out a bunch of (factual) images and the viewer would then reach the (speculative) conclusion. This is no different from the Willie Horton ads of the 88 campaign (see http://www.pressroom.com/~afrimale/jamieson.htm) where few of the individual images are in themselves outright lies but the result is far from reflective of reality. It's almost like showing a Worth1000.com image to someone who's never heard of Photoshop or trick photography--they're bound to believe what they see.

Joi, good point about those who reached out. I overlooked the trade ties and diplomatic links. I guess it's more the activists and foriegn bloggers in japan that seem left leaning. For example, getting an USabsentee ballot is much easier from Democrats in Japan (or the past howard dean japan supporters) than from the Republican party.

Interesting choice of words: "regime change" is an overthrow of a regime considered illegitimate, and this is achieved from outside, without co-option or preservation of existing institutions.

In other words, Moore says he thinks the government of Japan is illegitimate and he hopes showing his potty little movie will cause the government and its supporting institutions to collapse and he can take credit.

And the reason you take this person seriously is...?

Honestly, I've been running my mouth way too much on this thread. I apologize for posting so much, but I just wanted to add one last comment. (or two)

It isn't a universal axiom that the US government and its enemies must maintain opposite states in terms of "right" or "wrong". If the U.S. government and media is "wrong", that doesn't mean its enemies are "right". And if the enemy is "wrong", that doesn't mean the US government is automatically "right". What we have on our hands is the worst case scenario. They're both wickedly wrong.

On 9/11, Americans had to suffer the pain and humiliation of a serious foreign attack. After that, we got more pain and humiliation from our own government as the real perpetrator was forgotten. It was the moment of truth; they were supposed to protect us. Furthermore, the movie shows, without very much narration from Moore, that there seems to be good cause to question the Presdent's intellectual abilities.

Just watch. I bet that many years from now, we will find a member of the current administration being interviewed in another documentary or perhaps in the courtroom. And, after blaming somebody else, that person will grudgingly take personal responsibility in that maddening 90's style that says "I'm not responsible, but will accept responsibility." Sort of like, "If you want to blame me, go ahead." We just saw Ken Lay of Enron do it today.

If you read the Japan Today article, you can see that Moore wasn't really saying that he hopes his film will cause regime change in other countries besides the US. There's no direct quote to that effect. He mainly goes off on Japanese and British leaders for going along with the Bush administration.

Chris - you should watch the movie if you get a chance.

I expect F911 will do fairly well here in Japan. Moore's books sell well and BFC had a decent take. As far as "A lot of the stuff in the movie will be new to many Japanese" goes, well yeah, but then again, unfortunately most Japanese who see this movie will probably take it as gospel without making any effort to fact check Moore. Everyone I know here who saw BFC believed the Heston sequences and almost no one could understand that much of it was edited out of context.

I've seen F911. It was everything I expected it to be. Ultimately it did not say anything I did not already know and it will not influence my vote this November.

It might be of interest to note that Michael Moore has started blogging recently.

The thing that strikes me about all this is that Moore has no clue how irrelevant he is to people in Japan... No one is going to care one whit about his movie, except for a chuckle or two...

It had been a while since I saw a film with such sincerity and conviction. That in itself far exceeds any tale associated with Bush.

Most critics of the film (and I read most posted above) don't seem to make much sense to me. Some say that Moore presents his work with an atmosphere of factual omniscience, when the content of some included utterances can neither be verified or totally denied. But I am quite certain that the films of the documantary genre can never be qualified to be the absolute "bottom-line" on any event. And so it may be as sincere as it wants to, but has no obligations to testify.

This film, I thought, presented valid hypothetical observations, consistent with the facts about this current president and his closest associates. Certainly nothing as fabricated, deceptive or insulting as the Bush administration's attempt to fool the entire world into "war for freedom", when in fact this war was a preemptive strike against Iraq. Yeah, I think many a future history teacher will have difficulty trying to teach the kids: "After that fateful day of 9/11, the president focused the nation's morbid anger against Iraq." "Why?," the children will ask, momentarily puzzled by such a logic. Followed by: "Well, it took many years to wrestle that outta him," or something alike. (assuming we do get a version of the story from the horse's mouth)

However, what it would do for Japan, is a surprising question indeed. Either Moore knows little of the Japanese psyche, or he overestimates the "moral call" that some claim is embedded in the film. The American president is powerful. The PM in Japan, however, is even more mysteriously "elected" than the American counterpart, believe it or not.

Well, I wish to see a much more updated, integral and direct democracy before I die... And blogging and commenting is one of the first steps by which we can modify the system that was conjured when TVs didn't exist.

Come on guys. Re-read the article. Moore doesn't have any delusions of grandeur about his influence in Japan. He didn't even say that he hopes to cause regime change there.

It seems to me that the article is tailored to make it appear as if the F911 "phenomenon" has some connection to what's going on in Japan.

Japan Today is a good site, but I always get the feeling that it is written for and by Roppongi regulars. If you had a hangover, you might be inclined to take this article at face value.

I don't know much about Christopher Hitchens, but there have been other critics of Moore's movie that have pointed out problems with the analysis, including Michael Isikoff:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/5335853/site/newsweek/

You say that there hasn't been much news in Japan about the theories on why the US went to war in Iraq. I'm curious - has there been much news there about the UN Oil for Food scandal and theories about why France and Russia opposed the war?

Journalists like Isikoff are beginning to protest to much, if you get my drift. Newsweek has already had to issue apologies for inaccuracies in two of his articles about the film. You can find a rebuttal of Isikoff's opinions here

I read the rebuttal of some of Isikoff's claims, but it doesn't even mention what I found most striking in Isikoff's earlier writings: that the Carlyle Group also had many ties to people in the Clinton administration; and that the one big defense contract cancellation under Bush was a contract with a subsidiary of Carlyle (which the Carlyle people were supposedly furious over). The rebuttal article accuses Isikoff of cherry-picking only certain facts. That may be true, as far as I know, but cherry-picking only certain points may be acceptable in a piece criticizing possible flaws in someone else's work (i.e. perhaps his goal was only to point out the weak points, not to provide a comprehensive review). Moore at the very least is also guilty of cherry-picking only details that further his agenda, while leaving out those that don't fit.

I'm puzzled about the attitude toward the Saudi flights, after commercial aviation was again allowed but before most private flights were approved following 9/11. With all the protests about the people held in Guantanamo, should we have held Bin Laden relatives in the US indefinitely, whether or not the FBI and CIA felt that they needed them, whether or not we believed that they were guilty of anything, even if it meant that they might be killed by vigilantes on US soil? I don't understand all the carping on this particular point. What should we have done - for instance, how long should we have forced them to remain, and should we have locked them up "for their own good"?

Even if, looking back, this was an error (and that's not clear to me), it was a confusing time, and I'm glad that the US didn't have to deal with possible revenge killings of possibly innocent Arabs at an already-difficult time. I know someone who was stuck in Russia on September 11th, and it was a frightening time for people to be stuck in a foreign country, not knowing if the locals would turn hostile. I don't blame Saudis in the US at that time for wanting to get out. Is there any evidence that this was something more sinister than showing compassion to people who had a legitimate reason to be afraid and wanted to go home?

Ann -

To be honest, I think there's only one iron-clad point in Moore's film and that's outlined by the stance he takes against the Iraq war. He does a brilliant job of making a case against it. I think that's the main reason the film is doing so well. And I'm happy about that because I share his views on the war.

Everything else he raises *is* questionable. The Bush-Saudi relationship can realistically be discounted as a mere business relationship. When seven minutes elapsed after Bush heard about the attack, he wasn't thinking the things Moore said he was. I'm glad the Presdient waited a few minutes to respond since I would have been unimpressed if he just jumped from his seat in a flustered manner.

I don't think Moore's editorializing does any harm though. He makes it clear that his film embodies his own "subjective truth". As a citizen, he's allowed to exercise his right to free speech like the rest of us.

i read bush is a convicted theif and a convicted drunk. is this true or more lies from m moore? let me know...

goto http://mystic_lonewolf.tripod.com for moore/bush rock opera free for musicians to record

wow, the pope is a nazi, i bet that fits bush's agenda very well, i knew they loved child molesters but to put an actual nazi in the pope's chair is sickening.

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A quick note on Michael Moore/Fahrenheit 9/11... Yes, it is propaganda (not a dirty word, remember... propaganda is not always a synonym for "lies"...), yes he may present things out of context sometimes, yes he's making alot of noise... But... Read More

アメリカで6月25日から公開されたマイケル・ムーアの「Fahrenheit 9/11」を見る機会があった。なぜか今までのムーアの映画に比べると真面目な作りという印象がある気がするのは、例の「ア... Read More

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