Thanks to Michael Moore we can officially say that former No Doubt lead singer and The Voice coach Gwen Stefani — is ultimately responsible for the election of Donald Trump.
The film Fahrenheit 11/9 starts in Philadelphia on November 6th, 2016 and it is the beginning of the end of what the American people are about to face, the emergence of the Trump era in our society. When we see an image of Donald Trump’s face illuminated on the Empire State building shortly after winning the election, we all truly do wonder “what the f*** happened?” According to Moore’s documentary Fahrenheit 11/9 — a clever title which is inverted from his 2004 film about the Bush administration Fahrenheit 9/11 — Moore explains why Trump decided to run for President. And apparently, it began with Gwen Stefani.
Trump was vexed by the fact that Gwen Stefani was making more money on the singing competition show The Voice, than what he made working on NBC’s The Apprentice. He made the campaign announcement as an effort to prove his popularity to NBC. Moore then selects shots of Trump during his early campaign rallies in a voice-over, speaking to the audience as if Trump is thinking aloud and says “I could get used to this. Maybe I’ll run for President.”
And that’s how Donald Trump became the President of the United States of America.
Actually, there’s a little more to this story and Moore tells us every solid detail.
The film transitions to the story of Governor Rick Synder of Michigan and meticulously irons out details about how the Flint water crisis started. In the city of Flint, its main water source was pumped through Lake Huron. One of the largest resources of water in the U.S. However, that all changed when Synder (the former CEO of Gateway with little to no political experience) ran for office and won a seat as governor. He’s a wealthy man with even wealthier cronies who supported his campaign. He decided to change from fresh Lake Huron water to filthy and toxic water from the Flint river. This was a profitable pipeline for Synder and his elected officials (all whom he handpicked by the way) and poisonous to the residents of Flint, Michigan who consist mostly of African-Americans.
In Fahrenheit 11/9, Moore juxtaposes the origin of the Flint water crisis and how lack of governing experience and corporate cronyism with the development of Trump administration. However, it gets worse. Moore’s documentary is not some partisan hack job that fully blames one side over the other. Perhaps Moore has learned lessons from his 2004 documentary that it takes two to tango.
Moore goes in on the Democratic party and it’s not pretty. Frankly, it’s downright ugly. He exposes the primaries between Hilary Rodham Clinton and Bernie Sanders. The party whose leaders like Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi are more centrist than liberal — already had their candidate in mind and it wasn’t Sanders. Although Clinton won the primary, Sanders earned more votes in several states. What filmmaker Michael Moore is trying to illustrate here is how corporations and lobbyists control the votes of Americans and not the people themselves. He implies that the Democratic party themselves had a hand in Trump’s election.
No one is exempt from Moore’s vitriol towards the political process or towards candidates’ allegiances to large financial distributors. This includes President Barack Obama. In one scene, Moore shows the time President Obama flew in to visit the residents of Flint, Michigan after being introduced by Gov Rick Synder and he does something completely unexpected of its residents. He sips from a glass filled with Flint water and proceeds to tell the public it is safe. He anecdotally shares a story about how when you were a kid and you ate chipped paint, implying somehow that we’ve all consumed lead some point in our lives. Moore depicts how Obama too has received money from companies like Goldman Sachs and it appears that capitalism has sewn itself deep in the soil and growth of fascism has now emerged.
The documentary warns us about fascism and Moore intercuts images and archival footage from Nazi party rallies and Hitler speeches with Donald Trump. He even uses some humor by depicting Adolf Hitler speaking with Donald Trump’s voice. As funny as it may appear on celluloid, sadly it is very real. The same violent and dangerous rhetoric that Hitler used to coax his followers and build allegiance to his agenda is exactly the same thing Trump is using today. Moore provides receipts showing propaganda media material from the 1930s from the Nazi party to Trump today using Fox News and other media conglomerates as a tool to deceive the American people.
There’s also a poignant section in the film that brings us back to his work in Bowling For Columbine, where he highlights the lack of regulation on gun control. He features the inspiring students from the Parkland shooting who have been instrumental in making their voices heard — and perhaps uses this as a warning that the younger generation are the ones in fact taking their country back and working to “make America great again”.
Michael Moore may get flack for his documentaries as being nothing more than infotainment and right-wing liberal “hackumentaries”, but Fahrenheit 11/9 does something a bit different. It doesn’t take a side, it takes a stand against the hypocrisy of our democracy. Next to Moore’s Roger and Me — another solid documentary about corporate greed — this film may be some of the best work he’s ever done. It’s a film that will get you thinking and hopefully enough to where you will make a decision to take a stand yourself and vote during midterm season. Moore does a great job of making his documentary timely to that event, and hopefully it will get enough attention to make a difference.
Fahrenheit 11/9 is currently screening at the Toronto International Film Festival and will be released in theaters Sept 21st.
For more of our reviews from TIFF check out the following:
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Jamie Broadnax is the creator of the online community for Black women called Black Girl Nerds. Jamie has appeared on MSNBC's The Melissa Harris-Perry Show and The Grio's Top 100. Her Twitter personality has been recognized by Shonda Rhimes as one of her favorites to follow. She's the primary film critic for BGN and is a member of the Critics Choice Association.