Attila the Pun
Sunday, August 29, 2004
I preferred the end...

I have opined previously that Moore's F9/11 acts a useful flypaper to bring the crazies out of the woodwork.

As part of our continuing series on the sad decline of the Age newspaper, please look upon, for as long as you can stomach, John Berger's piece today.

Using language that would be at home in an undergraduate essay, or student newspaper, he attempts to explain how important and revolutionary (in all senses of the word) F9/11. What he mostly achieves is to make himself look like a complete prat.

To truly appreciate it's awfulness, you really need to read the whole thing. Try not to do so with mouthful of softdrink however, as fizzy stuff up the nose is most unpleasant. Examples:

The film is trying to make a small contribution towards the changing of world history. It is a work inspired by hope.

Regarding propaganda:

To denigrate this as propaganda is either naive or perverse, forgetting (deliberately?) what the last century taught us.

Propaganda requires a permanent network of communication so that it can systematically stifle reflection with emotive or utopian slogans. Its pace is usually fast. Propaganda invariably serves the long-term interests of some elite.

The reference to the lessons of the last century are what we like to call a 'hitler alert'.

This single maverick movie is often reflectively slow and is not afraid of silence. It appeals to people to think for themselves and make connections. And it identifies with, and pleads for, those who are normally unlistened to.

Berger is credited as being a novelist. Apparently in the world of the novelist, the use of imaginary words like 'unlistened' is acceptable. The Age should be ashamed of itself.

Making a strong case is not the same thing as saturating with propaganda. Fox TV does the latter; Michael Moore the former.

What are the chances that Berger has watched more than 5 minutes of any Fox TV program? It is an unspoken (and occasionally spoken) assumption among a certain set that Fox TV is pure rabid right wing propaganda. To suggest otherwise, or to suggest that it mirrors CNN, invites patronising looks of disdain.

Ever since the Greek tragedies, artists have, from time to time, asked themselves how they might influence political events. It's a tricky question because two very different types of power are involved. Many theories of aesthetics and ethics revolve round this question.

I would hazard a guess that those two sentences could be dropped at random into any piece of writing that Berger has done, and would make just as little sense.

For those living under political tyrannies, art has frequently been a form of hidden resistance, and tyrants habitually look for ways to control art.

Woop-woop! The Bush=Hitler alarm is going off the scale in this one.

The Cannes award and the misjudged attempt to prevent the film being distributed played a significant part in creating the event.

The best lies just never die do they? There was no attempt to prevent distribution of the film. Sure, Disney refused to distribute to movie, but they did not prevent its distribution. Say it 3 times every morning John.

It's simply to remind ourselves that within the realm of the mass media, a breakthrough (a smashing down of the daily wall of lies and half-truths) is bound to be rare.

Aah yes - the crushing of dissent. Thats why it was such a miracle that Berger managed to get this 'article' published in both the Guardian and The Age. Second rate papers for sure, but mass media nonetheless.

The film proposes that the White House and Pentagon were taken over in the first year of the millennium by a gang of thugs so that US power should henceforth serve the global interests of the corporations: a stark scenario that is closer to the truth than most nuanced editorials.

Nuance alert! Berger acts as though this was some amazingly insightful and groundbreaking hypothesis. You could have read this theory on hundreds of moonbat websites and rag newspapers for years prior to Moore jumping on board.

It declares that a political economy that creates colossally increasing wealth surrounded by disastrously increasing poverty,

Another assumption - it is an article of faith that 'the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer'. The proof, if any is ever given, is that the gap between the mega rich and the poor is increasing. But this is a relative measure. Look at what is considered 'poor' nowadays, and compare it to the living standards of the middle class (as far as it existed) at the turn of the last century. What has created this unprecedented growth in prosperity? Among other things, it is the political system that Berger so derides.

It is always the poor who make the most sacrifices, Fahrenheit 9/11 announces quietly during its last minutes. For how much longer?
There is no future for any civilisation anywhere in the world today that ignores this question. And this is why the film was made and became what it became. It's a film that deeply wants America to survive.

Revolution baby!

For those who have enjoyed Berger's article, may i suggest you stop by Amazon and pick up a copy of Berger's book - "Ways of seeing". A reviewer writes:

"John Berger chronicles how oligarchical social structures have been perpetuated in western society via the Western European painting tradition (mostly Renaissance oil paintings of the 1500s-1600s). He briefly tries to deconstruct oligarchical myths (perpetuated via painting) such as "true art can only be appreciated by the elite few" and "women's selfhood/bodies must always be constructed to please the patriarchal version of men's gaze."

Or you could just carve out your eyes with a rusty spoon - its up to you.

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Thank you.
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