'Fahrenheit 11/9': The agitpropper beats the national satirist

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A racist, misogynistic, narcissistic idiot is president of the most powerful country in the world. In Fahrenheit 11/9, Michael Moore attempts to answer the key question: “How the fuck did we get here?”

In 2004, Michael Moore won the Golden Palm for the hugely successful Fahrenheit 9/11, a satirical documentary that unmasked President George W. Bush. In many respects, Fahrenheit 11/9 is its sequel. As is often the case in sequels, the villain is ten times worse. This time, Moore – who has a big ego and loves to be the centre of attention – takes up arms against President Donald Trump.

As is often the case in sequels, the cream has been skimmed. Partly because times have changed. All those years ago, Moore was at his zenith and he pretty much had a monopoly on political satire and unpacking controversial cases. Nowadays, he is not nearly as funny or sharp as he used to be and he has been superseded by numerous TV shows that tear into politics (and thus also Trump’s idiocy) on a weekly basis and are both funny and informative. Last Week Tonight with John Oliver takes the cake.

Fahrenheit 11/9 is never boring, but it is hopelessly chaotic, problematically subjective and propagandist, and rarely funny. Moore takes random pot shots but hits very few bullseyes. Trump seems to bring out the worst in him (the agitpropper) rather than the best (the national satirist).

He fascinates us when he sinks his teeth into the water scandal that plagues his hometown of Flint, but not when he goes on a rant of disastrous and hysterical comparisons between Trump and Adolf Hitler. His suggestion that Hillary Clinton cheated the far more left-wing Bernie Sanders out of winning the Democratic primaries is also far too simplistic and largely unsubstantiated.

The prophecies of doom are counterbalanced with hopeful passages about young people who are mobilizing against the gun lobby and teachers who are discovering the power of solidarity. Moore connects the question “How the fuck did we get here?” to the question ‘“How the fuck do we get out?” But the answer is certainly not to lower ourselves to Trump’s level.

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