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Rhetoric Meets Reality in New Political Documentaries | Ro Reviews

I made more than one bet on who’d win the last election. Trust me, I wanted to lose. After you watch American Chaos and Fahrenheit 11/9 you’ll have a better idea why I knew I wouldn’t.

I, personally, am in no way surprised by the current jacked-up state of the union (pun intended people).

But then again, I’ve lived in at least one state in every region of the country, met more than a single type of “American,” and held every type of employment from outdoor manual labor, fast food, customer service, call center work, domestic service, to pantyhose-and-heels required corporate positions.

I’ve been a worker bee, a cog-in-a-wheel, shot-caller, and middle management.

It’s September so politics are (again) on my mind. Midterm elections are (to me) even more pivotal than Presidential elections because this is when local, state, and federal legislative shakeups happen.

Enter American Chaos by James D. Stern and Fahrenheit 11/9 from Michael Moore to provide a little context for the political animals, and regular folk, out here trying to adjust to this not-so-new world order.

Politics Aside, We Need To Stop Pretending This Isn’t America

In American Chaos, James Stern travels through several states speaking to people about the issues guiding their vote going into the election for the 45th President of the United States.

This documentary was far more objective than I expected from the outset.

Stern was very clear about his position and political leanings. That very ideology is what set him to wondering how someone could manage to shove the Overton Window so wide open that this Presidential win became an inevitable reality.

Stern puts the very different needs of a vast majority of people on display in their own words. He explores his own (and many progressives) conceit and utter obliviousness to what happens outside city-centers and other more metropolitan areas. He puts an America far too many like to pretend doesn’t exist front and center.

Through a series of interviews and candid discussions, Stern revealed exactly how far a certain segment of the world is willing to go in order to turn back the clock and recapture their better days.

They’re not interested in talk of innovation and new industry because as far as they see things, they have a viable industry just waiting to be restarted.

They’re willing to “overlook” racist and bigoted rhetoric because a candidate is saying the things they want to hear when it comes to protecting their jobs, their homes, and in far too many cases protecting the dominant position for a way of life they have a vested interest in seeing continue.

So many of these people scared the everloving shit out of me with their single-mindedness.

It’s not because they were unrecognizable or how many felt the same (contrary to what political pundits and short-sighted progressives will tell you).

It was the startling uniformity of their anti-progressive sentiment. They shouldn’t ever have been written off as “deplorable” or just a small section of “the base” not if a candidate wanted to win their loyalty.

I knew how deeply out of touch coastal whites were from their middle America brethren before I watched this but seeing the sentiments expressed here, and in a political context, raised a whole other kind of discomfort for me. I won’t lie, I needed a few drinks when it was over.

American Chaos does a superb job of articulating the disconnect in America between citizens, the populous at large and politicians in general.

It’s a must watch, particularly for progressives, because it drives home exactly how much the Democratic Party’s policy of compromise cost its constituents to the point it lost (and will keep losing) votes.

It’s also definitely a must see for people who think hate-rhetoric masquerading as news isn’t reaching far more hearts and minds of the voting viewership than they’d like to believe.

Once you’ve processed the mindset and ignored factors that led to a surprise upset win at the highest level of government and further entrenched hostility along racial, ethnic, and religious lines from sea to shining sea, you’re ready to watch Michael Moore’s latest documentary Fahrenheit 11/9.

Politics Aside, We Need To Stop Pretending That Power Brokers Don’t Set Agendas

In Fahrenheit 11/9, Michael Moore examines the political and social factors that greatly contribute to the current severely divided and unstable political post-election environment.

Michael Moore makes no attempt to hide his bias in Fahrenheit 11/9.

That turns out to be a good thing because by addressing his own prior relationships with the players now holding power at the federal level, it sets a tone of even-handed…ish disclosure of facts and little-known revelations about politicians on both sides of the aisle.

Fahrenheit 11/9 isn’t just about vilifying the current inhabitant of the Oval Office but rather, examining the political maneuvering and back-room machinations that run the electoral machine and set (and control) legislative agendas.

Moore examines the compromises that shifted the focus of the Democratic Party, the crisis in Flint Michigan (and the unacceptable level of trust given to state officials by the then President), exposes how leaders of the DNC and super-delegates interfere with the party nomination process, showcases direct action by survivors of the Parkland school shooting and the teacher’s strike started in West Virginia and features the new faces and voices entering the political arena looking to shake-up the power structure.

I learned more uncomfortable truths about the electoral process, was dismayed watching a water crisis downplayed, and ended up hard-pressed not to flinch as more than one of Moore’s overt comparisons to despotism and tyranny rang a little too true.

This movie still has that Michael Moore bombastic feel and historical references you wish you could write off as bluster but can’t. I would’ve like to see a few other major events (like Puerto Rico) included in his analysis because their relevance to the current socio-political shift in progress remains horribly downplayed on the national stage.

Despite not being completely cohesive, Fahrenheit 11/9 covers a lot of ground without losing the plot.

By expanding the film’s focus beyond just the current White House inhabitant, Moore paints a much more detailed (and objective) picture of the path to this post-election world and the ripple effect it’s having across the country. You’ll learn far more than you expect and be better prepared (and stressed the hell out) to examine policy and politicians for it.

This documentary’s timeline aptly highlights the underhanded in play in American politics without completely beating down hope.

You’ll walk away with more levels to your political understanding, less willingness to accept the status quo [from any candidate], and possibly elevated blood pressure.

People, on all sides of the issues, seriously need to take a step back and ask, how did we get here. Better yet, folks need to stop bullshitting themselves and get serious about voting for informed and qualified representatives with an actual interest in serving their constituents.

Because, if something doesn’t give soon we’ll (regular working class folks) end up buried under a continued avalanche of tone-deaf policy-making and (unconscious) bias-driven dismantling of the regulatory framework that makes the US’s democratic republic and form of governance possible.

If nothing else, both American Chaos and Fahrenheit 11/9 drives home the point that everyone should vote like it matters; we all really know what happens if we don’t.

 



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  1. I hadn’t even heard of American Chaos before now. Now I want to see both of these movies, in the order you suggest. After, possibly, drinking a fifth of vodka beforehand…

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