I thought I was alone in noticing that the world-changing, life-altering, box-office-clobbering success of Fahrenheit 9/11 ($83.4 million after three weeks) looks pretty modest by the standards of contemporary Hollywood. So for the first (and I suspect last) time, I'm noting with approval a column by Frank Rich. Though the bulk of the article is taken up with explaining what the massive success of Spiderman Says About Us (I've written plenty of articles like that and I can tell ya: They're all bullshit), his definition of the hype articulates something I knew but hadn't quite put my finger on:
What's most ridiculous is the central question driving the whole show: might a hit documentary swing the November election?
Both political camps seem to be convincing themselves that the answer is yes. Either that, or they are overstating the movie's power to overcompensate for their worst fears. The right is sufficiently panicked about George W. Bush's slippage that it's trashing "Fahrenheit 9/11" to the absurd extreme of likening it to a training film for al Qaeda (according to MoveAmericaForward.org) and a defense brief for Saddam Hussein (Ann Coulter, who else?). The left is so worried about John Kerry's lackluster candidacy that it is overselling the success of "Fahrenheit 9/11" to fill that vacuum, as if Mr. Moore could serve as a surrogate for the vague and charisma-challenged nominee. (That job will now fall, and not a moment too soon, to John Edwards.)
Also today, four soldiers from the Home of the Infantry go to see Moore's movie (reg. req.) and give it eight thumbs down.