(TIME Magazine, 2004) Moore's views seem to be shared by many viewers. At Amazon.com, one viewer says "I saw this film very recently and was stunned. Shocked. Michael Moore's work was thorough, concise, and extraordinary." (Amazon.com, 2005) Not only this, but both domestic mainstream media, and international media of different regimes realized and reported its importance.
However, many analysts point out that Moore's opinion is subjective and prejudiced. An example of this is J. Dewey's 2004 analysis which claims that Moore's documentary violates the truth in more than 50 instances and goes on to say: "Moore knowingly uses some information to support his view, which in context does not lend such support."(Dewey, 2004) Moreover, Moore found it difficult to get publishing companies interested in "Fahrenheit 911" because of its controversial contents. Eventually, due to Moore's perseverance this controversial documentary became both commercially and critically successful. The controversy of both the documentary and the events that it interprets make this a good case study to define the nature of a media event.
In this essay, first I will define the concept of the documentary and then define a media event and explain why the documentary "Fahrenheit 9...
Finally I will examine critiques of the film before concluding.
Defining the Documentary
Generally speaking, every film is a documentary. However, more specifically the documentary is a tangible representation of the world as seen through the eyes of the director. (Nichols, 2001:1) British film director and producer John Grierson was the first to explore the concept of the documentary as a "creative treatment of actuality", in 1926. (Corner, 1996:1) Nowadays the documentary is defined as "any mode of communication which, in addressing an audience, documents events or situations Usually based upon recorded or observable fact, the documentary may aim for objective or propaganda." (Watson, 2000: 96)
The director of the documentary filters information through their own perspective: "creative treatment of actuality" means that a documentary is not necessarily an accurate representation of facts but is simply one person's interpretation of them. In "Fahrenheit 9/11", Michael Moore filtered the events of the September 11 air crash through his own distinct perspective - most prominently, his political beliefs - to shape a photographic record of his thoughts, views, and ideas of this incident and its aftermath.
"Fahrenheit 9/11" as a Media Event
A media event is simply an event that attracts prominent or sustained coverage by news organizations, whether incidentally (as in the case of the 9/11 events) or on purpose (as in the case of Moore's documentary). Moore clearly wanted his film to become a media event - his intention was that as many people as possible see "Fahrenheit 9/11" before the 2004 United States presidential elections. Accordingly, it was intentionally a controversial piece of work, designed to generate discussion and publicity.