Zen Bastard (jimbojones) wrote,
Zen Bastard

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from the comments, regarding Fahrenheit 9/11

05:24 am - Michael Moore
More of a question than a comment:

I have NOT seen the film. Hence the question: does it show two sides to each aspect of the film? (e.g.: if a soldier bashes his CO in one scene, does another soldier praise him in the next?) If it doesn't, then let's call it what it is: propaganda.
Propaganda is a type of communication designed to inculcate a certain set of values in the target without regard to educating or informing him - or even deliberately in opposition to informing or educating him. The War on Drugs is an excellent example of this type of communication; cf. Reefer Madness for a particularly specific example. See also FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt) tactics.

Neutral reporting is another type of communication. The goal behind neutral reporting is to attempt to completely disregard the reporter's (and his editor's) own thoughts concerning an issue, reporting both sides equally as though each were equally valid. While an admirable goal, it's well worth noting that truly neutral reporting is an EXTREMELY difficult task, and that simply because a report is touted as, or even appears to be, "neutral" in no way invalidates the recipient's obligation to check its neutrality carefully. The natural tendency is to think of neutral reporting as a single repository of trustworthy information concerning both sides of an issue, but in fact it's better to think of it as a single repository of untrustworthy information about both sides of an issue - you can absolutely guarantee that the reporter (and editor) responsible has a bias, but you don't know for which side, whether they're honestly attempting to censor it or simply to subtly camouflage it, or whether or not they actually succeeded in doing so if they did attempt to censor their own bias.

Finally, we come to op-ed. Opinionated Editorial makes no bones about which side of a debate it is coming down on, but makes every possible effort to show the recipient how and why it got there. The primary goal is to educate and inform the recipient, but without pretense at neutrality - the assumption is that the recipient can (and will) do their own research concerning "the other side" for themselves. While an op-ed piece generally fails to inform you as to the other side of an issue and/or cannot be trusted regarding the other side, it does at least have the virtue of having the reporting and editorial staff's bias right out there in the open where you can inspect it.

Fahrenheit 9/11 is an op-ed piece, and a damned good one. There is no doubt that Michael Moore has an opinion of the Bush administration, about how it came to power, about its extremely dubious ties to the House of Saud and the Bin Laden family, and about how it has operated since coming to power. But it's very, very difficult to leave the theater not knowing more - a lot more - about the above topics than you knew going in, and Moore makes some compelling arguments. I definitely wouldn't label the film "propaganda".
Tags: philosophical, political

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