Ill-served

Obligatory haven’t-seen-the-movie-yet-going-tommorrow-night disclaimer. That said, I think my friend Richard Just flies a bit off the handle with this assertion:

There seems to be a growing sentiment among liberals that Moore is a bad guy, but dammit, he’s our bad guy. I disagree. Liberalism is as badly served by liberal intellectual dishonesty as it is by conservative intellectual dishonesty.

I’m not sure I’d want to be a forthright defender of intellectual dishonesty, but liberalism can’t possibly be as badly served by liberal intellectual dishonesty as it is by conservative intellectual dishonesty. At least it can’t be if we’re talking about effective intellectually dishonest material. And Moore’s film seems to be effective — it’s doing just what a sermon aimed at the choir is supposed to do: firing people up and motivating them to get involved in the process.

I should say more broadly, though, that the folks complaining about the film really sort of seem to be complaining about the fact that it’s a film. I take it for granted that Moore’s argument doesn’t really make sense, but that’s because it’s a movie. When you’re writing, you can lay out an argument where you clearly say what you’re trying to say and then you mount some evidence. A movie, by its very nature, is appealing to people on a sub-rational level by using images and sounds to try and manipulate your emotions. As a result, it’s not very well-suited to high-toned discourse about the leading issues of the day. But that’s just the nature of the beast. Film does have certain political uses, namely as a motivating tool. It’s one thing to hear about what the president did after being told of the second plane, and it’s another thing to see it. Images, sound, film hit you in the gut in a way that text doesn’t. Text, on the other hand, lends itself to making real, credible arguments in a way that film doesn’t.

Now last time I saw text by Moore, Dude, Where’s My Country? it was pretty unimpressive compared to other Bush-bashing books, but that’s why Moore’s really a film-maker.