Strange events… Michael Moore’s next film Fahrenheit 911 – a documentary exploring the connections between the Bush family and the Saudi royal family – was expected to be distributed by Disney. It was being financed by Mirimax and Disney is contracted to distribute all of their films – unless they have an NC-17 rating. Earlier this week ‘scandal’ broke when Disney officially announced they were not going to distribute the film. Alleged reasons are because Disney gets tax breaks of some sort from the Florida state government (governed by Jeb Bush). Evidently the decision to not distribute was hinted at over a year ago and Mirimax told Moore to continue making the film and they would find other distribution if Disney pulled out. Moore played this up as a surprise even though he knew over a year ago that Disney was mulling over distribution.
I think Moore shot himself in the foot on this one – trying to play off the sudden victim role when it was a possibility all along. Why didn’t he trust the merits of his own film – which will be the second documentary to ever open at the Cannes film (the first was Bowling for Columbine).
I will credit Moore with presenting the business case for liberal books and media and helping to convince publishers that there is an audience for that kind of thought. And yes, I think he’s an inflammatory asshole at times – but at the same time he says things that need to be said. He has all the subtley of a sledgehammer – the topics and facts he explores speak for themselves.
It’s slippery. Moore’s annoucement is about the confirmation of Disney’s decision that he knew might be a possibility over a year ago.
He could have let the statement of Disney speak for itself instead of pouring salt on the wound – the media cosmos would have taken care of the rest. Any other daring distributor would jump at the chance to channel this film, given the success of Bowling and the accolades it received.
Keep in mind that this is not technically censorship since the traditional notion of censorship derives from control of information through state – not corporate power. Now suppressing pictures of dead soldiers – that’d be censorship.
NYTimes OpEd: Disney’s Craven Behavior
Independent: Michael Moore Accused of Publicity Stunt