Fahrenheit 11/9 Parent Guide
If Michael Moore turned down the temperature, Fahrenheit 11/9 might make a more useful contribution to the national discourse.
Parent Movie Review
For three decades, documentary film-maker Michael Moore has burnished his credentials as a leading provocateur of the American left. To date, his films have taken on globalization, gun culture, the George W Bush administration, American health care, and capitalism. In Fahrenheit 11/9, Moore turns his wide-eyed outrage and over-the-top narration on the administration of President Donald J Trump. Taking its name from November 9th, 2016, the date on which Trump’s electoral victory was officially announced, the film asks the question, “How the *%@ did we get here?”
Moore does not provide a coherent answer to that question, although he covers a lot of ground in trying to do so. He begins with his oft-quoted allegation that Donald Trump didn’t really want to be president but launched his campaign solely to gain leverage with NBC in contract negotiations for The Apprentice. Moore then takes a scattershot approach to widely known Trump-related issues: Russian election interference, sexual predation, unsettling father/daughter photos with Ivanka, misogyny, the birther controversy, the electoral college, and the 2018 Helsinki press conference. While a lot of ground is covered, little context or analysis is provided.
After briefly skipping over these familiar controversies, Moore jumps to the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, the 2018 teacher’s strike in West Virginia and the 2018 school shooting in Parkland, Florida. These sections are probably the strongest part of the film and it would have been a better production had they been the whole of it.
Sadly, Moore lowers his credibility as he goes overboard in trying to demonstrate his outrage. While in Michigan filming material on Flint’s toxic water, Moore ostensibly steals a water utility truck and hoses down the governor’s residence with the tainted water. He then goes to Governor Rick Snyder’s office and informs the employees that he is there to conduct a citizen’s arrest of the governor for the deaths of Flint residents.
This over-the-top tone continues when Moore returns his focus to Donald Trump. In a section examining how democracies slide into autocracy, Moore routinely compares Trump to Hitler and in one scene, plays the soundtrack of a Trump speech over a video clip of a Hitler speech. This is inflammatory at best and offensive at worst.
Also upsetting to many viewers will be the excessive levels of profanity in this documentary. I counted over 40 curse words and racial slurs and this should be considered a conservative tally. There are over 20 uses of the sexual expletive and an obscene hand gesture. Other disturbing content includes cellphone footage from within Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School during the shooting showing screaming, terrified students as well as a student lying in a pool of blood. The movie also features cellphone video from multiple locations showing people yelling racial slurs at people of color.
Parents trying to determine whether this movie is suitable for their teens will have to address both their comfort level with the amount of profanity in the film and their tolerance for Michael Moore’s particular style of film-making. Viewers who agree with Moore’s perspective might still be uncomfortable with his sensationalistic style. And other viewers might find his opinions offensive. That being said, democracies are well served when all citizens understand a wide variety of opinions and perspectives. As a wise person once told me, “You can’t consider yourself well informed until you can explain the strengths of your opponent’s position.” It is unfortunate that Moore didn’t receive the same advice. The serious issues he raises in this film deserve reasoned, critical debate and not the hyperbolic tone he often uses. If Michael Moore turned down the temperature, Fahrenheit 11/9 might make a more useful contribution to the national discourse.Directed by Michael Moore. Starring Michael Moore, Donald J. Trump. Running time: 128 minutes. Theatrical release September 21, 2018. Updated December 19, 2018
Watch the trailer for Fahrenheit 11/9
Rating & Content Info
Why is Fahrenheit 11/9 rated R? Fahrenheit 11/9 is rated R by the MPAA for language and some disturbing material/images
Violence: Cell phone video clips of the Parkland school shooting, showing teens screaming and being shot; one body in a pool of blood. Brief cell phone videos showing verbal attacks on non-white people. Military practice attacks on abandoned buildings in Flint, Michigan. Residents received no warning and are frightened. Disturbing images from Nazi Germany, including the rounding up of families and Jews performing slave labor in concentration camps.
Sexual Content: None noted.
Profanity: There is so much profanity in this film that it is possible I undercounted the number of curse words. My count includes: over twenty uses of the sexual expletive and a video clip of an American president making an obscene hand gesture, five moderate curses, five terms of deity, nine scatological terms and at least four racial or sexual slurs.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Images of marijuana in jars. Historical video of people using marijuana. Positive commentary about legalizing marijuana. Occasional depictions of alcohol or smoking.
Page last updated December 19, 2018
Fahrenheit 11/9 Parents' Guide
Michael Moore makes the point that 100 million Americans didn’t vote in 2016. Do you agree with his assessment that people don’t vote because they think the system is broken and their votes don’t matter? Why do you think people don’t vote? What can be done to encourage people to exercise their franchise?
Part of this movie discusses how democracies can devolve into autocracies. Do you think that is a valid worry? What are the warning signs of a decaying democracy? Growing numbers of Americans no longer consider it important to live in a democracy. Why do you think they feel that way? Do you think it is important? What can be done to protect and our democratic institutions?
News About "Fahrenheit 11/9"
Michael Moore also directed Fahrenheit 9/11, that focused Bush Administration and their policies involving Afghanistan and Iraq.