I didn’t intend for the past couple of days to feature run-on posts on the dangers of postmodernism. But that’s the theme that runs tacitly through my reviews of Fredrick Taylor’s Dresden and Orson Welles’ F For Fake. Both works are illustrations, in their own way, of just how pliable reality is–and just how eager some people are to accept those who manipulate it, if they’re entertaining enough.
Al Sharpton began his career on the national stage with the Tawana Brawley hoax, and built on that fakery to the point where he ran for the presidential nomination in 2003 and early 2004–and was fetted in the last presidential election by both Al Gore and Bill Bradley.
Michael Moore began his career as a filmmaker with a sham documentary on GM and after a sham documentary on a current American president, and as a result, sat next to a former president last year at the Democratic National Convention.
Moore’s ability to manipulate the truth was a key theme in 2004, when both he and and the news media were more than willing to invent, out of whole cloth, entire fictions to first destroy the popularity of, then depose a sitting president. Or surpress reality, if that suited their purpose.
If there’s a conservative documentarian interested in a making a film of last year, might I suggest he call it “M For Fake”–since the letter “M” can stand for Michael Moore, the Media–and meshuggah. As James Lileks said, “The past was more malleable than you had ever expected”. If there wasn’t a Blogosphere around to expose such invention, there wouldn’t have been millions of smiling people with purple fingers in the Middle East this year–and the promise, hopefully, of more to join them.
In a 2002 article, Paul Mirengoff of Power Line looked at some of the reasons why so much cheating has gone on in politics during the last decade. I can only wonder what other “M For Fake” moments flew under the media’s radar during that time.
Update (6/29/05): This post was expanded into an article for The New Partisan; click here to read it.