The military and Fahrenheit 9/11

You know the line. The military loves Bush and the Republican party. They'll turn out 80% for Bush and will spit on that soldier hater Kerry. Forget the cognitive dissonance there for a second--that's the line, and at some point in late 2001, early 2002, it might have even been accurate.

But don't count on it happening this November. The military vote may still favor Bush (why is anyone's guess), but it won't be in droves, and it might be due partly to Michael Moore.

When Fahrenheit 9/11 came out, the claim from the right was that the only people going to see it were true believers, people who were already planning to vote for Kerry previously. The more shrill right-wing pundits warned their minions to stay away from the film, as though the price of admission included the installation of a mind-control device by the DNC. But if it's true that 70% of the people who went to see the film were Kerry supporters, 99% of them were Kerry supporters when they walked out.

One place the film didn't play was on military bases. This article from the notoriously liberal Stars and Stripes noted

In June, when the movie came out in theaters, AAFES, the Army and Air Force Exchange Service, said it was pursuing prints, and that it eschewed politics when choosing movies, basing decisions only on profits and popularity.

“If ‘Fahrenheit 9/11’ proves popular in the private sector and prints are available, the movie will be shown,” AAFES spokesman Judd Anstey said in June.

By the end of July, AAFES said it was trying to get the film for overseas bases but there weren’t enough prints to go around.

But a spokesman for the Fellowship Adventure Group, formed to distribute Moore’s film in conjunction with Lions Gate Films and IFC Films, said it told AAFES in mid-July that prints of “Fahrenheit 9/11” would be available, and that “from that point on, they were unresponsive.”

In August, AAFES said it was not going to show the film. Anstey said then that the movie’s Oct. 5 DVD release didn’t give AAFES enough time to draw sufficient audiences to the theaters.
That hasn't stopped the movie from getting out, however. The DVD was released on the 5th (we pre-ordered our copies from Amazon) and it's been flying out of the rental places on military bases.
But the DVD version of Michael Moore’s cinematic indictment of the current commander-in-chief and his administration came in the doors at the base video store this week — and went right out again.

Employees of the store, operated by Softland Video, said all 22 copies it received Tuesday were checked out that day, and when they came back, they went out again. The movie was available for home viewing last week at most overseas military bases.

Francis Anglada, a retired petty officer first class who now works for Morale, Welfare and Recreation, got the last one in stock on Thursday around 11:30 a.m. He’d been waiting a long time to see it, and said it was a “scandal” that it never showed in base theaters.


“It almost made me want to throw my ID away,” said one petty officer third class who saw the movie while he was home on leave in Florida. “It shows how Bush reacted (when he was told about the 9/11 attacks). He just keeps reading. It shows how he tries to cut the veterans’ benefits. It shows they don’t care about us.”

The sailor’s words, spoken in the Yokosuka video store, got the attention of Petty Officer 2nd Class Mark Dutton. Dutton had just said he didn’t know much about the movie and that he’d rather see “Van Helsing” or “Troy,” also new releases. But after hearing his fellow sailor’s recommendation, Dutton changed his mind.

“I want to see it now. In fact, I might buy it,” Dutton said. “Anything that makes the government look bad, they don’t want us to see.”

Capt. King Dietrich, the base commander, said he’d probably rent it too, even though he expects “parts of it” to irritate him.

Southland Video representative Merion Elliott said no renters so far had offered an opinion on the film, although when she asked one man what he thought, he called it “interesting.”

Elliott said Southland was interested to see how well the movie did as a DVD rental and thought it might be popular because so many on the bases had not seen it.
It seems you can only keep people in the dark for so long, and that's a good thing.

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