TCS Daily


A Whiff of Anti-Americanism

By Craig Winneker - May 30, 2006 12:00 AM

CANNES, France -- How do you tell when a particular Cannes Film Festival is, say, a tad less glamorous than its predecessors? When the money quote of the week comes from Al Gore.

At a press conference before the screening of his laptop documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, the former Vice President of the United States, sitting up ramrod straight in his traditional black-tie tuxedo, declared, "I would have never imagined in a million years that my slideshow would bring me to the red carpet at Cannes." Not exactly Audrey Hepburn, nor even Audrey Tautou.

To be fair, this year's festival has had more than its share of glitz, glamour and hype -- and perhaps the largest concentration of well-appointed-yet-singularly-shallow people on the planet. Even the infamously rude and unflappable French security guards seem pleasant compared to the festival attendees and the tourists who've come to admire them from afar (very afar). Perhaps, though, it is understandable that people paying $15,000 to rent a studio apartment for 11 days, and then shelling out another $30 every morning for a breakfast buffet, would be a mite testy.

The annual competition for the Palme d'Or prize for best film is only a small part of what draws these folks to the Cote d'Azur, where they can practice talking to French people, mainly by shouting "I don't understand what you're saying!" to bemused ice cream vendors. Most people who've made the trip are struggling independent producers, minor celebrities with a vanity project to sell, has-beens and never-will-bes hoping to rustle up some attention and maybe an international distribution deal for whatever film they have in the can. Or, in most cases, still on the drawing board. Many of the films on display at Cannes exist only as preview reels, or, indeed, as sexy posters and nothing more. They await funding, and sometimes even a cast.

(My favorite was for an animated feature, described as still being "in pre-production", called Donkey Xote. Its Pixar-esque poster included the credit, "Based on an original story by Miguel de Cervantes". I can just picture some movie exec screaming into his Bluetooth earpiece, "Get me this Cervantes guy! Who represents him?")

It would be difficult to discern a theme among the films being shown in competition at this Cannes, or even the ones exhibited in several of the ancillary festival programs. But one does detect a faint whiff of anti-Americanism, which always goes over well in France (and in Hollywood, for that matter) and which peaked two years ago with the Palme d'Or victory of Michael Moore, for Fahrenheit 9/11 and its accompanying 20-minute standing ovation. At this year's first screening, British director Ken Loach explained to anyone who would listen that his tale of the Irish rebellion in the 1920s, The Wind That Shakes the Barley, was aimed directly at the US occupation of Iraq (the movie eventually took top prize). A.O. Scott complained in the New York Times that the Cannes selection also seems to have a "quota for mediocre French and Italian movies." However, Paul Greengrass' United 93 was being featured out of competition, and American phenom Richard Linklater (Slacker, Before Sunrise, School of Rock) has two films at the festival, one in and one out of competition.

Then there were the posters for America: From Freedom to Fascism, a documentary from Aaron Russo. These eye-catching works of art were plastered all over the entrance to the magnificent Hotel Carlton's Bar des Celebrites. At first glance the movie appears to be a left-winger's indictment of the current US government's invasions of privacy in the name of national security. But actually it's a pro-libertarian attack on the US income tax and on private banking, though its confused message also claims that "fascism equals corporatism". What it really should be complaining about is the fact that the Bar des Celebrites charges €6 for a glass of water.

The frontrunners all week long have been fairly non-political: Pedro Almódovar, for his film Volver, starring Penelope Cruz, and Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárritu for his film Babel. I for one am pulling for Sofia Coppola to win, with her punk take on the life of poor little rich girl Marie Antoinette. Not only is Coppola a gifted young director with a Cannes-winning pedigree, but she also managed to elicit angry boos from French critics in the audience at her screening, as well as fun "he-loved-it, she-hated-it" dueling reviews in the New York Times. Plus Kirsten Dunst is way cute.

Linklater's official selection offering, Fast Food Nation, based on the bestselling book by Eric Schlosser (who also co-wrote the screenplay), fills the Moore slot as this year's "Americans are all fat and stupid and their lifestyle is ruining the rest of the world" entry. The movie has a fiction narrative but the book on which it is based is a work of non-fiction. In it Schlosser paints a horrifying picture of American meat-packing practices and even some of its large-scale farming methods. He also makes a strong argument -- though inadvertently -- for improving education funding so that school districts don't have to sell ad space on blackboards to make up budget shortfalls. But the book fails in its overall goal: to convict the American fast-food industry of colluding with the military-industrial complex, a corrupt political system, and unsuspecting teenage rubes in engineering a devious plot to end Life As We Know It -- or at least make everyone in the world fat and unhealthy and, using mind-control, foil forever the attempt to return mankind to its sylvan and organic past.

The film, shown early in the competition, failed to make much of a splash in Cannes. And Linklater, perpetually boyish, was a newbie to the festival and was just too endearingly earnest to get that fired up about his own movie. His self-deprecating charm doesn't play with the international press, which wants everyone to be Costa-Gavras. Linklater gave the usual auteur interviews but by day three of the festival he was already being overshadowed by, of all people, Al Gore. The ex-veep's movie, on global warming, had ignited a sort of environmental theme on the Riviera. Along the oceanfront Croisette, where participating countries had set up tents to show off their movie industries, the American Pavilion was pushing all things green. Its director, Julie Sisk, told the Hollywood Reporter that the pavilion's efforts to "leave less of an ecological footprint" means she's had to "truck all the recyclables to Marseilles, two hours away."

Meanwhile, the McDonald's located directly across the street from the Palais des Festivals, where the movies were being shown, has done brisk business all week.

The author is Europe editor of TCS Daily. This was his first, and probably last, time in Cannes.

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65 Comments

A Whiff of Self Obsession
Since the film in question is about how the wicked British bullied the nice non-threatening IRA freedom fighters it could be argued that this is slightly more anti-British than anti-American & that you have to be a fairly self obsessed naval gasing American to think otherwise.

According to the director
If you believe that to be the case, then it is something you should take up with the film's British director, Ken Loach, not Craig Winneker, the author of this article:

"At this year's first screening, British director Ken Loach explained to anyone who would listen that his tale of the Irish rebellion in the 1920s, The Wind That Shakes the Barley, was aimed directly at the US occupation of Iraq (the movie eventually took top prize)"

Learn to read, please.

No doubt!
Everyone knows that you can't win at Cannes anymore unless you have a decidedly anti-American theme. That is why losers like Loach attempt to paint their pictures in such terms: to appeal to the Cannes judges.

No Subject
You are seriously suggesting that the film is not more anti-Brit than anti-US?

It is an allegory about the US but it is directly anti- Britain.

Dude, chill
Dude, chill.

Not only have people here NOT seen the film in question, it is exceedingly likely that we never will either. I know I certainly will have no desire to see it, if and when it ever makes its way into the local bargain-bin of DVDs, right next to every Michael Moore piece of crap.

People are responding ONLY to the words of the director of the film himself, who has stated plainly that his film is aimed at the U.S. and Iraq.

If you find that objectionable, you should write a letter to the film's director, and not waste time here with people who would probably completely agree that the film is more anti-Brit than anti-U.S., IF we ever were to see it, which we likely will not.

:)

No Subject
In which case a long article about how the poor US is being oppressed by these trendy filmmakers looks a little like self pitying obsession don't you think?

Gosh, that is just so darn threatening
Someone making a film suggesting that the Iraq war may not have been the most successful or competent military adventure in history.

Obviously, all patriots must immediately demand that Ken Loach be kindnapped and taken to an undisclosed third country for directed re-education.

Gosh, that is just so darned stupid
And you say marjon has nothing to add!

What??
Are you dense?

The *DIRECTOR* of the *FILM* is the one running around telling everyone that his film is anti-American!!

Even if it is not true, and that the film is, as you indicate, more anti-Brit than anything, the entire point of the article is that, at Cannes, 'Anti-Americanism Sells', and that apparently some directors are not afraid to tell people that his anti-Brit film is *really* meant as more anti-Americanism than anything else.

Self-pitying obsession?

Let me see if I am guessing correctly here.. you are not yourself an American, are you? What you are doing is called 'projecting' - that is, assigning your own internal issues onto everyone else around you as well. It's very common.

Americans don't have anything to be self-pitying about. Frankly, nobody cares what a bunch of frenchies think. They are the stale leftovers from European history books; completely irrelevant. But the angst that the french feel at their impotence, especially when they have such long memories of when they were a world power, a colonizer, back when they *mattered* - this angst has spread to most of Europe, to one degree or another. Even though the Brits despise the french, and vice versa, they share in their loss of worldwide power, having allowed it to be subverted and degraded over time by leftism and and elitism.

The only obsessive self-pitying is coming from the eastern side of the Atlantic.

Over here, we merely take notice, and comment upon, the extreme arrogance and hubris it takes to to be stuck in a cesspool of political correctness, socialism, economic stagnation and social surrender, and *still* have the audacity to try to look down ones' noses at others.

We comment upon it because it's sad, like watching a train wreck while it's happening.

You merely perceive self-pity because that's apparently how you see the world.

Pity.

The article is stupid
I mean, so Ken Loach thinks that the war in Iraq is a disaster. So his film has references to the situation. So what? Why this cartoony "anti-American" tone. Being against the disasterous foreign policy of a particular failing president is not "anti-americanism."

Your accusing the director of lying?
He's the one who originally said the movie was aimed at America.

Did you even read the article?
The majority of the article was poking fun at the pretentiousness of the festival goers.

Hey
eric says I'm the one with nothing to add.

Missed the point
but I'm not surprised.

The overall theme was the overall anti-Americanism that permiates Cannes. Loach is merely hyping his anti-Americanism in the hopes that his film wins the awards. Is that not sad? What about the artistic merit? Moore's movie was one falsehood after another and it still won. Like the Nobel Peace Prize, the Cannes award deserves to be urinated upon as it now is a mere political prop.

I don't see Bush as being a failed President nor do I see his foreign policy as disastorous. However, I do see applauding films whose only virtue is attacking American government and/or the American people as anti-American.

Again, same jive definiation of "anti-americanism"
Being against the failed foreign policy adventure of a failed president is not "anti-americanism."

>I do see applauding films whose only virtue is attacking American government and/or the American people as anti-American.

first, that is not a "virtue" in a film. Second, a criticism of a specific American government is not "anti-American," -- unless you want to say that criticsm of the Putin government is anti-Russian, or the Beijing government is "anti-Chinese." And what films do you see attacking "the American people?"

Whoops!
Sorry. Give credit where credit is due.

Gulliver says it too
Because you never add anything. Your post here keeps your record at minus 100 percent.

Gulliver is just the latest of eric's many personalities.

Who cares about your opinion about anything?
The only personality you have is as TCS's most pathetic on-line gasbag loser. Who doesn't care about anything except seeing his lame-o signon - "MarkthePencildick" on top of non-sequiturs and fiction. Grow up and shut up.

"Frankly, nobody cares what a bunch of frenchies think"
Presumably, Wesley, Ken Loach did not feel it necessary to explain the anti-British elements of film about Brits killing people since this would be obvious to the meanest intelligence.

Clearly he underestimated.

I think your long pointless & rude reply proves my point.

But then, being British I tend to understate.

eric certainly has strong fascination with other people's genitals
projection maybe?

What about...
the films that just talk about fat, stupid Americans? These films are not merely condemnations of Bush but of America as a whole.

I really wouldn't expect you see a anti-American bias at Cannes when you don't even see the bias in Hollywood or the MSM.

Wow!
It really is Fortunato/Eric isn't it!

Why the need to disguise yourself? Can't you stand up for your positions? Are you embarrassed by your previous, or recent, behaviour? I guess you do possess shame.

Take it on topic
or shut up.

Why not deal iwth the issues
instead of speculating about who is raising them?

mention a title
... and maybe I'll agree with you. But criticizing George Bush mistakes and style is not anti-American .

Was that comment on topic?

your behavior has made you the issue.

No Subject
Fahrenheit 9/11? This is not only poking fun at Bush but at Americans in general. 'Cuz we's so stoopid.

Super Size Me? 'Cuz we's is so fat too.

An Incovenient Truth? We's is so stoopid because we won't jump on the AGW band wagon and destroy our economy over a unproven theory.

Fast Food Nation? Fat and stoopid once again.

Bowling for Columbine? We likes to kill too!

Anymore Eric?

A few...
Bowling for Columbine (Americans are violent), Fahrenheit 9/11 (Americans are stupid for voting Bush), Super Size Me (Americans are fat and stupid), and Fastfood Nation (see Super Size Me).

You probably don't believe anti-Americanism exists but it does. Hell, its how you become the leaders of France and Germany!

Already dealt with it...
now I am just enjoying the show.

A request to stay on topic is always on topic
Please stay on topic or shut up.

Funny: doesn't seem that way to most people
This is bizarre. If you have a movie that criticizes any American or any American institution, it's anti-American.

>Fahrenheit 9/11? This is not only poking fun at Bush but at Americans in general. 'Cuz we's so stoopid.

It gives the background of the Iraq war, including Bush reading a kids book as the World Trade towers burn. That's anti-american?

>Super Size Me? 'Cuz we's is so fat too.
So: criticizing McDonalds as promoting an unhealthy diet is anti-american.

>An Incovenient Truth? We's is so stoopid because we won't jump on the AGW band wagon and destroy our economy over a unproven theory.

I see. The scientists at the American Academy of Sciences, established by Abraham Lincoln, are anti-American

>Fast Food Nation? Fat and stoopid once again.
You mean, American's exploiting Americans is anti-American. I agree.

>Bowling for Columbine? We likes to kill too!
We certainly make it easy to get guns.

But your idea seems to be that all criticism of anything in the U.S. is anti-American-- except when it's something in the U.S. you don't like, and then it's ok.

So I guess you'd think these were anti-American too
Sopranos, Goodfellas, Godfather, etc (America harbors and lionizes criminals) Animal House (Americans students are dumb drunks), Slackers (Young americans are unmotivated and unambitious) Mr. Smith Goes to Washingto (the American senate is reactionary and full of special interest..)

Nope...
because those movies were not made for political statements. They were made for entertainment.

All of the movies I started CLAIM they are documentaries and a critique of America. So put down the strawman Eric.

When did...
Mr. Glassman make Eric a moderator?

Mr. Glassman didn't, eric's mother did.

When did he make you one?
And why can't you post on topic

on topic, please
or shut up.

If you have nothing to say
why not just not say anything?

Documentaries are reporting. That's not a straw man.
>claim they are documetaries and a critique of America

documentaries, sure, but "a critique of America?" They're all critiques things happening in America. That doesn't making them anti-American. You don't seem to realize that prizewining reporting is often something that questions the status quo. You want to say that any criticism of any American status quo is anti-American.

For example:. You can say that Waco: Rules of Engagement is an anti-American film because it questions tactics used by the FBI at the Koresh compound standoff, shows a key American institution, the FBI in a bad light, demonstrates American government intolerance for religious belief, on and on. What's complicated here.:

Furthermore: the subject of this essay is Ken Loach's film, not a documentar
but fiction, and about Brits.

but none of this makes any difference. It's all anti-americanism. Sure.

Here's where you break down, fella
You seem to be trying to use a logical argument here, but you continue to deliberately miss the point.

You're clever, but not clever enough to pull this off, however.

Here's your problem, which you make even more clear with your 'documentaries are reporting' line:

You would have 'assumed as true' a part of your postition which, frankly, is not true at all - the notion that 'if it's in a documentary, it must be true'. Sometimes documentaries contain truth, sometimes they contain partial truth and partial non-truth, and sometimes they are filled to the brim with falsehoods, yet are packaged as truth, for the sole purpose of being deceptive. They are more closely related to editorials than the 'reporting' you claim them to be.

Some of the documentaries you mention may contain mostly truth. Fair enough. However, most of the 'documentaries' being mentioned by others here as 'anti-American' are, at best, misleading, slanted, biased, or ill-informed. At worst (and more likely) they are out-and-out lies.

The problem is, especially with the work of people like Moore or Spurlock, is that anyone with even half a brain knows full well that they are being dishonest and not presenting the truth. They are glibly and cynically packaging fringe ideology as 'truth', both to stroke the fellow-travelers as well as prey upon the gullible.

Now which group there (gullible, or fellow-traveler) do most of the upper-crusties in Cannes inhabit? Would you lump them in with the typical gullible fools of the 'kos' and 'move-on' crowds? Of course not. These people know as well as anyone else that the only 'virtue' of a film like F-9/11 and the like is that they scream in impotent (but cathartic) rage against the current conservative majority in America. (The fact that you claim such films are 'reporting' probably lumps you into the second category.)

Since everyone at Cannes knows already that 'truth' is not what they are expecting when they plop down in front of a screed like F-9/11, and it STILL wins top prize, the only logical conclusion is that the appeal is based solely upon anti-Americanism.

This is not a difficult thing; most people who can think rationally are able to instinctively understand this. It's not like it's a secret that wealthy and intellectual liberal elites, both in Europe and here at home, are overwhelmingly leftist in nature. And leftism is inherently opposed to the traditional values upon which this country was created.

When you claim otherwise, you are doing nothing more than revealing yourself to be just another dim tool of the left, mindlessly repeating the same lies you are told, never realizing that we have become immune to them. Are you really gullible enough to believe that if Bush were suddenly no longer in power that all these people out there who hate America would suddenly love us again?

I have some prime real-estate in Florida you might be interested in ...

This is really pretty thin
Lots of word but the bottom line is no point

I didn't say all documentaries were absolutely and perfectly true. I did say that doing reportage on film (i.e., creating a documentary) that draws conclusions critical of an American government (Fahrenheit 9/11) or an institution (fast food) is not anti-American.

Nothing you have said contests this. All you have done is offered you prejudices. You say:

"Since everyone at Cannes knows already that 'truth' is not what they are expecting when they plop down in front of a screed like F-9/11, and it STILL wins top prize, the only logical conclusion is that the appeal is based solely upon anti-Americanism."

You could say the appeal is based on opposition to Bush policies, but that's not anti-Americanism.

And, Westley, you are not the only person who defines what American values are, and what patriotism is. People who are as patriotic as you are disagree on which are "the traditional values which this country was created." That doesn't make them un-american. It just means they disagree with you.

And here your argument turns into simple hatred:

>When you claim otherwise, you are doing nothing more than revealing yourself to be just another dim tool of the left ... bla bla bla bla bla...Are you really gullible enough to believe that if Bush were suddenly no longer in power that all these people out there who hate America would suddenly love us again?

You might look at what has happened to the graph of the numbers of people in other countries who trust the U.S. during the Bush administration. It's gone through the floor. Of course, that has nothing to do with Bush.

But why look at anything? You've made up your mind.

oh good grief
Oh for Pete's sake, man!

You say:
"I didn't say all documentaries were absolutely and perfectly true. I did say that doing reportage on film (i.e., creating a documentary) that draws conclusions critical of an American government (Fahrenheit 9/11) or an institution (fast food) is not anti-American. "

Are you simply genetically incapable of doing anything other than missing the point? The point is not that these 'documentaries' are 'critical of an American government', as you describe them. There would certainly be nothing wrong with something like that. The thing that is wrong with them is that they have been widely and demonstrably shown to be filled with lies and distortion. No one who has been paying any attention, especially to dreck from Moore, could be unaware that the truth is the last thing one should expect from these 'documentaries'.

So if it is already known that something like F-9/11, or Bowling, is nothing but a festival of lies, what then is YOUR explanation for the wild cheers and 20-minute standing ovations from the cannes crowd?

Just that fact that they are 'critical' of the administration, despite lacking any veracity, would only appeal to those for whom that criticism trumps everything, even the truth. That is not the behavior of rational people, it is the behavior of the unhinged, of people so consumed by hatred that all reason is lost.

And this brit guy sees this, sees 20-minute standing ovations for a fake documentary filled with lies, whose only virtue is virulent hatred of the current administration, and he thinks to himself, 'Hey, if I say *my* film is against the administration too, maybe I will get a 20-minute standing ovation from this crowd.. they seem to eat up anything as long as it has something negative to say about the United States..'

It is the above attitude that is being addressed in the article. The notion that anti-Americanism has almost become a brand all unto itself over there - that the film product doesn't even have to be true, as long as it says negative things about us.

The question I have for you is, what vested interest do you have in insisting that this is not the case? You are clearly wrong when you say that the attitudes of these people is not anti-American, yet you continue to say it. What is it that prevents you from being willing to acknowledge reality?

Is it that you would then be forced to admit the possibility that Mikey Moore does not have his documentaries handed to him by God on stone tablets, and that his lies, of which you are obviously a partaker, may have placed you in the unenviable position of having to admit to being.. *gasp*.. wrong?

Nah, we all know that lefties are never wrong.

You are not America, Wesley, and that is not your personal flag.
You say Moore's film has been shown to be a tissue of lies. Then where are the libel suits?

Yes, interested parties have objected to some things, and some of the facts have been contested. The new term for this kind of political organized attack on inconvenient truth is "swift boating." It happened to Kerry, and it's happening to Moore.

And you're still standing on the same bogus equation of this administation and the U.S.:
" 'Hey, if I say *my* film is against the administration too, maybe I will get a 20-minute standing ovation from this crowd.. they seem to eat up anything as long as it has something negative to say about the United States..'"

>You are clearly wrong when you say that the attitudes of these people is not anti-American, yet you continue to say it. What is it that prevents you from being willing to acknowledge reality?

Reality is not what Wesley declares it is. Sure, some people are in fact anti-American. A vastly larger group is anti-Bush administration. And aying something negative about this administation is not anti-American. Please learn it and get used to it, or, as you put it, "acknowledge reality."

Finally: let's take a worst case scenario and say that you're right: that Michael Moore deliberately lied about the Bush administration. That still does not make him anti-American. It just makes him anti-Bush.

Let's put this one more time. You are not America, Wesley. People criticizing politicians you like are not anti-American. That flag you're wrapping yourself in is not your property. People you disagree with love it as much as you do.

Very good Wesley!
He took you out Eric. But that certainly is not that difficult. Your backpedaling is your signature trademark. Given enough rope you always seem to hang yourself.

>"You say Moore's film has been shown to be a tissue of lies. Then where are the libel suits?"

How about this one? Paste it in and enjoy!

http://today.reuters.com/news/newsarticle.aspx?type=domesticNews&storyid=2006-06-01T170016Z_01_N01324955_RTRUKOC_0_US-LIFE-SOLDIER-MOORE.xml&src=rss&rpc=22

By the way, lying does not automatically allow you to sue. Deliberate misrepresentation of facts, like Moore does, is protected speech when applied to the government.

Here is are a few of the lies:

http://www.davekopel.org/Terror/Fiftysix-Deceits-in-Fahrenheit-911.htm

The rest of your idiotic rant was thoroughly handled by Wesley. The rest is just your hot air Eric.

Sure I do!
You are an idiot!

And I never tire of reminding you of that fact. If it bugs you then quit trying to shut others up.

Excellent retort!
Perhaps you should look at who is trying to silence others.

So: anti-Clinton is anti-American?
Your link doesn't work. But you're still not focusing on the problem. Even if you accept that Moore is not a journalist but a clown deliberately lying about Bush to make money, that does not make Moore anti-American, any more than the numerous clowns who deliberately lied about Clinton were anti-American.

Bush is not America any more or less than Clinton is and was. Yes, he wraps himself in the flag to excuse his failures. That doesn't make criticism of him anti-American. Figure it out and get used to it.

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