[Marxism] Fahrenheit 9/11 and US soldiers

Derek Seidman derekseidman at yahoo.com
Sat Jul 17 12:05:39 MDT 2004


July 16th, 2004 1:43 pm
'Fahrenheit 9/11' Has Recruited Unlikely Audience:
U.S. Soldiers

By SHAILAGH MURRAY / THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
July 12, 2004 

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. -- John Atkins isn't the sort of
person one would expect to find crowding into the
Cameo Theatre here to see Michael Moore's " Fahrenheit
9/11." 

The 26-year-old U.S. Army machine gunner from Fort
Bragg voted for President Bush. A graduate of the
University of Colorado-Boulder, he enlisted last year
"to serve my country" and expects to go to Iraq later
in 2004. 

"That was pretty thought-provoking," Spec. Atkins says
after a showing of Mr. Moore's documentary. "I guess
I'm a little disillusioned. I've got a lot more
questions than answers now." 

Every day since "Fahrenheit 9/11" opened here more
than two weeks ago, military men and women have
swarmed to the 125-seat Cameo. "Everyone thinks the
military is so staunchly Republican," says Staff Sgt.
Brandon Leetch, a military-intelligence specialist who
spent time in Afghanistan. "What this shows," he says,
looking around the theater before the movie, "is that
we're not all the same." 

Although a nearby suburban multiplex has started
screening "Fahrenheit 9/11 ," too, on two screens --
meaning Fayetteville residents have their pick of 10
shows a day -- most of the tens of thousands of troops
living in the area probably won't see the film. But
soldiers and their families make up well over half of
each audience at the Cameo, cinema owner Nasim Keunzel
estimates. 

That surprises Peter Feaver, a political scientist and
military specialist at Duke University in North
Carolina. There is a sense in the military that "the
media is stabbing us in the back as they did during
Vietnam" and Mr. Moore's film would seem "Exhibit A,"
he says. 

Most viewers are coming from Fort Bragg, just up the
road. But often a few Marines from Camp Lejeune, about
two hours away, join them. The night Spec. Atkins
attended, three soldiers arrived from South Carolina
well after the 7:30 show had, as usual, sold out. The
ticket seller set up chairs in an aisle. 

"Fahrenheit 9/11" is a harshly satirical and
controversial portrait of the Bush presidency,
although it has sympathetic scenes of combat soldiers
and their families. Critics say it distorts facts to
make its point. 

It opened in 868 theaters during the week of June 25,
and is showing in more than 2,011 theaters across the
country. The movie opened in the United Kingdom,
Belgium, France and Switzerland last week. 

The U.S. Army and Air Force Exchange Service, which
distributes films at 164 theaters on bases around the
world, is trying to book "Fahrenheit 9/11 ," spokesman
Judd Anstey says. 

"Our policy is that if a film is popular in the U.S.
and we can get our hands on a print, we'll show it,"
he says. 

Currently, all prints are in commercial theaters. He
says it took about a month to get another recent
surprise hit, Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the
Christ." 

Unusual Stop 

The Cameo isn't a usual stop for Fort Bragg soldiers.
Ms. Keunzel and her husband turned a dilapidated
downtown Fayetteville building into a two-screen
theater because they loved foreign and independent
films and were tired of driving to Raleigh to see
them. 

Ms. Keunzel didn't even advertise the opening of
"Fahrenheit 9/11" in the Fort Bragg newspaper. The
film's area distributor told her, "Military people
won't want to see it." 

But the first two scheduled shows sold out so quickly
she added a midnight show. The next day, she added
more screenings, for a total of five a day. They all
sold out, even though the new times were never
published. 

Staff Sgt. Billy Alsobrook, 28, a missile repairman in
a support battalion, drove to the Cameo one afternoon
in his fatigues to get tickets for the evening show so
he could take his wife. 

"I hear they've got a lot of interviews with
soldiers," says Sgt. Alsobrook, whose one-year tour in
Iraq ended in February. He expects to return in
September. 

The Florida native said: "I want to see another point
of view on Bush. It never hurts." 



		
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