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ISSUE 118 VOL 6 PUBLISHED 10/15/2004

Controversy, Moore or less

By John Giannini
Staff Writer

Friday, October 15, 2004

This week, plans to air Michael Moores documentary Fahrenheit 9-11 on a pay-per-view station on Nov. 1 were abandoned due to what the cable company, iN Demand, called valid business and legal concerns.

The movie was to be aired as part of a pre-election special, featuring Moore, along with several other politically vociferous celebrities.

In typical fashion, Moore has started legal action against iN Demand alleging that the company broke its contract due to outside pressure. Moore suggested the involvement of top Republican people caused the cancellation.

It seems little Moore does these days is not controversial, and I am sure this new twist in the saga of his box-office hit, Fahrenheit 9-11, will trigger discussion: Should the film have been aired in the first place? Was the company pressured by political higher-ups? Is Moore a good American?

These questions will no doubt be exhaustively discussed elsewhere and, in keeping with the flavor of election season, will become quite contentious.

But that is not what I would like to discuss. What interests me more is the idea of airing the movie the night before Americans go to the polls  what is its significance?

It is hardly surprising that Moore, whose strong political views are well known, would attempt to sway the voting public.

If I believed, as he does, that America may be doomed if John Kerry is not elected president, I would broadcast my message whenever and wherever I could.

But, according to the Associated Press, Moore was attempting to air his TV special

as close to the election as possible  why? Why not show the movie in advance and add his voice to the debate over who should lead out nation?

One possibility is that by airing his special on the night before Election Day, Moore hoped it would avoid scrutiny. But, considering his record of taking on controversy, this seems unlikely.

To me, it seems much more probable that Moore noticed something about the American people that I myself have come to believe: They are fickle.

It makes sense that, in a political climate where daily polls are used to keep tabs on the voting publics latest whims, statements made closer to the election would be weighted more heavily than those made weeks before.

Moore seems to be playing to this foible of American voters. If they dont remember a statement for long and are easily swayed, the best choice is to be last and loudest to speak to them and, consequently, the one to whom they listen.

Is this view of the voting public justified? To some extent, I think it is: Certain events have large temporary effects on the candidates support.

Take the political conventions, for instance: Even though the conventions dont really tell voters anything they didnt already know (or at least anything they cared to know), they still can cause a spike in polling figures, but this spike only lasts for a few weeks.

Another example is the number of political ads which are appearing in the media all around us. If Americans were not so easily moved then the quantity of advertising would not matter: People would decide on a position and hold it.

But advertising does matter  some voters are swayed simply by the quantity or immediacy of the messages they are given.

Does this fickleness represent a lack of depth on the part of the American people? Are we too indifferent to really decide who should lead us, or too lazy to hold our views for long? Are our memories so short that we change our allegiance from week to week?

The answer to all these questions is partly up to you, as voters  are you voting based on your convictions, or simply on your most recent whim? I cant answer that question. But between now and Nov. 2, you can.

Contributing writer John J. Giannini is a first year from Zumbrota, Minn. He majors in philosophy.

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