Michael Moore, a left-wing political crusader, is an American filmmaker. Known for his thought-provoking and unscripted documentaries, Moore takes risks and asks the questions that everyone wants the answers to. Moore is an amazing political commentator and knows exactly how to use the art of language, film, and facts to persuade his audience and to get them to follow in his lead. Released in 2004, Fahrenheit 9/11 is a documentary directed and produced by Moore. This film is a great example of how Moore uses Aristotle’s three appeals pathos, logos, and ethos to gather information and supporting details to make his point evident. These appeals come together to amplify Moore’s arguments and support his beliefs on politics. Moore uses these appeals to convince his audiences to agree with him on the controversies that, in his opinion, led to the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001. In the film, Fahrenheit 9/11, Michael Moore effectively uses pathos, ethos, and logos as tools to persuade his audience to believe that the Bush’s Administration was corrupt.
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To begin, pathos, meaning to persuade by appealing to what the audience feels and their emotions that are in result of; or in other words, appealing to the audience’s sympathies, laughs, and anger that is felt by each person. Pathos is influence by the writer’s use of rhetoric; meaning, the use of language as a tool to help persuade an audience. This appeal not only grabs an audience’s attention emotionally, it also allows them to identify what the writer is feeling and what his beliefs are. The viewer, identifying with the writer’s take or opinions, is able to use his or her imagination to rationalize what is in front of them and feel even more emotional about the matter. Pathos is very important ingredient to an argument. It is a great attention getter and can really make an argument.
First, in attempt to persuade viewers, Moore does a great job of bringing about an emotional response. Pathos is presented as soon as the screen becomes pitch black and the only sound is the noise from September 11, the day planes were taken over by terrorist and crashed into the twin towers, located in New York City. You can hear the horror in the people’s voices and the loud bang from the planes hitting the buildings. This scene was very powerful; it grabbed my attention and did not let go. Moore intention for this scene was to really start the film off. He also used this scene to persuade his audience into feeling what he felt and see how horrible this event truly was. Also, an interview with a woman who lost her husband during the attack on September 11 was another way that Moore used pathos in Fahrenheit 9/11 to convince his audiences. There was a reason that this interview was shot close up, Moore wanted the viewers to see the sadness in the woman’s eyes, to feel the pain that she had felt, and to show the emptiness she had. By showing the widower’s emotions in this way, Moore opened the door and collected the viewer’s sympathy. However, he still left every scene open-ended for the viewers to collect their own opinion on the attack that occurred on that horrific day.
Another thing to know when presenting one’s opinion is that, in order to have a true argument, a person should demonstrate equality; they should be fair to the other objective view point, and show that there is an understanding of both sides of the argument. This is the second appeal, ethos, a form of persuasion used by Moore to show that he is a fair and knowledge man. Ethos is all about being credible; presenting oneself as a trustworthy person to convince an audience and make an argument applicable; or to show that another person is not credible by using manipulation. When using ethos, the speaker’s character is really revealed and observed by the audience. It is important to have ethos when making a claim or assuring an argument.
In the film, Fahrenheit 9/11, Moore made sure to use ethos so that’s his audience would be persuaded to believe his theories. Moore wanted his audience to see how credible his information was and to let them know that he was a trustworthy person; in this case, he wanted the audience to believe he was more trustworthy than President George W. Bush and his Administration. To show that Moore was a credible source and to question Bush’s character, Moore used real footage of Bush and the events that was touched upon. He showed the footage of the time when Bush was first told about the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001. This footage showed Bush’s reaction; really Bush did not react and instead continued to read to a class that he was visiting that day. This helped manipulate the audience to believe that Bush was not a fit president and had no idea what to do in this situation. Other video that was shown was of Bush in meetings with members of the Bin Laden family. This footage made it apparent that Bush was fraternizing with the so called, “enemy” the ones who were believed to be behind the attack. This makes the audience look at Bush in a very poor light and was a tool used to persuade the audience to judge Bush’s character based on this fact solely. Moore also used this appeal again when he presented facts about President Bush’s National Guard records. Moore showed that Bush’s records were tampered with in the beginning to hide a certain name, James R. Bath, a Texas money manager for the Bin Laden family. Bath was just another involvement that connected Bush to the instances with the Bin Ladens. Moore showed what the original and uncensored records looked like before they had been edited. This showed that Moore was fair, but he was also very trustworthy with the information that he was presenting, unlike Bush who did not present accurate records.
In the final appeal, reasoning is used to persuade an audience; when a person gives a certain level of value to an argument. Facts and statistics help to gather and conclude the reasoning to support the main idea of an argument. Logos is used when explaining a resulting conclusion of a position, view, or argument; it is used to establish the reasoning and good logic that supports the final conclusion.
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Finally, in Moore’s attempt to manipulate and persuade his audiences, Moore uses the appeal logos to show his reasoning and how he has come to think negatively about Bush’s Administration and the event of the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001. Moore’s first valid point made was about the controversy surrounding Bush’s election, and his win over his opponent, Al Gore. Moore believes that the sole reason for Bush’s win was due to his help from his political allies along with the help from his friends and family. Moore first presents that Al Gore was initially said to have been the winner over Florida, but then Fox News reporter, John Ellis, Bush’s first cousin and the main in charge of the decision desk that night, called the election in favor of Bush. Moore then discusses the other reason for why Bush won the election. Moore’s reasons were that Bush’s brother was the former Governor of Florida, the state in questions and the place that the election controversy was at its most heightened. Also, Bush’s chairman of his campaign tabulated the votes and it is a fact that her state hired a company that knocked the votes of African Americans off the record. Moore then touches on the details about the numerous independent investigations that were held and revealed that Gore was the true winner of this election. Stated in the film, Fahrenheit 9/11, “Even if numerous investigations prove that Gore got the most votes, it won’t matter, just as long as all your daddy’s friends on the Supreme Court vote the right way.” It was evident that the Supreme Court, which consisted of friends of Bush’s father, was the true deciders of the winner of this election. One last reason for why Bush became President of Elect was also influenced by the missing senate on the day that the joint session was to verify the election results. Plenty of African Americans attempted to appeal the election results due to overwhelming evidence of misconduct, but no senator was located to sign the objection and come to the aid of the African Americans.
To conclude, Moore’s film, Fahrenheit 9/11, was a thought-provoking documentary that presented an effective argument that was supported by Aristotle’s three appeals pathos, logos, and ethos. Pathos was a very effective tool that Moore used multiple times to really sway his audiences in an attempt to get people to really pay attention to what he was saying. For instance, the emotional response that was drawn from the audience was brought about from the scene of the attack on September 11, 2001 was extremely influential on the audience. Continuing, Moore’s credibility shown through documents and certain facts, along with his laughable manner and tactics used to question Bush’s character, was just another form of appeal that Moore used to support his argument. Also, logical reasoning supported Moore’s point and really helped to move the viewers to make their opinions concerning these political issues. These appeals helped to enhance Moore’s main view point and helped to convince his audiences that Bush’s administration was corrupt.
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