Words will always retain their power. Words offer the means to meaning, and for those who will listen, the enunciation of truth. And the truth is, there is something terribly wrong with this country, isn’t there? Cruelty and injustice, intolerance and oppression. And where once you had the freedom to object, to think and speak as you saw fit, you now have censors and systems of surveillance coercing your conformity and soliciting your submission. How did this happen? Who’s to blame? Well certainly there are those more responsible than others, and they will be held accountable, but again truth be told, if you’re looking for the guilty, you need only look into a mirror. I know why you did it. I know you were afraid. Who wouldn’t be? War, terror, disease. There were a myriad of problems which conspired to corrupt your reason and rob you of your common sense. Fear got the best of you.”

I haven’t seen this since 2012. My roommate watched this every November. That November, Americans re-elected Barack Obama. I still remember the image of him and Michelle with the obvious caption: Four more years.” That feels like a lifetime ago now. 

At the time, I distinctly remember thinking this film’s somewhat muddy modern interpretation of Moore’s work perhaps did Moore a disservice. I wrote the film off as fine and well-made, but lacking in subtlety and substance. 

November 2020 feels like a very different time. Election Day has stretched into Election Week. The United States is torn between fascism and democracy, between hate and tolerance. As a Canadian, I feel blessed to live in the true North strong and free, but also close enough to America to feel the side effects. 

I have American friends whose families are divided, tearing each other to pieces over who they vote for. Almost half the voting members of the country are not only okay with Trump’s behaviour, but vote for it. 

This is a president who separates children from parents, and locks them in cages. A president who refuses to pay his own country’s taxes, but pays what he owes to foreign governments. A president who gives lip service and special treatment to dictators, conspiracy theorists, and those who line his own pockets.

People vote for him out of fear. People vote against him out of fear.  War, terror, disease. There were a myriad of problems which conspired to corrupt their reason and rob them of their common sense. Fear got the best of them.

My wife had never seen this, and given the date and the current political climate, it seemed like an easy choice for tonight’s entertainment. But I didn’t expect to find the film more relevant than ever — certainly more relevant than I remember it being in 2012. A masterpiece of writing and editing, this film is aging like a fine wine. Perhaps it is also a crystal ball into our future.

I expected to roll my eyes, but enjoy the ride. Instead, I am shaken.

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