I’ve been in the habit of watching documentaries lately and I’ve made some observations that I’d thought I’d comment on. I’ve watched quite a number of different kinds including some of Michael Moore’s stuff, Al Gore’s ‘An Inconvenient Truth’, and well as others that have nothing to do with politics at all. This might also shed some interesting light on the upcoming ‘Expelled’ documentary that should be hitting theaters soon.

~ First off, Michael Moore’s style of bombarding the person you’re going to interview unannounced is sloppy at best. It reminds me of a story Doug Wilson liked repeating about how an preacher, while preparing his sermon one week, scribbled in his margin “argument weak, shout here”. Michael Moore’s style of catching someone off guard and then verbally assailing them until they answer some question unprepared. If your documentary is going to be shown to a bunch of people who share your views, then maybe this method will be most effective, but to a broader audience….hmmmmm….no. Now Michael Moore isn’t the only one guilty of making propaganda, he’s just guilty of making crappy propaganda.

~ Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” is funny because there are three carefully timed vignettes that play up the humanity and feelings of Al Gore. I guess the filmmakers thought that Al Gore’s robot with a drawl persona wasn’t good enough.

~ The most effective documentary style I’ve come across is one where you let the folks involved speak for themselves. People with very fancy credentials look good. And those folks who don’t sound shrill when they’re being interviewed are even better. So far the documentary I keep returning to is ‘Why We Fight’. It kept the pathos to a minimum, and had tons of ethos and logos. This brings me to my last comment.

~ While I think it’s neat that some I.D. sympathizers have gone and made themselves a movie, and one that is getting a decent exposure and release, I can’t help but wonder why they chose the style they did. Ben Stein is acting like Michael Moore in Expelled. He’s playing David against an academic Goliath. No doubt that is the idea behind it but frankly that worries me. If we truly believe we have the stronger case as I.D. folks, then why resort to a pathos heavy documentary?

I guess the moral of the story is NOT to watch stuff you want to watch, but watch stuff you need to watch. Watch the documentaries you disagree with as well as the ones you agree with.