All the world's a novel: "All the world's a stage," William Shakespeare famously said, "And all the men and women merely players."
At the 2003 Oscars, Michael Moore went the bard one better. "We live in fictitious times," the documentary filmmaker said.
Moore was accepting the "best documentary" prize for his 2002 film, Bowling for Columbine. It was generally believed that he was referring to the presidency of George W. Bush. This interpretation was based on his fuller remarks:
MOORE (3/23/03): I’ve invited my fellow documentary nominees on the stage with us. They are here because they are in solidarity with me because we like nonfiction. We like nonfiction, and we live in fictitious times. We live in the time where we have fictitious election results that elects a fictitious president.Moore continued briefly from there.
We live in a time where we have a man sending us to war for fictitious reasons. Whether it’s the fictition of duct tape or the fictitious [sic] of orange alerts, we are against this war, Mr. Bush!
We've been told that Shakespeare has recently amended his famous remarks. We've heard it said that he's recently been saying this:
All our journalism's a novel. And all the men and women who form it are merely typists of same.If Shakespeare has been saying that, he's guilty of mild overstatement. But it isn't hard to see where he may be getting these new ideas.
As we've noted in recent weeks, press coverage of the "Stanford rape case" has been heavily novelized. Basic facts and basic logic have been rearranged and sanded down to produce a simplified version of events—to produce a simplified story which comes fairly close to the status of fable, or even fairy tale.
That said, our journalism has worked this way for a very long time now. Or do you really believe that Candidate Gore "had a problem with the truth" in 1999 and 2000—a problem which emerged in all the weird statements journalists put in the candidate's mouth?
Is Shakespeare's reported rethinking on target? Is it true that the people we think of as journalists are mainly involved in constructing novelized versions of our most important affairs?
Starting tomorrow, we'll apply this revolutionary theory to this front-page report from last Thursday's New York Times. The report took us back to the water crisis which occurred in Flint, Michigan starting in 2014.
We thought the Times showed very poor judgment with that front-page report—and a major disinterest in facts. Meanwhile, Michael Moore grew up in Flint! Is all the world a novel?
We live in fictitious times, Moore said. Does that hold true, even now, as the Times says we'll always have Flint?