The Overlapping Containment Rhetoric within “Hearts and Minds” and “Fahrenheit 9/11”

The destruction and insecurity following September 11, 2001 promoted a serge of patriotism. Such a result is not the first of its kind, as the Cold War also encouraged, for a time, a unifying patriotism among the American people as well. However, in both  the events of 9/11 and the Cold War, this patriotism was cultivated through the feeling of insecurity in one’s own home. The decimation of 9/11 occurred on American soil, killing thousands of innocent civilians. During the Cold War, there was a constant shadow cast by the atomic bomb within this nuclear age. In both instances, the United States sought to contain this threat, both on the home front and internationally. The Iraq War following 9/11 and the Vietnam War galvanized by the hostile tension of the Cold War both were utilized as means of containment on an international scale. The overlap between the documentary Hearts and Minds made in 1974 and the movie Fahrenheit 9/11 in 2004 represent just how similar both wars were. 

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The Oscar-winning documentary Hearts and Minds was created in 1974 as a plea to end the destruction emergent from the Vietnam War. Vietnam was a proxy war in which the United States supported and funded South Vietnam while the Soviet Union funded Northern Vietnam. One of the arguments behind the war was that if communism were to potentially overflow into countries like Vietnam there would be a domino effect that would eventually instate communism across the globe. In an effort to contain this threat, the United States sent millions of soldiers to show capitalism defeating communism on a publicized battlefield. Not a documentary centralized on this concept of containment, Hearts and Minds instead represented the repercussions of the pursuit of containment, the destruction inflicted upon the people of both Vietnam and America.

The highest grossing documentary of all time, Fahrenheit 96a00d83427428853ef00e54f30c6188833-640wi.jpg/11, directed by Michael Moore in 2004, is very similar in this regard, as it was created in an attempt provide a critical look on the War on Terror. The War on Terror occurred in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, killing approximately 3000 innocent civilians. The goal of the subsequent Invasion of Iraq was to contain and potentially eliminate terrorism across the globe. However, Moore’s documentary represents the repercussions of this containment: the infringement on freedom of speech and the massive amount of American soldier casualties and civilian casualties within the Middle East. Moore states that Hearts and Minds was his inspiration for this documentary, stating that it was “not only the best documentary [he had] ever seen…it may be the best movie ever.” Both Fahrenheit 9/11 and Hearts and Minds represent the antiwar rhetoric of their ages as both containment at home (through manipulation by politicians and news networks) and abroad (through deadly wars) proved ultimately destructive for America. 

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