The Norwegian blogger at Secular Blasphemy alerted me to this article in the Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter on Ray Bradbury's reaction to Michael Moore's appropriation of the title of Bradbury's famous novel for Moore's new film. The Secular Blasphemer translates part of the article into English. Here I offer the whole thing to you in my own translation.
"Moore is a shit-boot [asshole]"
Ray Bradbury on the attack against Michael Moore. The title of Michael Moore's new film Fahrenheit 9/11 is taken from the novel Fahrenheit 451. DN's Mârten Blomkvist called up writer Ray Bradbury and asked him if he felt honored. He most definitely did not.
In the past months there has scarcely been a day without some news about Michael Moore's film titled Fahrenheit 9/11.
But one thing we didn't hear about: what does Ray Bradbury think about the matter?
It is after all the title of Bradbury's book Fahrenheit 451 that Moore alluded to when he christened his controversial anti-Bush film.
The 1953 book by Bradbury (who is 84 this year) is set in a future where books are forbidden. Firemen move out to burn up hidden books--Fahrenheit 451 is the temperature at which paper ignites.
Bradbury's book, which was filmed by François Truffaut in 1966, is an American "minor classic". Moore's parallel is clear: the 9/11 attacks are being used today like the flame-throwers of Guy Montag and his colleagues in Bradbury's novel.
So what does Bradbury think?
Michael Moore is a a fatheaded asshole [lit: corked shit-boot], that's what I think of the matter. He stole my title and changed the numbers without ever asking me for permission.
Have you spoken with him?
He is an awful person. An awful person.
Ray Bradbury thinks that Michael Moore can take his Palme d'Or and and shove it somewhere, this much was clear--even if Bradbury would never express himself in quite this way--when DN reached the writer at his home in Los Angeles. The interview went on for eight minutes. As far as Bradbury is concerned, the story of Moore's film begins and ends with the fact that the the director is a thief and a liar. Bradbury is not interested in discussing the possibility of artistic freedom to allude to well-known works.
One might imagine that you would feel some satisfaction that your [novel's] title is so famous that he wanted to use it, allude to it ...
That he wanted to steal it from me, yes.
You see it simply as theft?
People do this all the time. I discover them. I don't want him to do this.
Do you disagree with his view that ... That has nothing to do with this matter. He copied my title, that's what happend. This has nothing to do with political opinions.
Bradbury said that he had tried to discuss the matter with Moore, but that the director had avoided him.
I called his firm. They promised that he would call me the same afternoon, but that didn't happen.
When was that? A few months ago, when his plans for the film first became public.
Nevertheless, the conversation seemed to slip into politics when Bradbury asserted that Moore had ruined Wesley Clark's chances to be the Democratic presidential candidate. Bradbury believes, like several American commentators, that Moore's support for Clark was the kiss of death when Clark did not distance himself from Moore's assertion that President Bush dodged military service.
He slandered the President in front of General Clark, and Clark let him do that. Clark should have said "Don't say that. It isn't true." Clark lost his chance to be President that day.
I see. And you supported General Clark?
No, I support honesty.
According to Bradbury, others have asked him about Moore's re-use of the title, but "I don't want to cause a big uproar about it":
I detest all the paparazzi journalism that happens nowadays. If I could get him to change the title quietly, that would be best.
Do you think that is possible, I mean, the movie is now extremely well-known under this title?
Who cares? No one will see his film, it's as good as dead already. Forget about it, no one cares.
But it won the Palme d'Or at Cannes?
So what? I have won prices at different places and for the most part, they are meaningless. The people there hate us, so they gave him the Palme d'Or. It's a meaningless prize.
At about this point Bradbury considered that he had spoken clearly. Stolen is stolen. Under no circumstances can it be right to exploit a title that someone else invented:
I could write a novel tomorrow called "Gone With the Wind", right? But I woldn't do that, because it would be dishonest.
Nothing more needed to be said about the matter:
Just write that Michael Moore is dishonest and that I don't want to be associated with him in any way. That's sufficient.
Bradbury didn't answer as to whether he planned to take the matter further.