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This Divided State

Reported by Deborah - January 30, 2006

Steven Greenstreet's film, This Divided State, takes us back to the anxious and intoxicating time right before the 2004 election when the success and impact of Michael Moore's, Fahrenheit 9/11, infuriated and frightened the Republicans and energized and emboldened Democrats. Greenstreet takes us to Orem, Utah where the raw intensity of political division becomes plainly visible after Michael Moore is invited to speak at the University and Sean Hannity is then also invited to counter Moore.

Greenstreet captures the unbelievable fury unleashed in this Mormon community by the prospect of Moore's appearance. With single camera shots and very little supporting media, he makes his point. The viewer gets an impartial slice of the extreme chaos that takes over this conservative college campus showing the viewer Orem's deep fear of opposing ideas that might threaten their perfectly controlled environment. The excellent editing is seamless making the film flow with a pace that keeps the the viewer engaged and waiting for the next outrageous comment or extreme behavior.

Greenstreet was able to perfectly capture the true essence of Orem, Utah in the opening shots. I could almost smell the cleanliness of everything and everyone and there was an unmistakable sense that Orem was a kind of Disney World reflecting a mythological American ideal. As the film progressed, the darker side of this perfected world emerges making the citizens of Orem seem sadly limited and somewhat delusional.

The segment of the film showing Sean Hannity's appearance was one of the most powerful for me. The sheer ugliness of Hannity's performance was chilling. Despite the fact that I have watched him for News Hounds for almost two years, I was unprepared for the way Hannity worked the audience into a frenzy bringing out their most primitive sides. Hannity taunts the liberals in the audience drawing them out to show themselves with , "Here liberal, liberal. Here liberal", like he was calling a dog. When one guy raises his hand, Hannity and the audience humiliate him freely. Greenstreet manages to find the most hate possessed people in the audience to film so the viewer can really understand what lies beneath the squeaky clean facades. As Hannity's audience gets progressively darker and meaner, I felt repulsed and horrified by his ugly manipulations. This booing and jeering mob with hate filled eyes claimed to be Christians trying to protect their children from the evil they think is embodied in Michael Moore. Yet somehow they are unaware of their own evil that has perculated to the surface with Hannity's help. Their hypocrisy is stunning.

Before the 2006 election everyone should see this film in order to understand the depth of the division in this country. At the end of the film, Greenstreet urges us to unite which is an admirable goal but unlikely to happen for awhile. However, This Divided State, reveals some painful truths about the difficult journey toward healing ahead of us.

You can view a 26 minute preview at the film's website and find out more about screenings and purchases.

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