well, according to sources you've recommended
Posted to Poetry and Politics
by mot-juste on 2004-07-09 17:41:00
your understanding of what documentary means is a bit at odds with what they propose (Re: 'Documentaries are not "reporting," nor do they have any inherent responsibility to "educate." '):
"Unlike most fiction films, documentaries deal with facts--real people, places, and events rather than invented ones. Documentarists believe that they're not creating a world so much as reporting on the one that already exists."
--Louis Giannetti, Understanding Movies<, 7th ed., 339.
A second assumption centers on the notion of objectivity. Similar to reporters' goals for being impartial, this notion of fairness in representation also colors an audience's judgment of a documentary (Representing Reality 30).
A third assumption is more general -- that the audience wants to learn something (Representing Reality 30).
If "reporting" and "educate" were not implied, how many people would bother to watch; would there be such a hullabaloo about the movie? Of course it's implicit in the very idea that Moore is about to educate the unwashed masses on political matters. And about "essay", well, Moore is not called "an essay-maker", he's a "documentary-maker" rather. There's a suggestion here.