My Long Term Loathing for michael moore
I have made mention in previous posts over the past several months of my long term loathing of michael moore. I think the time has come to explain myself. Please bear with me, this is about as autobiographical as I care to get.
Before your left knee starts jerking, let me assure you that this has nothing what-so-ever to do with Fahrenheit 9/11. I was done with michael moore long before F9/11 and his shenanigans during the recent election campaign. Long before our Country at large even knew about moore; before he was Hollywood’s darling and directly quoted by Osama bin Laden, I was finished with him and had dismissed him out of hand.
Our narrative takes us back well over twenty years, to the early 1980’s. The summer of 1982 to be specific. I was 19 years old, a few months shy of my twentieth birthday and circumstance found me attending the Flint, Michigan campus of the University of Michigan. You couldn’t swing a bookbag in the University Center without disturbing a copy of The Flint Voice, moore’s “alternative” newspaper.
I had heard of moore prior to then; I had caught him several times on the radio (WWCK 105.5FM in Flint); he had a talk show slot on those Sunday slack times on FM radio that in later years were occupied by the likes of Dr. Ruth Westheimer where he waxed eloquently about matters that were quite over my head at the time. What I remember of his radio days was the anti-establishment tone, the irreverence and his parodies of the local Flint, Michigan media ads.
So, sitting in the Student Union at UM-F in the sunny summer of 1982, I picked up a copy of The Flint Voice and started reading. It was the typical stuff of alternative papers: the Man (Ronald Wilson Reagan, at the time) was trying to keep you down, we’re all being persecuted, war is always wrong, pot should be legal, union good / big business bad, etc. Man, did I ever eat it up with a spoon; it was the kind of shit that a college freshman just accepts because it’s in print.
I was hooked.Even though it was free for the taking in the Student Union and at almost every liquor / grocery / drug store and gas station in Genesee County; I subscribed. Wrote a check and put it in the mail. Home delivery for me, thank you very much.
I was “on board” completely. Hell, I voted for Carter in my first Presidential election, and in retrospect I was still reeling from being disenfranchised by having the “other” side win. After all, that evil President Reagan was going to send me and my peers to the wharves and streets of Gdansk, Poland for the coin toss for World War III, didn’t you just know? So I kept on believing. Kept on believing my parents, moore, and all the Reagan bashing that the media was engaging in at the time. (Note: the bashing of GWB by the MSM was not unprecedented, Reagan took an enormous amount of crap from the MSM, as anyone over 40 should remember. What is unique about the treatment of GWB is the sheer magnitude of the vitriol and hatred.)
Then somewhere between the sunny summer of 1982 and the election season of 1984, something happened to me.I can not honestly say what it was that turned me in the right direction. It likely was a combination of factors: finally realizing that my parents were so full of shit that their eyes were brown, starting to think critically for my own damn self, seeing through the smokescreen that the MSM was fervently promoting. Whatever. It was any of these factors or any of a hundred others. Maybe I was a Reagan Democrat, or maybe I had finally woke up and smelt the coffee.
I was still reading michael moore’s paper in those days. I can’t honestly say that I was still a paying subscriber, but I was still picking up and reading a copy anywhere I found it. Funny, but by the election season of 1984, moore’s alt.news paper (which somewhere around that time had morphed from The Flint Voice to The Michigan Voice) had started to resemble the local “Weekly Shopper” that mysteriously showed up in the mailbox once a week, except the “Weekly Shopper” wasn’t laden with advertisements for NORML, the UAW / IBEW, head shops, tattoo parlors, and drunk driving defense attorneys.
While I’m not quite sure where I turned, I can say almost definitively where I broke faith with michael moore. Three words: Roger and Me.
Roger and Me. The film that put moore on the national map. His “break out” piece of work. But the mere premise on which he based his work was flawed.
Roger and Me was moore’s rage piece against General Motors in general and (then GM Chairman) Roger Smith in specific. You see, the evil GM Board of Directors had decided to close the Buick City facility of plants in Flint, Michigan and because of their evil and self-serving decision, you could stand on Saginaw Street in downtown Flint and literally watch the merchants go out of business in real time.
You see, in michael moore’s world, the sole purpose of any business is to provide jobs for the proletariat good union workers. In his world, it is General Motors’ moral obligation to provide employment for the masses in general and the people of Flint in specific above all other concerns or interests.
“I’ll take ‘Completely Fcuking Wrong’ for $1000, Alex”. GM’s Board (as well as the Board of any publicly traded company) has a moral obligation, indeed. Their obligation is to provide a return on investment for their shareholders. That is their mandate; their reason for being.
Contrary to michael moore’s way of thinking, if tomorrow morning the Board of Directors of GM were presented a plan by which they could reduce their workforce by 99.8% and still maintain or improve upon their current levels of cash flow, profitability, and return on investment it would literally be criminal for them to not exercise the option. That’s the responsibility of any Board of Directors, to act in a fashion that best serves the interests of the shareholders. Period.
(Note: yes, I know, I know; an employer the size of GM reducing force on that magnitude would siht-can the entire US and the global economy. Spare me. I managed to stay awake just enough in all my Economics classes to be cognizant of that fact and get a Minor in the subject. Yes, yes: “As GM goes, so goes the Nation”. Please accept the figurative point and let the literal point serve as illustration.)
So Roger and Me was flawed in premise. To moore’s credit, the film was promoted well. Reserving a seat in each and every theater for Roger Smith, the life-size cardboard cut-outs of Mr.Smith in each theater; all very well played. But the underlying premise was still flawed.
I’m no expert on moore’s films. I think there was a follow-up crocumentary to Roger and Me, but I’m not really sure and I’m already wasting enough hours of my life reliving this history to devote any time to researching it properly. As I’ve said in the past: “Do your own Google search, dammit”.
Then moore really kicked it up a notch with Bowling for Columbine. A film set out to illustrate that the prevalence of guns in our society is the reason for the violence in our society. If I may politely offer an opinion counter to the assertion of Mr.moore, and I say so most succinctly: BULLSHIT! Blaming the tragedy at Columbine on the existence of guns is the equivalent of blaming the existence of spoons for rosie o’donnell being fat. After all, if no one had a spoon, no one could snarf down a quart of Haagen-Daas whilst waiting for dinner to be served.
The distortion of facts by moore became readily apparent in Bowling for Columbine, at least to those of us not in the choir he was preaching to. The scene where he opens a bank account and is handed a rifle then he charges out the door of the bank into the street holding the rifle over his head in triumph? Completely staged. Yes, the bank did have an “open an account / get a rifle” promotion, but what you didn’t see was that the bank didn’t actually hand out the guns, they gave out a “gift certificate” for a rifle, redeemable at the gun shop down the street. But the facts never stopped michael moore. He filmed the whole scene on a Sunday morning, when the bank was closed as well as the entire downtown. Everyone seen on camera in those scenes were paid extras.
But what’s the difference, anyway? moore was out there bashing away at one of the lefts’ core issues: “guns are bad, m’kay?”. Hollywood didn’t give a tinkers’ damn about the unemployment rate in Flint, Michigan, but start pointing out how stupid the redneck gun nuts are gains moore instant golden boy status. Then enter GWB, and moore was all over him like white on rice. You know the rest, no need to recount the past four years.
So my dismissal of michael moore has nothing to do with Fahrenheit 9/11. Far from it. In my world, all of moore’s works have been based upon false premises, as evidenced by Roger and Me and Bowling for Columbine. Given his track record, why would anyone lend any credence to anything moore has done or has stood for?
Oh, and BTW, moore is actually from Davison, Michigan, just east of Flint, not from Flint proper. Yes, I’m splitting hairs. Getting hardline on this little point would be like denying the people of Bellaire, Texas the right to say that they live in Houston, and that just wouldn’t be right.