November 11, 2004

Once Moore

Back when I was in college, my professor for one of my first news writing classes had us watch "Roger & Me," a documentary produced by a gentleman named Michael Moore, who I had never heard of until that day.

We watched "Roger & Me," and then we were asked to discuss some of the interviewing and research techniques utilized in the film. Initially, many in the class said that Moore had an agressive interviewing style that they admired. Eventually, however, a voice piped up from the back of the room. . .

"That was the biggest biased piece of crap I think I've ever seen. Why the hell did we just watch that? It went against everything we've learned so far in our textbook, which I paid a lot of good money for."

The comments came from a student who was usually pretty quiet, so it came as a bit of a shock to hear him speak so passionately about anything. But, he got the rest of the class to rethink their previous thinks.

"Now that I think about it, that whole scene with the woman skinning the rabbit didn't make much sense at all," opined another student.

Gradually, most of us came to the conclusion that this Michael Moore fellow probably had his own personal bias and agenda, and that he constructed the movie to fit around that bias and agenda. In other words, we decided that "Roger & Me" was kind of a misleading hatchet job masquerading as serious journalism. We also agreed that, if serious journalists utilized Moore's methods, they'd be doing their audience a disservice. It was a good lesson, really.

And, you know, that opinion of Michael Moore has pretty much stuck with me, although the man, himself, has become increasingly tough to take as he gets older, grayer and fatter.

I watched most of "Bowling For Columbine" when I caught it on cable this summer, and I thought it was largely overly-simplistic drivel, even though it was wrapped in a nicer overall visual package than "Roger & Me."

As for "Fahrenheit 911," well, I've only seen snippets of it here and there, but I've read enough about it to come to the conclusion that it's just a bunch of misleading, and sometimes entirely bullcrap, conclusions drawn from a pool of largely inconsequential "facts." In other words, it's the kind of fake "documentary" I've grown to expect from Moore.

Don't get me wrong. Moore has all the right in the world to craft all the propaganda he wants, and people have all the right in the world to pay good money to see it, should they so decide. They can even join in with Moore in denouncing 51 percent of the American voting population as living in "Jesusland," if that's truly what they want to do.

But, generally speaking, I'm pretty damned tired of Michael Moore. He could go the way of Arafat tomorrow, and I'd probably crack a beer in a small celebration.

Because, if Moore were to die tomorrow, it would save the world from this.

Does anyone really want a sequel to "F/911?" Let me rephrase that: does anyone really want a sequel to "F/911" when the creator, Michael Moore, says something like this:

“Fifty-one percent of the American people lacked information (in this election) and we want to educate and enlighten them,” Moore was quoted in Thursday’s edition of Variety. “They weren’t told the truth. We’re communicators and it’s up to us to start doing it now.”

Got that? That lowly 51 percent majority of Jesusland Americans lacked information and Michael Moore, that lovable old Santa Claus, believes it's his duty to educate and enlighten them in his own special, biased, largely misleading and untruthful little way. I'm sure that message will just sell like hotcakes to everyone who voted for Bush. I'm sure they'll fall all over themselves when Michael Moore shows them the error of their ways.

He's Michael Moore, a COMMUNICATOR, and he's going to show America the truth, or at least his own personal version of the truth. Gosh, I can't wait!

Like Caroline, my co-worker said: "He should just stop."

He should. He really, really should.

Posted by Ryan at November 11, 2004 03:44 PM

My first experience with Moore was watching Bowling for Columbine for a class in college. I watched it and didn't think too deeply about it. I didn't like kids getting shot in schools. I don't like guns (they scare me). I don't like the combination of crazy kooks and guns. Knowing that, the movie was ok in my book...... until I did some actual research on some of what he talked about and the methods that he employed making that film. Oddly enough, I still just don't give a flying fuck about Moore. If people want to listen to him, fine, but I've given up wasting my time on him.

Posted by: Rick at November 11, 2004 04:15 PM

Your initial experience with Roger & Me is interesting, because I too watched this for the first time in college (at Western Mich too which is pretty conservative), and I had the exact opposite feeling of Moore. I remember feeling like he was a crusader for good, although I'd COMPLETELY forgotten about the rabbit scene until I rewatched this for the first time last year. Gross!

After this, I thought Moore was great, he used to be on Poli Incorrect all the time in the early days, and back then he seemed very passionate about what he believed in, rather than just promoting his own name, books, movies etc

I cant stand the motherfucker now, he drives me batty. Ever since the Oscars, I've wanted to wring his neck. However, I still think his movies are done well *overall*. Is he over the top? HELL YES. But, what the hell, someone has to stand up for the left, even if he's a complete nutball.

Posted by: allie at November 11, 2004 09:55 PM

Ryan, I would urge you to watch F9/11, not because I think you'll like it but because I don't believe it fits into the same mold as Columbine or Roger and Me. It is for the most part very respectful of informational that may be coincidental, and states often, "I do not know if these things are connected, but I know it is worth considering." I agree with you that documentary is the wrong word for Moore's works, I would think of them as cinematic editorial. Anywho, watch it then watch Farenhype 9/11. My recollection is that even a few of the "experts" complaining about Moore's piece had yet to see it.

Posted by: e. at November 11, 2004 10:40 PM

allie, initially, after watching Roger & Me, much of the class thought he was a crusader, too. It wasn't until after a little retrospect, and the interjection by the guy in the back of the room, that we started looking at how Moore crafted his work. Given his in-your-face approach to confronting Roger, we all agreed that we, too, probably wouldn't want to speak with him, either. Seriously, would you want to sit down with someone who has a predetermined mindset that you are, in his mind, a greedy, selfish and evil person? I could think of better ways to spend my time.

Moore painted himself as being a crusader out to get at the truth but, stepping back, we eventually reached the concensus that Moore's techniques were more sensationalist and self-serving than actual good journalistic investigation. He was the guy who stands up in a crowded room during a speech and yells "Yeah, but will you stop beating your wife?!!" How do you respond to something like that? Roger picked the best course of action by not responding, and Moore ran with that as "proof."

Don't get me wrong, his tactics obviously have served him well, and made him millions of dollars, but it's still maddening to see so many people hold him up as an authority on anything beyond morbid obesity and questionable personal hygiene.

Posted by: Ryan at November 12, 2004 10:54 AM

well, I've only seen snippets... but I've read enough about it to come to the conclusion...

It amuses me that you use that statement to prop up your denunciation of someone else's bias and agenda. Are you seeing the irony here?

Posted by: Molly at November 12, 2004 11:45 AM

I was aware of the irony when I wrote it, yes. However, when my reading consists of reviewing virtually entire transcripts of the movie online (, well, I think that validates my position somewhat. Besides, Molly, would you have to watch, say, Gigli, before making a critical observation of the movie, or could you pretty much get the gist of it by reading reviews on both sides (provided there were two sides to Gigli reviews, which I doubt)? And it's not as if I spent all my time reading denunciations of the movie, either. I've perused both sides, and I've come to the conclusion that F/911 is more misleading than factual. Will I still watch it when it comes out on cable? Probably. Will that change my viewpoint on the movie? I highly doubt it. Given Moore's history of playing fast and loose with facts in order to better serve his biases and agenda, I'm incredulous, to say the least.

Posted by: Ryan at November 12, 2004 12:30 PM

You know where I stand on Moore, I think he's a ridiculous blowhard who would get alot more of his message across if he got his enormous ego out of the way.

His manipulations in his movies make me want to slap him in the face.

He does impart some useful information but its buried under his preponderous ego and most people can't see it.

I will try to watch the rest of 9/11 maybe over the weekend but it wasn't happening earlier this week. My wounds were too fresh and the movie was just dripping lemon juice and bleach into them.

I will research where his "facts" diverge from reality though.

Posted by: Johnny Huh? at November 12, 2004 01:18 PM

Johnny, let us know when you do, since Moore himself offered a $15K prize to whoever could first find concrete proof that he "lied" in F-9/11.

I'm finding Moore and Moore (heh) folks who have never seen or read anything by MM, but despise him based on hearsay and their own personal identity as a conservative. These people do not waste nearly as much time denouncing O'Reilly, Limbaugh, Coulter, or any of Moore's counterparts on the right. Sure, when pushed they might say, "Oh, I don't like them either..." but they never actually initiate a conversation about Limbaugh's failings, or go into a hissyfit when someone mentiones one of O'Reilly's books.

Posted by: David Grenier at November 14, 2004 03:16 PM

"allie, initially, after watching Roger & Me, much of the class thought he was a crusader, too. It wasn't until after a little retrospect, and the interjection by the guy in the back of the room, that we started looking at how Moore crafted his work. "

I can dig on that. Its always great to hear a different viewpoint, whether you're in agreement or not.

Posted by: allie at November 15, 2004 03:23 PM
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