Mental Institution Michael

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Pseudo Documentarian Michael Moore recently challenged possible presidential candidate Fred Thompson to a debate. His terse reply seemed to show that he was probably not interested. I am not a huge fan of Michael Moore, though I did like Roger and Me when it came out and I thought he did a good job at making a compelling story and breathing new life into documentaries. Over time, he seemed to move more towards propaganda and telling people what to think instead of drawing their own conclusions. This is certainly not new, nor is he the only one who has done this. Leni Riefenstahl did many of the same things when she made Triumph of the Will.

Before I continue, I am not suggesting that Michael Moore is a Nazi or even like a Nazi. I am suggesting that he is using the documentary format to promote a political and social aganda, much like Triumph of the Will.

I didn't see Fahrenheit 9/11, so I can't comment on that one. I did see Bowling for Columbine and there seemed to be some inconsistencies and problems with facts. It turns out that I was right. There were major problems with trick editing, distortions, and outright lies. I have to give Michael Moore credit. He does a tremendous job of promoting his materials and his image as a regular, working class guy. He makes a good living at what he does and I am not suggesting that he stop. I do think it is unfortunate that his stuff is categorized as non-fiction and that many people seem to watch his material and take it in as completely factual.

I will be interested to see how his new movie Sicko will do and how much it contributes to the national debate on health care. This has been discussed on this blog before and I agree that there is major room for reform and improvements. I just hope that these debates are factually based and intelligent, though I'll admit that I doubt Michael Moore will be able to add to this in a meaningful way. I hope I am wrong.

8 comments:

Colin 9:24 AM  

I think perhaps voting from the rooftops for Oscar Nominations may be in order...

man I'm going to end up on a list in Virginia somewhere...

Smitty 9:29 AM  

It's funny when you look at extremism. Falwell started with decent intent, and even stated early in his career that politics and religion were separate entities (if not for no other reason than politics is secular and immoral). But he soon used his media empire to advance opinion as fact.

I see the same behavior in Moore. He started out with honest intent: to shed light on the plight of the working-class Joe. But now, he uses his own empire to advance his own opinion as fact.

The problem with Farenheit 9-11 is that in it, there are some real facts that have finally come to light in the mainstream media, but there are tons of instances where he has a theory that really dead-ends, but he can edit it in such a way to make it sound much more onerous than a failed conspiracy theory. A prime example, when you ever do get a chance to see it (I have it on DVD if you want to borrow it Friday), is the "incident" in front of the Saudi embassy.

Other than that, it is 2 hours of making W look like a babbling moron. I don't need 2 hours of propaganda to tell me that.

Joel 9:56 AM  

I'll never forget the way he ambushed an obviously infirm Charleton Heston. I have no affinity one way or the other for Heston, but Michael Moore deliberately made a guy who was clearly infirm look like an idiot for the world to see. That really turned by stomach.

Moore comes prepared, engages, disarms, then pummels; all the while presenting himself on camera as the orchestrator of an elaborate joke for our benefit... a wink to his audience to let us know that he's with us, that we're in on all this with him, that it's as much OUR show as it is his.
His movies make me feel like I'm in the crowd that used to gather around the bully at school who would verbally abuse the slow kids to feel superior. We felt bad, but we snickered because it made us feel a little superior too. Only instead of ambushing slow kids, he ambushes people who he's convinced "deserve" it, for various transgressions (perceived or real). The problem is that he comes to the confrontation with an arsenal of preparation; they show up not even knowing that a confrontation is coming, or they're prepared to fight a whole different battle. Then, even when someone holds their own against him, he has the ultimate power of the editing machine... after all, it's HIS movie. This is where he gets away with being double sided: it's OUR movie when he's pummeling someone and winking at us, its HIS movie when the decisions are being made on which "truth" to portray. What he does is as much of a production as anything in Hollywood, but he wants us to believe that what we're seeing came straight from the camera lense.

B Mac,  11:56 AM  

I agree about Michael Moore. I'm not sure exactly what it is about him, but he rubs me the wrong way from time to time. A lot of people enjoy the sound of their own voice a little too much, and I think Moore might fall into that category...

There is one big difference between Moore and the products of Riefenstahl (or Eisenstein from Stalinist Russia, or any number of propaganda producers over the years). Michael Moore is not a part of the "establishment". He is a little guy throwing rocks at the castle. The really dangerous propaganda comes FROM the establishment. When the state is the one throwing rocks down from parapets onto the little guys, people get hurt.

Moore is a buffoon, and a blowhard, but that doesn't mean he can't raise legitimate questions. Even if he sounds like a doofus doing it.

(And before you ask... yes, I am aware that I may be the first person to EVER refer to Michael Moore as "the little guy", except in comparison to Jabba the Hut or Sally Struthers)

steves 2:25 PM  

b mac, you make an important distinction and I certainly didn't mean to say that the similarities were 100%. My biggest problem with him is that his "editing" goes into the realm of making shit up. Many take in what he says as the truth and make decisions based upon this information.

His ambush of Heston was uncalled for. There is no excuse for taking advantage of a man with alzheimers to promote your agenda. I am still unsure why Heston or his people allowed the interview. I would have liked to have seen him interview Wayne Lapierre (Director of the NRA) or Alan Gottlieb (Director of the SAF), but they would have been more difficult. I like Heston. He did a good job in The Omega Man, Soylent Green, and The Planet of the Apes. Essentially, he was the 'honorary' head of the NRA and kind of a figurehead. I doubt that he had much to do with the day to day operations and he had nothing to do with their lobbying arm, the ILA (Institute for Legislative Action).

Michael Moore as the little guy? He has cultivated this image as an average joe, but he hasn't lived this lifestyle since the early 70's. He is as much of a man of the people as Howard Hughes was...and I am talking about the later in life Hughes that wore Kleenex boxes as shoes and only cut his hair and nails once a year.

Smitty 4:03 PM  

Demagogues certainly have the ability to negatively impact a deliberative process. They do more harm than good to the overall political conversational tone in that they lend to a more combative atmosphere.

Moore is such a contributor. His style is more about the "AHA!!!" than it is about having any rational and impactful conversation. There is no solution he offers, only a constant game of gotcha.

Bob 10:49 AM  

Sometimes I think I am the only liberal who hasn't worshipped at the alter of St. Mike.

Honestly, I have never seen any of his movies. I hear Roger and me is good, but I always imagined that as Moore was going after Roger Smith, he was driving around in a Honda.

I am probably all wet, and maybe Moore was right and Smith was an ass. I just figure there is plenty of blame to go around for layoffs at GM.

Otto Man 8:37 PM  

I came here with a point, but that avatar used by steves has destroyed it. I can barely remember my name now.

By the way, no idea Smitty had formed his own A-Team here. Nice to see it.

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