Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Michael Moore Part 2

I have gotten mixed feedback for calling Michael Moore a douchebag earlier, both in this blog and in conversations with friends and colleagues. I have to confess that this was a bit of a social experiment. My point was supposed to be that propaganda and the people who create it are the enemies of the type of critical thinking and reasonable discourse on which democracies thrive, and frankly I thought I might get a more reasonable response if I started by picking on Michael Moore than if I titled the post something like, "Fox News is Satan".

I was mostly right about the feedback. While I have gotten some agreement from those who tend to disagree with Moore's positions, most people have responded with gentle reminders that the situation may not be quite as simple as perhaps I painted it.

Michael Moore represents to me the worst of what can happen when someone lets their agenda overtake their integrity. But he also brings several things to the table that many of his detractors lack. First, he is an indisputably talented filmmaker. Roger and Me was brilliant, especially for a first time writer/director with very little training. It also exhibited Moore's tendency to push the envelope of documentary film-making convention to maximize emotional effect. His films routinely break viewing records -- set by his earlier films -- for documentaries. My own film credentials include a seven minute vampire movie I made in high school, so I feel entirely qualified to criticize this guy.

Michael Moore also tells stories that need to be told. In what has become essentially a one-party political system*, he dares to question the ultimate supremacy of economic growth as the single driver of our society. (That's a topic for another post.) And what Michael Moore does for a living requires a lot more talent, vision and planning than sitting around calling people names, which seems to be all that the most popular opposition figures seem to have the talent to do.

In the end, I guess it is more fair and balanced for both sides to be telling lies and half-truths, and for us to try to listen to all of them, than to continue to fight fear-mongering with reasoning. But I still don't think it's good for us, and it really aggravates me. I definitely have to stop watching the news.
* The Capitalist party. The two sides are more or less aligned with those who lend money (capitalists) and those who borrow it from them (industry and consumers).

1 comment:

  1. facts still need context, so it's a difficult problem when one is telling a story. how not to opine?

    even Food, Inc - a movie that may have perhaps changed my life (still working through the Pollan books) - had moments of what i consider "unnecessary manipulation".

    the bits about the dead kid, the mother/grandmother fighting through wickets on capitol hill? unnecessary. whenever i feel my eyes welling up during a documentary? my hackles go up with them...