Shame on You, Michael Moore
posted by Matthew on 3/24/03
Just Make It Singular and You Have an Autobiography
Perhaps the most serene irony to be found in Hollywood is that the most phony, disingenuous person in the whole town is the avowed outsider, the self-righteous everyman. It’s impressive to see one man be so heroically ridiculous, a man who manages to be
1. A radical socialist who lives in a palatial New York apartment and sends his daughter to one of the most expensive private schools in the country.
2. A blowhard who pretends to advocate the views of the average American despite holding opinions that the majority of Americans find absurd.
3. A polemicist against President Bush for manufacturing “fictitious elections” who makes fictitious “documentaries,” lies pathologically in his writing and interviews, and actively doctors his past statements to avoid looking silly.
all at once? It’s remarkable that Michael Moore manages to be just as full of shit as his corpulent frame indicates. He’s trulyan inspiration to Don King, Vince McMahon, television psychics, televangelists, and the rest of the world’s assorted hucksters, shysters, conmen, charlatans, posers, attention whores, and dilettantish thinkers.
It’s doubtful that anyone is unfamiliar with Moore after his unearthly acceptance speech at the Oscars, in which Moore, who was bearing an uncanny resemblance to the Penguin as played by Danny Devito, delivered a spittle-flinging parody of dignified, informed dissent, a hysterical tirade bereft of any intelligent commentary whatsoever. It’s not like George W. Bush isn’t a hilariously easy target to begin with or there isn’t actual coherent criticisms of this war, after all. But you wouldn’t gather that from Moore’s farcical demagoguery; all blustery invective and no sober thought.
I’m with Hannah Arendt in advocating the maximum amount of public dialogue on the issues and feel that anyone in a pluralist democratic society with an informed, passionate opinion has not only a right but a duty to share it with his fellow man. The idea that people should withhold their opinions now that the war has started or that anti-war opinions shouldn’t be expressed at certain public events is, to me, asinine and will only lead to intellectual, if not political, totalitarianism. So, I’m not attacking Moore for speaking out against the war or even doing an obnoxiously awful job of it. I’m attacking Moore for having the balls to criticize George W. Bush for fictionalizing the 2000 election and his reasons for the Iraqi war when Moore’s entire career and public persona has been a laundry list of lies, misrepresentations, and fantasy.
Moore is, in short, a documentary filmmaker who makes fictional documentaries. That’s right, fictional documentaries; it’s a pretty well-established genre, with some especially good work done by Dziga Vertov in the Soviet Union and Leni Reifenstahl in Germany. Granted, it might be saying something that they were working under Stalin and Hitler, respectively, but I digress. Moore, from his initial film, Roger and Me, to his most recent, Bowling for Columbine, has repeatedly misrepresented events and chronologies, baldly edited speeches and conversations to produce his desired effect, lied pathologically in his narrations, and, at times, has outright staged scenes for better cinematic effect. Since Bowling for Columbine won an Oscar this year for best documentary, let’s take a quick look at some of his more vagrantly disgraceful documentary techniques with which Moore uses to gleefully piss on the memories of those shot on that day:
Get Ready to Be Appalled
1. There’s a wonderful scene where Moore goes into a bank with an “Open an account, get a free gun” deal, opens an account, and is summarily awarded his new firearm. Sound too absurd to be true? Of course, it was staged. Not only would Moore have had to open up a long-term CD account with a considerable minimum deposit to get the supposedly “free” gun, but there would have been a long waiting period where the bank would have performed background checks both on Moore’s financial history and his legal right to own the gun. Moore, only then, could get his gun, but he still would have had to pick it up at a local gun store, not the bank. None of this is portrayed in the film; Moore simply thought it would be more convenient and cinematic for the bank to have a stockpile of firearms in the back that they hand out indiscriminately, so that’s what he invented.
2. Moore repeatedly attacks the United States in his narration for giving aid money to the Taliban. The unfortunate part was that the $245,000,000 given was administered through the United Nations and non-governmental agencies and, most importantly, consisted of food. Michael Mood is such a dishonest, amoral twit that he would intentionally lie about humanitarian aid to make the US look bad. Wouldn’t a true man of the people, a defender of the downtrodden, give the United States credit for helping the less fortunate instead of exploiting the Afghani people to slander the US?
3. Moore claims that weapons of mass destruction are made by Lockheed Martin in Littleton and that it might have a connection with the Columbine massacre. Far be it from Moore to insult the memory of those slaughtered at Columbine, but the Lockheed Martin plant in Littleton makes rockets for TV satellites. Then again, nukes sounds much cooler, doesn’t it?
4. The murderers at Columbine didn’t go bowling that morning. That report has been discredited for years. But, what the hell, Michael Moore sees no reason to lose out on a cool title for his movie, even if it debases the memory of those slain at Columbine.
5. Moore blatantly doctors a 1988 George Bush campaign ad, inserting a picture and caption of his creation about criminal Willie Horton in such a way as to obviously convince movie-goers that it was in the original.
And all of this is nothing to laugh about. The kids murdered at Columbine deserved better than this, and for Michael Moore to deliver a film in their name that is so ruthlessly dishonest, immoral, and meretricious is a disgrace, an insult. Columbine is nothing more than an ad slogan, a marketing non sequitur entirely divorced from any sense of dignity, empathy, or love for the people that died on that day. Moore took that horrendous massacre and cooked up a way to get his face planted all over movie screens and newspapers, irregardless of the gross dishonor done to the slaughtered. Shame on you, Michael Moore, you money-grubbing, lying, soulless bloat of empty slogans.
A Perfectly Repugnant Face for a Perfectly Repugnant Man
Nonchalant exploitation of murdered teenagers aside, Moore’s film also fails as an intellectual statement. Its views are unsupported (or fallaciously supported), its conclusions either vague or asinine. The reason America has such a massive murder rate isn’t because a lack of gun control or because of urban poverty tied up with a rampant, feverishly competitive and lucrative drug trade or the media or the proliferation of handguns, but rather because Americans are just a really scared group of people. Am I the only one a little underwhelmed, let alone incredulous? He supports his spectacularly dumb idea by comparing the U.S. to Canada, saying basically that Canada has similar statistics in regards to gun ownership and doesn’t have as big of a murder rate. Of course, he claims that the US has 67.4 times the number of gun murders than Canada, which is ludicrous; the American murder rate is actually 3.2 times the Canadian. Considering we’re dealing with Michael Moore, I guess 67.4 times vs. 3.2 times isn’t a big deal, right? He also wilfully ignores the fact that Americans 3.3 times the number of guns per capita than Canada and 7.1 times the number of handguns, more or less because it contradicts his argument.
This is to completely ignore the incredible bravery it took to confront that intellectual giant Charlton Heston, the figurehead president of the N.R.A. who just happens to be rather senile, instead of actually confronting the actual leader, Wayne LaPierre, the man who actually handles the organization’s media appearances, or at least the media appearances that aren’t staged attacks on an unwitting possible Alzheimer patient. Moore wasn’t interested in an intelligent dialogue or the truth; he was interested instead in massaging his ego.
As bad as Moore’s ethics and journalistic skills are in the movies, one cannot really apprehend his monumental incompetence (or is it willful deception?) unless you confront his newest bestselling book, Stupid White Men. According to Moore, the book has been kind of a grassroots success, the populace spontaneously supporting his nonsense. He claimed in an interview with Australian newspaper, Good Weekend, that “There has been a blackout on me since September 11. I've only been on two (American) TV shows, 90 per cent of the papers have not reviewed the book –– yet I've sold more copies than any other non-fiction book in America this year.” Unfortunately, Moore has appeared on, at least, six national television shows promoting the book, and at least twenty-one major national network shows have had features on the book. In fact, Moore may be one of the most actively represented writers in the United States in regards to television publicity. But, at this point in the article, I guess it’s cliche to show that Michael Moore lies. That said, it might be educational to show the true magnitude of his lies.
In Stupid White Men, there is one grotesquerie that better sums up Michael Moore than any of his other crimes against sanity and credibility, a lie so monumental, so preposterous, that it alone should sink the credibility of any supposed “thinker.” I offer this prologue to the following information only because I feel the need to prepare my reader for the mind-blowing scope of Moore’s mendacity.
Michael Moore claims that 5/6th of the U.S. defense budget goes to the development of the Joint Strike Fighter, a space-age fighter jet. Not only is this wrong, it’s so astoundingly absurd that it begs the question of how anyone can trust a person so dumb as to believe the claim in the first place (or so immoral as to intentionally propagate such misformation), let alone publish it internationally. In fact, by my calculations, the Joint Strike Fighter’s budget, which is 250 billion for the entire multi-year plan, represents around 100 billion dollars less than 1/6th of the annual Defense budget from 2001 to 2005 of 1.6 trillion dollars, and that’s assuming that the JSF budget is confined to only those years, which it’s not. In other words, Michael Moore miscalculated by well over 1 TRILLION dollars. This is possibly the most fantastic inaccuracy in the history of well-reviewed journalism; Moore’s off, by the most conservative estimate, by more than the gross national product of India in 1996.
To present one last piece of, admittedly anticlimactic, evidence against Moore, I’ll turn to the internet, where Moore’s homepage (you can guess the URL) is home to the fabulous ravings of a delusional, discredited man. One of the more entertaining rants was published on November 5, 2002, in which Moore railed against the Bush presidency and promised that the coming congressional elections would see the Republicans dramatically defeated, the day forever being known as one of “payback.” After the Republicans near total victory on election day, Moore’s rant curiously disappeared, all traces of it erased from the site. Terribly Nixonian of him, don’t you think?
Moore is the P.T. Barnum of political and social commentary, an embarrassing loudmouth with a penchant for exploiting the murder and penury of his subjects and turning them into a geek show for the furthering of his political agenda and career. He is a blabbering idiot with no intellectual depth, no journalistic integrity, no concern for the truth, and no ethical limits in regards to how far he’ll go in order to cultivate his popularity. He’ll shock you, he might make you laugh, but he is a tumor that adds nothing to the national discourse outside of sensationalism, sophistry, and divisiveness. I only hope that my article has helped the cause of making all Americans recognize him as the pathetic nonentity that he is.
(Thanks to Ben Fritz at Spinsanity.org, Joshua Galun at galun.com, and Dan Lyons of Forbes.com for information used in this piece.)