Moore or Less

In 2004, filmmaker Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9-11 generated $119,000,000 in box office revenues. The movie took a close look at the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, with a keen eye focused on the George W. Bush administration’s relationship to that infamous day in U.S. history. Moore has always drawn fire from detractors who accuse him of distorting reality or being a muckraking hack. One critic, a blabbermouth local Chicago radio overnight talk show host went as far as dismissing his movies as likely worse than if made by a room full of monkeys with filmmaking equipment in it. How profound. Never mind that Moore has an Oscar for one of his films, Bowling For Columbine, which shed a bright light on an unflattering characteristic of life in the U.S. of A.: its apparent addiction for guns, guns and more and bigger guns. You know, the kind of gun lover who, as seen and heard in this provocative film defiantly claims you can have my gun when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers. He was also Oscar nominated for Sicko, a close-up, damning, excursion into what is our notoriously profit-over-lives healthcare system in the U.S. Single payer? Not a prayer, after Moore quantifies the amount of money taken from insurance companies by our congressional office holders.

The point here is Michael Moore clearly has enemies who want to dismiss him as a Left Wing propagandist, if not an outright threat to the American way of life. Guns? Healthcare? The 9-11 terror attack’s political, military antecedents? What is this guy’s problem with how things work in the greatest country on Earth? Okay, everyone is entitled to his or her opinion. But personal opinion, ya know, is the same as assholes: everybody has one. At least Moore researches and personally involves his films in getting into the nuts and bolts of cause and effects on major issues that certainly are in need of such effort.

Moore’s most recent film, with an ironically inverse numerical title of Fahrenheit 11-9, was released late in 2018, ahead of the mid-term elections. In it, Moore shows the underbelly of a handful of political outrages, some obvious, some–for my part–very eye-popping. There’s Donald Trump first and foremost, with Moore dissecting his at first laughable candidacy for President, and the still stunning election results that declared him the winner on the morning of November 9, 2016. Sure, by the time “11-9” was released, what had not already been said about this ex-reality TV show host, his decades of wheeling and dealing real estate adventures, his carnival barker approach to self-aggrandizement and inability to ever, ever, admitting failure?

For me, at least, Moore still managed to reveal Trump’s stunning degree of egomaniacal pathology that surfaces in most creepy a manner; in one sequence, he is virtually groping his own grown daughter, Ivanka. On a TV talk show years back he admits that if she wasn’t his daughter, he would want to date her. Icky? These vintage clips of D.T. made me realize his sleaziness toward women, along with his lack of public comportment in such regards, has always been in the wide open. But back then he wasn’t also a candidate for the White House.

But as most everyone now knows, Trump did eventually sell a steaming heap of populist bullshit to a disaffected chunk of working class voters, and with the help of now quite apparent election tampering by foreign agents, and the usual voter suppression in some key “red” states, he took the electoral college and the Oval Office. Moore manages to seemingly capture a Donald Trump who did not think he’d win that election. Yeah, and along with a hundred million or more people who assumed such an openly dubious character couldn’t possibly become President.

Moore does take plenty of shots at Hillary Clinton, too. The most cringe-worthy scene is of some of her campaign rallies where she herself didn’t show up, but a cardboard, life-size cut-out of her stood around as her surrogate. Is it any wonder that she turned off so many people to lose to such a massively unqualified, now almost certainly criminal, opponent?

However, as I sat watching the movie in a near empty screening room, the most repulsively nauseating parts revealed just how cynical and sinister, how racist and remorselessly the governor of Michigan was regarding the Flint River fiasco. How is Rick Snyder not incarcerated for life for what he knowingly did in literally poisoning the people of Flint with tap water from the funky, lead-laden Flint River, rather than the usual flow from Lake Michigan? It was a profit-over-people ploy. Hmm. That phrase seems to fit a lot of what ails the U.S. And actually one needn’t have Michael Moore explain that to anyone at this point. But alas…

Related to that outrageous, cold-hearted neo-con CON that Synder conducted, was another sequence that clearly–irrefutably–shows former President Obama going to Flint, seemingly to address the poisoned water of Flint–with its heavily African -American population–only to sell them out. How so? Moore has footage that in two settings captures Obama FAKING a sip of Flint tap water by putting the glass to his lips but only his lips barely touch the water. He doesn’t take a swallow at all. Slight of lip illusion! He leaves Flint and its lead-poisoned population (many of whom Moore captures expressing disgust with their “brother”) not having proclaimed Snyder and others will be held to account, but implicitly giving cover to Synder!

Well, maybe Moore’s critics will claim he used CGI to stage those non-swallows of Flint tap water, but if you haven’t seen this film, then see it for yourself. And the odds are you didn’t see this movie as it only made a little more than 3 million dollars in box office revenue. That’s a long drop from “9-11” to “11-9”. I suppose even Moore’s supporters felt fatigued with Trump 24/7 for over three years and counting. I, for one, am fatigued by the lap-dog media’s obsession with our now damaged, exposed and embattled Tweeter-in-Chief. But I had a feeling that “11-9” would have something new to say to me, although I consider myself to be quite aware of how our political landscape is strewn with bad actors, acrimony and corrupted elections. But It was the Obama bait-and-switch, however, that left me feeling most alienated about what passes for “leadership” in the present and recent past. Obama! Hope and change. Of course, I admit, Obama is a towering figure of dignity, rectitude and reason compared to our current Orange Glow guy.

Perhaps Michael Moore had no effect whatsoever on the Democrats taking the House in the recent mid-term election. Still, if you watch Fahrenheit 11-9, you should learn some hard truths about our political system, and those within it who may look and sound attractive, but are wearing a mask all along. And I’m not talking about a Guy Fawkes mask, okay? Those films by Moore that critiqued guns, healthcare, 9-11 political intrigues? They’re all still unresolved. How many elections will it take for the American electorate to think for themselves, and get a government that cares about more than power and money? We’re on our way to election 20/20. What candidate can we trust? I have a few I like, but our electoral system needs an overhaul. I just heard yesterday that Hillary is considering a run in 2020. What. The. FUCK?

If the past is prelude to the future, I have my doubts about the 2020 election. We shall see. I’d like to think Moore can live long enough (and me, too) to release a truly “feel good” flick, if not per 2020, maybe by 2028. Maybe we can get a truly representative, responsible government. Right now, such a movie would most certainly be found in the fiction category. Maybe science fiction. As in a film set in another eon, in another universe, another galaxy. No, wait, those flicks usually end up with some savagely alien creature menacing the crew, mauling, maiming and destroying them. Hmmm. Will it be an orange-ish motherfucker?

About jharrin4

mass communication/speech instructor at College of DuPage and Triton College in suburban Chicago. Army veteran of the Viet Nam era.
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3 Responses to Moore or Less

  1. Julie Samuels says:

    Exactly right. I saw Moore’s film and I was not surprised by Obamanations’s behavior. My experience with him when he was supposed to be a community organizer was that he had no time or passion to help people unless they were rich…and powerful….and didn’t need help.


  2. So true that Moore’s film Fahrenheit 11-9 deserves a wider viewership. Through the lens of his craft, the dysfunction of American politics is crystal clear.


  3. Burton Raabe says:

    Also, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy a Greg Palast film is discouraging and scary,

    Liked by 1 person

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