Watch out, Corporate America, Michael Moore has leveled his steely, unwavering gaze in your direction.
Soon, just as the NRA crumbled after Bowling for Columbine was released in 2002; just as George Bush was chased out of the White House when Fahrenheit 9/11 came out in 2004; just as his recommendations on health care reform from Sicko were implemented far and wide in 2007, the people of America are sure to see the evils of you capitalist pigs who run the world from behind the scenes, and burn Wall Street to the ground.
Or will they?
Or, will Michael Moore once again polarize moderates in the debate, demonizing anyone who doesn’t agree with his far-left views, while simultaneously bringing ridicule, by association, to those who believe in those causes?
Michael Moore is a filmmaker. He is not a scholar – he’s not even much of a thinker – or a revolutionary, or a messiah for the poor, weak, oppressed and sick.
A morose-looking, average Joe type who speaks with conviction and passion about all things unjust in his homeland, he is, above all, an entertainer.
Moore uses emotion to make arguments best left to fact, and his manipulative tactics serve only to tarnish the legitimacy of any cause on which he decides to capitalize.
There is nothing worse than arguing with someone about health care, and watching their smirk grow ever wider until you realize, with horror, that you just quoted Sicko.
This style of filmmaking also undermines the entire documentary film industry: directors now face jaded audiences expecting to be entertained and incensed by sensationalized stories, instead of open minds wanting to be informed.
One-sided arguments do not convince anyone but the gullible. In fact, relentlessly attacking a position without giving any concessions to the opposing view leaves the imprudent director, and the cause he champions, dangerously open to attack from all sides following the release of the film.
He only gets two hours to change minds; bloggers, critics, and television personalities have all the time in the world to slowly pick apart his arguments, changing those minds back and leaving their owners feeling deceived and embarrassed.
But for Michael Moore, that doesn’t really matter; he’s made his money, even if the cause is left in the dust. The tragedy is that Michael Moore attaches himself to good causes.
Gun control, corrupt political processes, health care reform and abuses of capitalism are extremely important issues that need to be addressed by Americans.
However, the Moore brand of presenting these issues – rife with sensationalized scenes of confrontation with ordinary people who happen to find themselves opposite him, as well as distorted facts and statistics, quotes taken out of context and jumbled speeches, and the ultimate crowd pleaser, Moore himself narrating in his trademark mournful sarcasm – is in the end counterproductive.
Michael Moore’s films could be a source of positive change. After the release of Bowling for Columbine, for example, Wal-Mart stopped selling ammunition.
Properly presented, without the theatrics, his ideas are good and it’s more than likely that his heart is in the right place.
America needs more left-leaning, loudmouthed leaders who can balance the voices of the Bill O’Reillys and Glenn Becks of the world, but I don’t believe Moore is the right man for the job.
His unfair, unbalanced films and books are not the antidote to their prime-time poison; in fact, by presenting such a skewed version of the issues he tackles, he gives his causes enemies where once they had friends, and makes friends of the enemies shrewd enough to exploit this weakness.