Satirist, stand-up and filmmaker MICHAEL MOORE has taken it on himself to right the wrongs of corporate America. But does he want the job? Wordscamermemmley
he first time I met Michael Moore. it was a beautiful
May day in Cannes. The fifth festival was just about to
get underway and Moore. wandering about on his own. dressed in an oversized sweat-top. jeans and sports jacket and wearing his trademark baseball cap. looked considerably out of place amid the glamour and glitz of the Croisette. More than that. he looked lost.
He shook my hand warmly though. asked what I was doing in Cannes and wished me luck with my time there. I wished him the same with his and with the European premiere of his latest documentary film Bowling/or Columbine. a humorous attack on America‘s gun laws — or rather lack of them —- in light of the shootings at Columbine High School in which 13 people (mostly children) were shot dead.
At that time. I hadn't seen the film and only hoped that the international press would be kind to the man I‘d seen confront America’s corporate greed in his British produced TV shows 'l’l’ .\'uri(m and The Air/ill Truth. And they were. Kind as well as just in awarding Moore the Special Jury Prize and honouring him with a 15 minute standing ovation. the longest the festival has ever seen.
The second time I meet Michael Moore. it’s a distinctly less beautiful day in London at the beginning of November. The London Film Festival has just got underway and Moore arrives at the salubrious penthouse suite of 80. the Strand. to be greeted by a room crammed full of L'K press. He could well be wearing the same clothes he was the last time I saw him and. judging by the length of his hair and his beard. it‘s been a while since he dropped by a barber's shop. Somehow. I dotth he's got the time.
Since May. Moore has gone from being the lonely voice of American dissent — one of the few publicly to speak out against a dubiously elected president. endemic racism and a culture of fear that resulted in I 1.127 gun-related deaths in 2000 — to being an international icon. champion of the people. celebrated modern-day pamphleteer and polemicist.
His book. Stupid White Men (and Other Sorry ILth‘usesjor r/ie Slate of the Nation) has spent months on the best-sellers lists in the [.'S and the UK. the latter being achieved solely on the sale of expensive imports as there was no L'K edition available until this month. He’s broken his own record in the [S for having the most successful documentary film ever with
Bowling For Columbine — he first set the record with his debut. Roger A’- i'l/Ie . And now he's poised to unleash a five- week run of a one-man show at the Roundhouse Theatre. London. in which he aims to say all the things he hasn‘t been able to say so far (and would have done earlier this year on the [idinburgh Fringe had his mother not died unexpectedly. leading him to cancel).
Just to stress how successful Moore has been in getting his searing and satirical message across. the website that he tises to disseminate his musings on mass America (www.miclmelmoorecom). went from receiving 70.000 hits in January of this year to receiving l7 million in September alone.
And yet Michael Moore still seems lost. And out of place.
By his own admission he‘s an uneducated guy —- Moore dropped out of college after his first year of studies because he couldn‘t find a parking place — and therefore sees himself as unqualified to ask the ‘hard questions' he poses to rich Cli()s. militia men and Moses. aka National Rifle Association president Charlton Heston.
“When I watch myself in the film. the most disgusting thing about it is the fact that I’m in it.‘ he says. ‘lt‘s like. what is wrong with journalism in America that it‘s this guy asking the hard questions? This is not the guy it should be. There are people with degrees in journalism. there are people who are paid to do this who are much smarter than I am. If you were to come here from Mars. you‘d be like: "This is the guy'.’ This guy in the ball cap with no education'.’". There is something wrong about this. It should be an embarrassment to the media. I get criticised in the American press about making life miserable for these corporate PR people and I’m thinking: "Why aren‘t you doing your job?“
And so on a daily basis. Michael Moore is asking himself ‘Why incl”. (iiven some of the potentially very dangerous situations he places himself in. in the name of truth and
justice. it's no surprise he asks this question. .\'or is it any
surprise that this outwardly brave and defiant man is shitting bricks every time he enters the danger zone. ‘You know me.‘ he says ‘I absolutely hate going in there. my stomach is in a thousand knots.‘
To illustrate his point he cites an example from Bowling l'in' ('o/mn/u’ne -— the scene where he goes into the home of right—wing extremist James Nichols. brother of Terry Nicholls.
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