One of my favorite films of all time is Roger & Me, a documentary about the damage done to a small town (Flint, Michigan) when GM decided to close down their plant there, which made up the majority of the city’s economy. GM’s CEO Roger Smith decided to move the plant to Mexico, where labor is cheaper. Moore goes back and forth between witnessing the town go into decline and the “gimmick” of the film – he persues Roger Smith to ask him to come to Flint and see the damage he’s done – though he keeps getting cut off at the pass.
Some people said the film is anti-conservative or anti-big busineess, but these people miss the point. Roger & Me is simply a film questioning the practices of one particular business and shows us a parallel between the success of one unscrupulous business and one unlucky city. If anything it makes us question how we do business in this country and whether we should tolerate it. That having been said, I’m sure GM didn’t go into the shitter after this movie was made.
Moore’s done some stuff since then, including some minor documentaries and some books. His latest is Stupid White Men which, amongst others, slams George W. Bush. He supposedly has evidence that Enron bought the Bush campaign, along with several key energy board positions. Unlucky for Moore and his book sales that he happened to release the book after 9/11 and now Bush’s approval rating is 83%. I read what he had to say on the subject and I can’t help but think of all the people who are convinced “___ killed JFK” where they hold on to the one shred of evidence that proves their particular variant on the theory and ignore the mountains of evidence against the theory. Or perhaps it’s just that I liked it when people attacked Clinton but I don’t like it when people do the same to Bush. I guess it’s not so much fun when it’s your guy. In any event, I started to believe Michael Moore wasn’t as cool/smart/interesting as he used to be. I started to wonder if Roger & Me was really any good at all.
Now I’ve juist read a writeup of a viewing of a rough cut of his newest documetaty Bowling for Columbine, a film which dissects the question of why America is so violent. In part, the writeup says:
The quest for the answer to why America is #1 in the violent death department takes Moore to Canada, where the American and Canadian cultures are compared side by side… We learn that Canada has plenty of guns, plenty of poverty, plenty of different races, plenty of violent movies… And yet not a whole lot of violent crime. How can this be? Canada has all of the things the media and politicians blame our “culture of violence” on, but yet they can go to sleep without locking (or triple locking) their doors at night. It is a thing of beauty to watch Moore tear down the myths of pop cultures influence on violence in America. At one point he says “Heck! Most of the violent video games are created in Japan, a country which suffered 17 gun related deaths last year”
Early word is the movie can come across as a “gun control” movie (which would be odd, since Moore is a card carrying member of the NRA) but it’s more of an “attitiude control” movie. The question as to why America is so violent has no easy answer and you would be a fool (and I can name several fools) to give one. Moore’s film asks some needed questions, but doesn’t give answers.
Although I still don’t completely care for/agree with his liberal agenda, this sounds like a movie to make me have faith in Michael Moore again. Bowling for Columbine is due to be released in 2003.