When Moore is Less

Michael Moore’s new film, Capitalism: A Love Story has just been released. The comments I’ve heard about it have been mostly good. (You can find Louis Proyect’s review here.) I will no doubt go to see it. I must, however, admit to having some feelings of trepidation. Every Michael Moore film, no matter how good, has at least one awful moment in it.

Sicko is a great film. One has to admire the courage that Moore showed in taking on the insurance industry. Yet there’s that horrible moment when Moore starts gushing over Hillary Clinton, as if he has a school boy crush on her. (For all I know, he does.) What makes this insulting is that Clinton helped to kill the single payer movement in the 1990’s.

I know I’m not the only lefty who cringed when Moore started berating Charlton Heston (who was in the early stages of Alzheimer’s Disease) in Bowling for Columbine. Heston was a crank, but he was a relatively harmless one in the larger scheme of things. I remember that when this film first came out, I heard an interview with Moore on the KPFK radio station in Los Angeles. The interviewer started things off by asking him to explain what the movie was about. Moore responded with a quote from D. H. Lawrence. I can’t remember the exact words, but it was something to the effect that “every American is essentially a killer.” The only conclusion I could draw from this was that Moore was saying that violence is ingrained in US culture. Interestingly, this was the argument that Heston tried to make in the film, but Moore kept interrupting him.

By the way, does anyone actually know what the main argument of Bowling for Columbine is?

On the thread following Proyect’s review, Renegagde Eye reports: “I saw a screening of this film, with MM in person there. He was asked about a labor party, why he doesn’t split with Dems. He replied he was too old to start a new party. He recommended taking the Dems over.” Moore might as well have argued that we should take over the Roman Catholic Church. In both cases, we have an entrenched institution with a great deal of money and vested interests behind it. The very idea that leftists (even ones who wear baseball caps) can take it over is moonshine. It would actually be easier to start a new party.

Moore is a talented and important filmmaker, but when it comes to trying to find some way for us to move forward, he is clueless.

Update: I went to see Capitalism: A Love Story and I must say that I liked it a lot. I think it is the best of the Moore films that I’ve seen. There wasn’t anything like the horrible moments that I talked about. True, the movie was soft on Obama, and there was a teary-eyed tribute to Franklin Roosevelt that I could have done without. However, the film was powerful because it showed concrete examples of the suffering that capitalism causes, and it also showed examples of people fighting back (though I would have liked to have seen more of the latter.) At the screening that I went to, people applauded at some moments. I strongly urge everyone to see this important film.

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