July 25, 2003


He’s bigger than Rush, has more fans than O’Reilly, and sells books faster than Coulter. Followers plead with this “folk hero for the American people” to run for president. Reviewers compare him to Twain, Voltaire, and Swift. Unlike Rush and company, the appeal of this blue-collar megastar extends far beyond the hoi polloi. Hollywood and Manhattan agents wave gazillion-dollar contracts in front of his face. He wins prestigious awards that will never grace the Limbaugh or O’Reilly dens—Oscars, Emmys, Writer’s Guild Awards, and jury prizes at Cannes (where his latest movie received a record 13-minute standing ovation). People stop him on the streets of Berlin, Paris, and London—where, according to Andrew Collins of the Guardian, they consider him “the people’s filmmaker.”

Kay S. Hymowitz’s article on Michael Moore does not continue in this cheery vein. Go read.

Posted by Tim Blair at July 25, 2003 12:58 AM

One insufficient interpretation in the article, with emphasis added:

When asked by a reporter from the Arcata Eye in 2002 why he wasn’t speaking at independent bookstores rather than at corporate chains, he exploded in a tirade that revealed his willingness to have his principles—in this case, his distrust of corporate power—take a backseat to his personal vengefulness. “You know in my town the small businesses that everyone wanted to protect? They were the people that supported all the right-wing groups,” he ranted. “They were the Republicans in town, they were in Kiwanis, the Chamber of Commerce—people that kept the town all white. The small hardware salesman, the small clothing store sales persons, Jesse the Barber who signed his name three different times on three different petitions to recall me from the school board. Fuck all these small businesses—fuck ’em all. Bring in the chains.”

Not just personal vengefulness. In fact, one can see an agenda-based reason (rather than just political money contributions) that the Dems generally favor big biz over small biz. The GOP has been more half & half. (I hold no brief for small-business racists, but racism is a wedge issue for the left.) For all the more-leftist-Dem jeering against major corporations, the major corporations’ sheer size & systematic organization renders them more subject to leftist pressure (e.g., as large targets by boycotts — look at Citigroup & Rainforest Action Network just recently) & leftist reform (a large corporate system for implementing programs can be held accountable for implementing a reform if a reform law is passed). A major corporation certainly isn’t government, but is nevertheless closer than is a small business in structure to the public-sector kind of organization which “liberals” (American-style liberals) like to see businesses tend to approximate & into which leftists want businesses to be transformed. Small business also means many more people with ownership’s stakes & skills. When it comes to government takeover, it’s nationalization for big business but the more arduous collectivization for small business. The last thing the left wants is for many people to be in business for themselves.

Posted by: ForNow at July 25, 2003 at 02:30 AM

Good idea, but I think you've attributed way too much careful thought to Mike Moore. He probably just went batshit when asked a pointed question.

Posted by: Dylan at July 25, 2003 at 04:11 AM

He promised truth in a world of corruption and lies. “When I got out of my seat, and they all rose in standing ovation [at the Oscars], I could just stand there and soak up all the love, blow them a kiss, and get the hell out of here. But there’s a little voice, ‘You have work to do.’”

Hunh? The Oscars? Where those who didn't boo him off the stage sat on their hands in embarrassment?

Posted by: John Anderson at July 25, 2003 at 05:22 AM

Michael Moore might have moments of intellectual dishonesty, but in "Bowling for Columbine" I was impressed with the mental cartoon he rendered of the Lockheed Martin rocket facility just outside Littleton, Colorado, USA, where I was once employed (1976/77). Moore portrayed the facility as a missile factory, and folks like SpinSanity howled that the facility is used to build rockets for communications satellites. Remember, my friends, that the Littleton facility USED to be missile factory, until the retirement of the Titan II missile from the U.S. strategic missile arsenal in the mid-80's (when Klebold & Harris were children). So Moore's argument, that there was pervasive atmosphere of sublimated violence in the town that affected Klebold and Harris' upbringing (and by extension, given the millions of people employed by the arms industry, many Americans), CANNOT be dismissed offhand. Paradoxically, that would be the DISHONEST low-road approach: the approach ALL Moore's conservative critics take!

Moore charms through simplicity and directness. It's a useful skill, leaving enough out of an argument to make it direct and easily digested. After "Bowling for Columbine", no one can look at Charlton Heston quite the same way again. Bye Moses, hello heartless creep.....

A big man with big shoes and big ambitions! Someone to watch!

Posted by: Marc Valdez at July 25, 2003 at 07:24 AM

So Moore's argument, that there was pervasive atmosphere of sublimated violence in the town that affected Klebold and Harris' upbringing (and by extension, given the millions of people employed by the arms industry, many Americans), CANNOT be dismissed offhand.

Actually, it can be dismissed offhand by anyone who isn't batshit crazy.

Posted by: Brendan at July 25, 2003 at 08:24 AM

About the only argument Michael Moore made that I could subsribe to was that rabbits make better meat than pets.

Posted by: Sean at July 25, 2003 at 08:32 AM

Before you start denigrating Heston have a look at the other side of the fence

The argument about the Lockheed Martin facility is nonsense. Even if it had made ballistic missiles the entire time, it explains and excuses nothing. I grew up a military bases with very high powered weaponry all around me & I don't recall ever wanting to go kill everyone.
And no, I wasn't all that popular at school either so I don't buy that excuse either.
I also came from a broken home so that ones out. I fit a large part of their demographic (despite being in Australia rather than the US), as do many other people who *don't* go kill people. The kids were unbalanced. There may have been contributing factors, but lots of other people have those factors too. If they weren't homicidal to begin with they wouldn't have killed people.

Posted by: Glenn at July 25, 2003 at 10:18 AM

Correction: grew up on military bases.

My potted military bases have had limited growing success. :)

Posted by: Glenn at July 25, 2003 at 10:21 AM

Oh you know Michael bought one of those rabbits for the meat. It's so obvious. Look at the scene again and you can see bits of fur in the corner of his mouth.

Posted by: Charles at July 25, 2003 at 10:38 AM

People's film-maker indeed. He would turn people into a film if he sat on them.

Posted by: Habib Bickford at July 25, 2003 at 11:18 AM

Please note that I didn't say that Moore's argument is correct, only that it can't be dismissed offhand. It's worth a consideration. The goal, after all, is to understand what Columbine was all about. What makes some people go off the edge and others not is a mystery. Moore's theory floats in the mind's eye like a round, glistening (fill in the blank).

Moore has a thing against rabbits as pets? He never met my precious Cloudy!

Posted by: Marc Valdez at July 25, 2003 at 12:42 PM

Who said Mikey had anything against rabbits? He finds them delicious.
Actually Mike's fear of the little Calisi carriers stems from his first attempt to break into showbiz- as a magician, he found he was unable to pull rabbits out of a hat, and had to substitute by pulling hairs out of his arse; the resulting derision made him very bitter and twisted.

Posted by: Habib Bickford at July 25, 2003 at 01:36 PM

"Moore's theory floats in the mind's eye like a round, glistening (fill in the blank)."

What the hell???

Posted by: Andrea Harris at July 25, 2003 at 03:35 PM

"like a round, glistening" ... err, "asshat"?

Posted by: Buddy Ebsen at July 25, 2003 at 04:45 PM

Moore charms through simplicity and directness.

If I tell you we could bring about peace on earth, good will toward men by cloning Pauly Shore, that, also, is simple and direct. Unfortunately, it is neither (a) charming nor (b) true.

It's a useful skill, leaving enough out of an argument to make it direct and easily digested.

Something "direct and easily digested" is seldom an attempt at serious argument. The word you were looking for was "indoctrination."

Posted by: ilyka at July 25, 2003 at 07:13 PM

No, not indoctrination. More like a good story.

We're standing around, talking. You say you have no idea what caused the Columbine massacre. I say I have no idea what caused the Columbine massacre. Enter a man, a man so large that he seems to blot out the sun, and that man says, 'I know what caused the Columbine massacre!' Well, at that moment, that man HAS you! Whatever the merits of his argument, you WILL listen to him!

Don't make the mistake of misunderestimating Moore!

Posted by: Marc Valdez at July 26, 2003 at 03:47 AM

Now I get it. You're cold putting me on, aren't you?

Posted by: ilyka at July 26, 2003 at 04:15 AM

Not exactly. I think most of the arguments Moore makes ultimately fail to explain the Columbine massacre. But, then, it's such a hard thing to explain anyway. As 'Glenn' (above) says, he grew up surrounded by armaments, and never felt the urge to go 'postal'.

Most conservatives feel that going after the missile/communications satellite rocket distinction, they are doing damage to Moore. And yet there goes Moore, laughing, waddling off to the bank to make a sizable deposit and get another rifle. You can't defeat a storyteller with that carping approach. Only another, better, story will work. For now, Moore's tales are the only ones in play.

I prefer a sociological approach myself. Most gun massacres in the U.S. seem to occur in two types of communities:

1.) small cities that have recently grown beyond their rural roots, or;
2.) new middle to upper-middle-class suburbs on the edges of large urban areas (Littleton).

(For some reason, urbanites prefer to gun down their victims individually, vendetta-style, e.g. drive-bys, rather than execute them en masse.)

What do these two communities have in common? Heavy gun ownership! Given that any community will have some wackos, if they also have access to guns, some massacres are bound to occur.

Posted by: Marc Valdez at July 26, 2003 at 04:40 AM

I have not seen Bowling but, seriously, cant it be said that the reason for having wackos go ballistic and blow people away is that they are barraged by violence everywhere?

Playstation games, Xbox, movies, crappy, documentaires, etc...

I dont think the NRA has a shoot your neighbor night at meetings.

Posted by: Val Prieto at July 26, 2003 at 05:28 AM

What we need is a TV reality show which follows ten disaffected social misfits around and find out which one goes crazy, and why....

Posted by: Marc Valdez at July 26, 2003 at 05:54 AM

... uh, do YOU want to be the one who follows said dissatisfacted social misfits around to videotape the moment they go postal?

Posted by: Sean at July 26, 2003 at 09:48 AM

Moore is not really anti-gun. He's a socialist and all for the government and the party having guns. Moore's just against you and I having guns. Kleobold and Harris were a couple of losers who wanted to be famous and they knew how to get on the "news." Worked too.

Posted by: D2D at July 26, 2003 at 10:22 PM

Someone's appearing to go batshit thoughtless in response to a pointed question reflects merely a not stopping to think at the time of the question. Moore could easily have already thought carefully in the past about the idea that small business generally tends to be a greater obstacle than big business against the left. In fact the burden of his complaint concerns precisely a case in point, one involving the Left's best wedge issue, racism.

Posted by: ForNow at July 29, 2003 at 04:28 AM