June 29, 2004

Open Season

There's lots of Michael Moore-bashing going on, but Matt Labash has done some real reporting on his subject, and the resulting portrait goes beyond the Moore body of work, and beyond the much-ridiculed "body" itself, to reveal something about Michael Moore the man. You really should read it all, but I am compelled to excerpt just a bit from "Michael Moore, One-Trick Phony"

He's been compared to Mark Twain by the New York Times, to Voltaire by Newsday, to Mother Teresa by . . . himself. And it is precisely that self-regard--that propensity to concur with his clipping service--that's made Moore what he actually is: a preachy bore and one-trick phony whose work has become so sanctimoniously unamusing it could make Cesar Chavez pull for management...

...Not since Francis of Assisi has a man's geographic origin been so inexorably part of his identity. But the working-class upstart from Flint actually came from the nearby bedroom community of Davison. John Lusk, who went to high school with Moore, describes their suburb as "lily white, . . . solid middle class. It was idyllic. . . . But you'd think listening to Mike [that he] lived in the pits of the Flint depression." In interviews since celebrity found him, Moore's regular refrain has been, "I'm not supposed to be doing this anyway, I'm supposed to be building Buicks back in Flint." But that was a fate Moore had long ago escaped: He never worked a day on the assembly line...

...Though Moore's career has been one long, tiresome impression of a harlequin Reuther brother whistling the song of the working man while cracking the backs of corporate greedheads, he has had no problem adopting celebrity trappings or acting the part of the temperamental starlet. As early as 1990, when Moore was still fresh from the salt-of-the-earth mines, the director of the Sundance Film Festival complained that he was "overly demanding" and "made a scene" when he discovered his accommodations weren't as deluxe as Clint Eastwood's...

...Conversations with some dozen former employees turn up such descriptions of Moore as "mercurial," "demanding," "paranoid," and a "fork-tongued manipulator" who is "totally disingenuous" and "feeds on people's insecurities." Former TV Nation staffers compare their working conditions to "a sweatshop," a "repressive police state," "indentured servitude," and a "concentration camp." One former staffer says, "Most people hated Michael, not because he was a perfectionist, but because he was an a--hole." A former producer, casting about for a despot appropriately "large, with gluttonous appetites--not just ruthless, but sadistic," finally compares a stint with Moore to "working for Idi Amin--without the laughs." Another staffer simply states, "My parents want him dead."

By the way, Labash also reviews Fahrenheit 9/11 here.

A couple more takes on Moore and then I promise I'll leave him alone. Mark Steyn on F/911:

Midway through the picture, a "peace" activist provides a perfect distillation of its argument. He recalls a conversation with an acquaintance, who observed, "bin Laden's a real asshole for killing all those people". "Yeah," says the "pacifist", "but he'll never be as big an asshole as Bush." That's who Michael Moore makes films for: those sophisticates who know that, no matter how many people bin Laden kills, in the assholian stakes he'll always come a distant second to Bush.

And David Horowitz is not so much disturbed that a self-important America-hating leftist radical is making movies to the fawning approval of the press and the entertainment industry. That's been going on for years. He is disturbed by the fact that mainstream Democratic politicians are lining up behind a man who holds some truly deplorable views about our country, and allowing his message to be the message of their party in an election year. Read this David Brooks piece containing some of Moore's quotes, Democrats, and decide if this is a man who speaks for you.

Posted by dan at June 29, 2004 10:58 PM