"But speaking here in my capacity as a polished, sophisticated European as well, it seems to me the laugh here is on the polished, sophisticated Europeans. They think Americans are fat, vulgar, greedy, stupid, ambitious and ignorant and so on. And theyíve taken as their own, as their representative American, someone who actually embodies all of those qualities."
Michael Francis Moore is an American filmmaker and author known for his stridently left-wing political opinions, which he uses his documentary films to advocate. He is very controversial for this reason, and has a sizable hatedom who claim that his movies are full of dishonesty. Nonetheless, no fewer than three of his films have at one time or another held world records as "highest-grossing documentary not concerning music" and he has also received significant critical acclaim for them.His films include:
Roger & Me: His breakthrough film, it documents the mass unemployment and other negative economic effects caused by General Motors closing its factories in Flint, Michigan (where Moore was born, though he was raised in neighboring Davison), as well as his more ambitious attempt to find thenĖGeneral Motors chairman Roger B. Smith and convince him to see these bad side effects in person. When Moore finally tracks Smith down at the company's Christmas party, he turns him down.
Fahrenheit 9/11: Still the highest-grossing documentary of all time (nearly US$222.5 million), it looks into the administration of George W. Bush after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center as well as the War on Terror. It was made with the obvious intent of preventing Bush from getting re-elected in 2004 (not quite succeeding). It received the Palme D'Or at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival and amusingly, it is the movie for which George W. Bush won two Golden Raspberry Awards, one for "Worst Actor" and another for "Worst Screen Couple" with either Condoleezza Rice or His Pet Goat.note This was the first documentary to be nominated for or win a Razzie, as well as the first time a film not roundly judged to be of poor quality did so.
Sicko: An attack on the U.S. health care system, it details the effects that private health insurance has had on various citizens and contrasts the system with the universal health care systems of Canada, Great Britain, France, and even Cuba. Nominated for the Academy Award for the Best Documentary Feature, but lost.
Capitalism: A Love Story: This film studies the ongoing recession and, naturally, capitalism itself, particularly regarding the United States. Fittingly/ironically, it failed to recoup its US$20-million budget in its theatrical release.
Moore also created and hosted two satirical TV series, TV Nation (1994-95) and The Awful Truth (1999-2000).Please remember the Rule of Cautious Editing Judgment when contributing to this page.
"[Americans] are possibly the dumbest people on the planet. [Ö] We Americans suffer from an enforced ignorance. We don't know about anything that's happening outside our country. Our stupidity is embarrassing."
He titled one of his books "Stupid White Men".
Exacerbating this, as usual Moore featured himself prominently on the cover. Though this did give his critics opportunity to say that at least the title of the book was accurate, considering.
Bourgeois Bohemian: Moore makes much of his working-/middle-class upbringing; his critics make just as much of the fact that he has since become a multimillionaire. Both are correct; he focuses on the past, they on the present.
However, Moore does consistently claim he grew up in destitute Flint, Michigan.note Of course, Flint proper was in much better shape during his childhood. He's actually from one of its nearby (and much more affluent) suburbs.
Good Is Not Nice: Many agree with his views but hate his methods of editing footage and ridiculing his subjects. It's actually worked against him as many people cannot get past their dislike of his tactics to see what are usually very sincere and good points in his arguments.
His critics would argue that having a good point doesn't really matter very much when the argument it's based on is basically made-up nonsense. And half the time, the great sounding point is also basically made-up nonsense.
History Marches On: Capitalism: A Love Story presents the then-recent election of Barack Obama as a great victory in the war against capitalism. This view now seems hopelessly naive. On the other hand, some of his other comments, especially towards the end of the film, now sound like they're foreshadowing the Occupy movement.
Lighter and Softer: To an extent, Sicko, while still angry and opinionated, toned down the abrasive self-promoting style of Moore's past few films, with him not even appearing onscreen until halfway through and only one major "stunt" towards the end of the film, and avoided the blatant factual manipulations of Bowling for Columbine and Fahrenheit 9/11. Also quite literal in that he did lose some weight while working on the film.
More directly, Moore claims he wants The Man to pay more in taxes and to stop using loopholes to avoid it. However his own tax records show that he makes extensive use of tax shelters to minimize the amount of his sizable income he pays, on things such as his Enron Stock. (Yes, he owns stock in several of the companies his documentaries have criticized, and this information is freely available.)
Several of his movies have blasted union-busting attempts and espoused how great workers' unions are. Moore himself uses non-union camera crews and has consistently union-busted any attempts they've made to organize, using tactics any Corrupt Corporate Executive would be proud of.
Money, Dear Boy: It has been suggested that this is Moore's chief, if not sole, reason for backing politically left-of-center causes, and that if right-wing causes were seen as "trendy" he would happily endorse them.
Mood Whiplash: Roger & Me begins by showing Michael growing up in the Flint area and later finding work in San Francisco Ö only to move back to Flint and find it a shadow of its former self.
Obfuscating Stupidity: Again in Roger & Me, this is the attitude he adopts in the course of his search for Smith. One such attempt sees him walking into GM's head offices and looking astonished that Smith's private elevator won't take him to the CEO's office.
Arguably he sometimes comes across as being this too. at least one of his critics has openly wondered "whether [he] is as ignorant as he looks," but no one can deny that he is rather good at what he does.
Raised Catholic: Moore was raised as a Catholic and still identifies as such, though he disagrees with the Church's official stance on gay and abortion rights.
Refuge in Audacity: This suggestion that General Motors would do better to peddle crack cocaine than manufacture automobiles if, as he recounts hearing time after time from assorted CEOs, profit truly were supreme.
Shameless Self-Promoter: Another frequent accusation levelled at him. A common point of criticism is that the various stunts and pranks he puts in his movies seem to be more about putting himself front-and-center rather than addressing the issues he's supposedly focusing on.
Significant Monogram: In Roman numerals, his initials (MM) indicate 2000. Perhaps coincidentally — or perhaps not — he has enjoyed substantially higher publicity in the 21st century than the 20th.
Strawman Has a Point: invoked In making Bowling for Columbine Moore was surprised to learn that Canada has higher per capita gun ownership than the States, but lower per capita gun crime. He thus came to the conclusion that the NRA (and others) are not entirely wrong.
In Bowling for Columbine, he spliced select portions of various speeches Heston made as president of the NRA to appear like one speech that he gave during the organization's convention in Denver which makes Heston look like an insensitive prick to the Columbine Massacre (which had occurred, downright inconveniently, less than two weeks before). The fact that Heston's suit and background wasn't matching up between cuts is either really funny or really sad.
Also in Columbine, the "Calling up the stairs" sequence which occurs after the heavily edited interview with Heston near the end of the film — if the shots are mapped out in the sequence presented, it is quickly revealed that it is literally impossible for the sequence to have occurred as presented.
Or the stunt with the "gun in the bank" which he set up 30 days ahead of time, and yet again spliced the footage together so it appears ridiculous.
In Fahrenheit 9/11, he confronted several legislators walking around Washington, DC and asked them if they had children in the military. One such ambush interview was Representative Mark Kennedy (Republican from Minnesota), who gives a confused look before the shot cuts away. Right before he told Moore that his nephew was deployed in Afghanistan.