Sunday, June 28, 2009


Last week at the movies, there was an ad for Michael Moore's latest thing. I used to be a fan of Moore's, actually. Roger and Me is a brilliant bit of propaganda as, I suppose, most of Moore's work is.

What turned me against Moore wasn't really politics. It was his show "TV Nation". On an episode of that show, he did a story about a hospital where uninsured people who had received services were allowed to pay off their debt by working for the hospital. The people involved were happy with the program, patients, doctors, administrators alike.

Moore ingratiated himself to these people to get his interviews, and then turned around and opened up a slave trade across the street. You see, paying a debt you've incurred is morally equivalent to slavery.

I didn't get the logic. But I'll never forget the looks on these people's faces as Moore hounded them for their thoughts about his little circus. Utter betrayal. Confusion. Hurt. He had no concept of his betrayal or empathy for those who had suffered it; people who had after all neither meant (nor committed) any evil--other than, of course, to possibly hold a different point-of-view from Moore. (That really wasn't clear. The hospital solution was just one possible way to handle the situation. That people were happy with it doesn't mean they might not have preferred a different route.)

This guy claims that Moore is a narcissist. And builds a good case. I don't know. I do know he treats people poorly in pursuit of getting what he wants.

As the preview rolled, I realized that this is why I avoid Sacha Baron Cohen. I saw his "Ali G" show for a couple of episodes, but then avoided the rest and his movies. And not because he lacked talent. But because I feel a similar sort of deception going on.

But then Candid Camera used to strike me as kind of creepy, too.


  1. I have to disagree with you about 'Roger and Me'.

    I had heard that it was a great film about the destruction of the American automobile industry, as shown by what happened to Flint, Michigan.

    What I found it to be was a collection of garbage. I can't remeber now if I even watched the whole thing (it was better than 15 years ago), but I do remember watching the first half-hour constantly thinking; this HAS to get better. And it never did.

    Also, the difference between 'Borat' and Candid Camera- Candid Camera was never out to be mean and degrading to people. Cohen is, which is why I find him unwatchable.

    By the way, you have some great stuff here; always enjoyable reading.

  2. Edjy--

    It is a collection of garbage--as is all Moore's stuff. But it's garbage often presented brilliantly.

    Roger and Me isn't about the destruction of the auto industry, it's about how the country is run by corporations and rubes and crooked Republicans who can't be trusted. Moore's stuff is never exactly laser-like in its focus; it's all part of a mishmash of statist ideas, hate the rich stuff (and make me rich while I'm encouraging you to hate the rich).

    None of his stunts hold up once you get past the spectacle. (That was something I realized on the first episode of "TV Nation" where, within days of NAFTA being passed, he was trolling northern Mexico bitching about how it hadn't improved things.)

    I don't know that much about "Candid Camera": I'm sure it wasn't as mean, perhaps not mean at all, even. (There were rip-offs, of that era that I think certainly were transgressive in ways that might not be considered mean.) Still made me a bit uncomfortable.

    Thanks for the kind words.

  3. I'm not surprised Cohen's work has been so popular. I think there's a pretty easy formula to follow if you want to be critically acclaimed. It has everything to do with picking the right targets, and Cohen has been very crafty in this respect, if not original. The bastard.

  4. Yeah, apparently, like Obama, there's nothing funny about Muslims.


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