April 03, 2003


Evan Kirchhoff takes a serious look at just what does Michael Moore and his fans believe. The short answer seems to be: nothing, really. Of course, I simplify -- but this reminds me of something I meant to blog about but never got around to it.

I've had jolly fun calling Mr. Fatty McMoorefat names (like that), but back in my less discerning, more "radical" days (radical in that I used to tape MTV's 120 Minutes "alternative" program and sneer at the prime-time pop videos), I used to watch Moore's show TV Nation. As I recall, it was mildly amusing, not really hilarious, but it provided the sort of irony-laden snarkiness that my friends and I mistook for fun back then. A sequence stuck in my mind: Moore had the Gay Men's Chorus stand outside the home of Senator Jesse Helms and sing whatever it is that group sings. The occasion was, I guess, to reprimand Helms on some anti-gay comment or move or other. Helms' wife was at home, but Helms was not. I remember that she came to the window, and was polite in her Southern way to these guys, complimenting their singing and so forth. I don't remember if she asked them to leave; that little snippet is all that remains in memory. At the time I was all, "Haha! Gotcha, Helms!" or something. But now I think of it, and I think: what kind of person harrasses a man's wife outside of her property because he doesn't like the man's politics or viewpoint? I guess it was easier for Moore to stage his scene outside the old lady's house in whatever city that was, instead of on the steps of the Capitol Building.

I remember another segment now. Moore had some guy move into a house by himself and act really weird -- drag large, heavy garbage bags to the back yard and bury them, create chopping, banging, hammering sounds late at night, wander around his property smeared with a reddish substance, and so on, all in full view of the neighbors, who were shown looking puzzled and occasionally revolted at the man's antics, but not doing anything else. I can't be sure but I think this was after Jeffrey Dahmer's arrest. Moore's point seemed to be that no amount of suspicious activity would cause your neighbors to call the cops on you or otherwise bother you. I was a snob but I wasn't stupid -- I figured out Moore's underlying premise, which was that American society was so standoffish and alienated from itself that a serial killer could do whatever he wanted in full view of everyone and no one would want to "get involved." Of course, I didn't consider the implications of that entire idea, because feeling superior to it all was more important than actually asking myself how people in society were supposed to simultaneously be completely watchful of each other and totally respectful of individual rights to privacy.

Kirchhoff says that Moore's stuff is "valued specifically because he's making it up and known to be making it up." That could be -- but there are plenty of Moore fans who are both intelligent (I was no dummy back then, at least about things that didn't have to do with reality) and actually believe -- in so far as such a shallow belief can be held -- that Moore's underlying premises are correct despite -- or even because of -- the lies and distortions in his works.

(Via Colby Cosh.)

Posted by Andrea Harris at April 3, 2003 02:22 AM

I'm no great fan of Moore, but I will admit that he is a very good performance artist.

Like all entertainers, he's reached a plateau of fame, and if he doesen't take it up some more, he'll be yesterday's has-been. He knows this, and attempted to use the Oscars to prove his relevancy.

It'll be interesting to see how Bowling for Columbine's rental stats work out in the current political climate.

Posted by: mike at April 3, 2003 at 03:25 AM