Filmmaker Michael Moore has again ‘involved himself’ in an ‘event’ in order to generate publicity and get his (quite sizable) face and body in front of a television camera. (Oh, and he just happens to have a new book out, too).
This time it was the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ demonstrations in lower Manhattan that has been designed to protest corporate greed and the excesses of the U.S. banking industry.
I have already made my views pretty clear about ‘Occupy,’ so now I am focusing on Moore himself.
Honestly, I don’t really know what to make of the big man from Flint, Michigan.
I guess the best way to describe Moore is that he is a ‘celebrity’ – in an age where celebrities occupy the very highest ranks in the public’s consciousness.
Moore is clearly addicted to his fame and notoriety; and obviously enjoys its many perks, including, of course, the immense wealth he has accumulated for himself.
And, in keeping with his apparent desire to remain famous and firmly in the ‘public eye’ – he knows he must be ‘controversial’ and ‘polarizing.’ Otherwise, nobody would bother with him.
Indeed, fame serves as its own reward – the most important motivation for someone who has achieved celebrity (regardless of one’s actual talent or value) is to remain famous (witness the equally dubious ‘careers’ of the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Glenn Beck, Kim Kardashian and many others).
Thus, Moore is compelled to be as outrageous, obnoxious and extreme as he can be. He is essentially a showman and entertainer – he knows he is widely hated, and that makes him “interesting” and worthy of media-attention.
Controversy sells and Moore knows it – he’s not dumb.
Words like “phony” and “hypocrite” have long been attached to Moore by his detractors (including me). But these vague words don’t begin to adequately describe the Moore phenomenon.
I think he is pretty comparable to Limbaugh -- Moore is to the Left what Limbaugh is to the Right (and both are laughing all the way to the proverbial bank).
Neither Limbaugh nor Moore can be described as intellectual nor qualified political analysts – both employ simple-minded sound-bites to address profoundly complex subjects simply in order to promote their own fame and celebrity.
They add nothing to culture nor to the social discourse – they are all about making money.
Moreover, it’s unclear to me that Moore (or Rush) actually believe anything they say.
I have watched a number of Moore’s documentaries and found them mildly entertaining -- if lacking in substance and conviction. Reportedly, these films (which have earned Moore hundreds of millions of dollars) are filled with factual errors, distortions, exaggerations and outright lies. There are any number of ‘anti-Moore’ websites which exhaustively detail these transgressions.
From my perspective, Moore reduces extremely complex social issues (gun control, health care insurance, capitalism, etc.) into overly-simplistic sloganeering. He also cites facts and statistics which are either grossly misleading and/or taken out of context.
Moore is a propagandist – he knows his viewers have short attention spans and are too easily distracted to bother thinking about sophisticated treatises on difficult, multi-layered topics.
When people talk about the ‘dumbing down’ of America, I immediately think of Moore.
He even wears a ‘uniform’ of the ubiquitous baseball cap and slovenly jeans and t-shirt to broadcast he is one of the proletariat (a “working-class hero,” albeit one with a bank account as huge as his girth).
The truly sad aspect to Moore is that many of his “causes” are indeed legitimate and in need of immediate redress. However, he undermines his positions by his endless hypocrisis.
Indeed, friends of mine who generally agree with Moore’s views on various subjects are nonetheless embarrassed and appalled by his tactics and vulgar self-promotion.
Granted, most everyone is hypocritical to some extent (including me). Most of us have noble ideals and goals – but we are usually ground down by life’s realities and become selfish, venal and egotistical. I suppose that is normal human nature.
But Moore’s hypocrisies are magnified a million-fold because he has placed himself in the glare of the media spotlight – consequently, he has become an easy target.
I actually feel sorry for Moore. Because he is intelligent, aware and sensitive, he knows that he is a fraud and he is widely despised. However, at this point, he doesn’t even care about his integrity -- he needs to generate revenue for his next book and inevitable next movie.