Michael Moore Is Uninspiring
Director Michael Moore, whose anti-Iraq war film “Fahrenheit 9/11” sparked a firestorm of controversy before becoming a post-election footnote, topped an annual list on Monday of Hollywood’s “coldest” celebrities.
The outspoken documentarian, who seemed to be everywhere during the 2004 U.S. presidential campaign, urging defeat of President Bush, ranks No. 1 on this year’s “Frigid 50” roster of lackluster stars published by online movie magazine FilmThreat.com.
The Web site, known for an anti-establishment take on the entertainment industry, said its list names the stars it found to be the “the polar opposite of the hottest celebrities: these are the least powerful, least-inspiring, least-intriguing people in Hollywood.”
Well, now this is a little more like it. I’m tellin’ ya, the end of the world is at hand. I’m running out of things to wish for that aren’t already going my way.
I know, there’s much more serious stuff…Iran’s nukes come to mind – but I’ll certainly accept seeing Michael Moore knocked off his holy pedestal just this once. Note, the link doesn’t go to the filmthreat web site, as I post this it is having some kind of problem. But let me make a quick comment on what kind of intellectual damage Moore has done to our national ability to think. Yes, I do believe to some extent it is nationalized…I’m winding up a long year of having the following conversation over, and over, and over again…
LIB: Have you seen Fahrenheit 9/11 yet?
LIB: I just saw it this weekend. Man, you really should go see that. You really should.
MKF: I hope you liked it.
LIB: There is a lot of information in there that you really ought to know about. It has a lot to do with the issues in this election, which I know you have some strong opinions on. I just think you ought to know all the facts.
MKF: If any “facts” come along, by all means let me know. You didn’t really buy into it that that was a “documentary” did you?
LIB: No, I’m not saying everything he says is a hundred percent correct…but it’s like…why won’t you see Michael Moore’s stuff?
MKF: Oh, I’ve seen some of his stuff. I’ve watched Bowling For Columbine from beginning to end. Have you seen that?
MKF: It’s kind of interesting to get an overview of what Michael Moore’s tactics are. I’m pretty sure at this point I have a good handle on what he’s all about, how he works, and based on that I’ve made a decision that the work he puts together doesn’t bear an adequately strong relationship to the truth to interest me very much.
LIB: Well I’ve already said I know what he says isn’t 100% true…it’s just that the Fahrenheit movie makes certain points, which…well like for instance. There’s this scene where President Bush is commenting on the war while he’s playing golf…this isn’t commentary by Moore, it’s actually footage. Ya just gotta be there, man.
MKF: Columbine had “actual footage” in it too.
On and on it goes. I emphasized the passages that impress me most deeply, which, it seems, I’ve heard over and over again more than anything. What he says is not necessarily true. But he said this thing that you really ought to know about. What is up with that mindset.
Let’s try projecting that out & seeing what we come up with shall we?
My uncle lies like a rug but he says Ed McMahon handed him a check for 10 million dollars.
My grandfather is schizo but he swears he heard voices.
My brother never takes responsibility for anything but he says his debts are not his fault.
The neighbor’s kid always blames things on my kid but he says my kid broke the window.
My aunt doesn’t know what she’s talking about but she’s pretty sure she saw a UFO.
My speedometer is busted but it’s telling me my car isn’t moving.
You’ve got to wonder about the mental health of someone who will refuse to vouch for the dependability of an information source, and in the same breath right after the word but, assert that that very same source came up with some nugget of “information” and assign some kind of weight to the information. You know what this comes from? Decades and decades of partisan, unreasonable thinking. This is something I could write on all day, so I won’t go deeply into it here, but let’s summarize.
If you form opinions, and solidify them into conclusions, based on intellectual reasons you have found for doing so, that is reasonable thinking. I walked into the kitchen thinking I had earlier turned everything off. Facing away from the stove, my face felt cooler than my back. Facing toward it, I noticed my back felt cooler and my face felt warmer. I have an opinion now that I might have left the stove on and I didn’t have this opinion earlier. I look at the light on the stove and it’s on, now I have a conclusion that I have left the stove on.
Unreasonable thinking comes mostly from the grandfather of all unreasonable ideas, which was formed with the best of intentions. A man must be presumed innocent until proven guilty. The stove can be on or the stove can be off. Since my prejudice is that the stove is off, I must maintain that opinion until it is proven that the stove is on. That means while I’m feeling this warmth come from the stove, I must maintain the opinion against reason that the stove remains off, since that is my stated position. I will not flip-flop on this until I look down and see the light is on. Until that very microsecond when I have proof that the stove is on, I must maintain fidelity to the premise that the stove is off.
Just as until I get a videotape showing a man firing a bullet into the chest of a murder victim, I must maintain my established opinion, against reason, that he didn’t kill him. Powder burns, several witnesses, fingerprints, motives don’t matter because they are not “proof”.
This kind of mindset was formed to protect the innocent from false imprisonment, but it doesn’t logically follow that today it is maintained through such altruistic motives. No, what the motive really is, is a childish fear of being the only guy in a crowd to have a certain opinion. If you adhere to a set of rules – “the stove must be presumed to be off until it is proven to be on” – you have assurance that a large number of other people, properly adhering to the same set of rules, will always have the same opinion at any moment in time that you do.
There really isn’t too much that can go “wrong” and leave you with an opinion that is the polar opposite of what your peers hold. You can disagree about where to assign your initial prejudices, of course – you may settle on “A” as the desirable prejudice and your brethren may settle on “Not A”. But that’s usually resolved through partisan politics: President Bush says the stove is on, you & your dorm roommates all hate President Bush, so it’s kind of a given that we’ll all assume the stove is cold as a tomb.
You may disagree on the standard of proof. But that’s about it. Once a roomful of people has refused to gather the courage to think as individuals, they’ve pretty much made a “pact” without even knowing about it, that they’ll all have the same opinion at any moment in time and that can be very comforting. This is the essence of un-reasonable thinking – thinking things without having a reason to think them, and without pondering the degree of certainty we feel justified in investing in those opinions.
If you rely on reason to form your opinions – engage in reasonable thinking, form opinions you have found reasons to support – then you are relying on your observations, and necessarily, on your ability as an individual to conduct and evaluate those observations. The payoff is realized when you begin to take on adult responsibilities and therefore must place a personal stake on the conclusions you have reached. I am responsible, therefore I stand to lose something if my home burns down, therefore, I shall form an opinion I have reason to support about whether the stove is on. I am looking for reasons to think that it is hot and reasons to think that it is cold. My initial assumption, until I have proof one way or the other, is…nothing. I shall maintain knowledge of what it is I do not know.
That is very frightening to some people. To them, if you engage in this “reasonable” thinking, presuming nothing, just noticing things & evaluating what this could mean about what you do & don’t know, you are exposing yourself. Several times in one day you leave yourself open to the likelihood that a lot of people will think one thing, and you’ll think something opposite. Then maybe you’ll have to defend it, with your own ideas.
I understand why Michael Moore makes a lot of money, and I understand why many of the people who pay good money to see his movies come away believing they have seen a “documentary”. I understand why there are millions of such people.
What I don’t understand, is why I’m having this conversation with people who are actually very intelligent, assertive, and shouldn’t be the least bit afraid of having an opinion with which large numbers of others may not agree. Why they are in my face telling me the narrator is unreliable and untruthful, but his movie has something in it, and this something has some kind of meaning. Would Fahrenheit somehow manage to clear this question up for me this if I chose to see it? I don’t know. Having not seen it, I will not comment on what is in that work, only on Moore’s general style.
But if it cannot be widely recognized that when Michael Moore says something or puts something in his movies, this doesn’t mean very much…even when it is widely recognize that he is a deceptive piece of editorial pond scum…I’m glad that, at the very least, it is widely accepted that he is un-inspiring which is why I find his inclusion in this list to be such a refreshing change.