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More liberal-ish rantings

So this evening I ended up catching the last half of The Big One (Michael Moore's movie from '97).

Now, after watching several of his movies and hearing him talk a bit I have to say that while I don't like his approach to some things (some of the "stunts" in his movies just feel too calculated and a bit stupid/pointless) I do have to give him credit for being a genuinely funny guy with an interesting take on issues that a lot of people don't want to talk about (or even think about in many cases).

I still think he dropped the ball big time on Bowling for Columbine. I think I've mentioned it before, but I didn't like how he focused exclusively on Canada and the US while completely ignoring Mexico which has extremely draconian anti-gun laws and yet has a major gun problem. Looking at some of his other work, I can't help but think that if he had just looked at the the three countries and their economies and if he had factored in social effects that extreme poverty and poor education have on people, he could have come up with a really useful commentary on the gun problem (or more precisely the violence problem) in the US/world.

That aside, the other stuff I've seen him do is really fascinating and I think he asks some really significant questions in all of his movies. I don't always agree with the conclusions that he comes up with, but he definitely has a nicely twisted sense of humor when it comes to how he gets his point across. He's certainly given me quite a bit to think about.

If you haven't caught The Big One, I would recommend checking it out (it was on IFC tonight). It's kind of fun and it doesn't leave you with the same sense of disgust that F9/11 does. He still does some serious finger pointing but he does it with more of a sense of humor and with a bit less outright sarcasm. I also liked his style of cutting between his book tour and his attempts to talk to CEOs. On the whole this movie was still thought provoking but it was also more entertaining and fun to watch.

Interesting stuff.


I agree with you re: the socio-economic ties with violence. I think in Bowling for Columbine countries like Mexico were left out because the comparison was being made between "first world" countries. This is the choice for the argument he made, it succeeded in some ways and as you mentioned failed in others.

As for F9/11 it just left me sad. Most of what he said, had already been reported by our media but the way the corporations (through their own soundbites) made the people involved seem like pawns in a big business / middle east war chess game was realy depressing. And I'm glad he said some of those things, because someone had to.

Just my two cents.

When faced with another Bush-clone candidate, our country again voted properly last night. If people know all sides of an issue they can make an informed choice at the polls, Mike Moore just presents that other side for 'em.
I've heard that idea before, but given his previous work profiling the squalor of people living in Flint and other areas and the relative poverty of areas like South TX (and most of the border regions between the US and Mexico) I don't entirely buy that logic. Sure the US may have many verifiable first world areas, but there are some places that strive to be third world as well (just ask anyone living in the projects or in tenament housing etc...).

I think Bowling stumbled by not making the connection that guns aren't the cause of violence, merely the tool. Now that I think about it, the reason I was thinking about this is that he does make that point in The Big One. In it he has two pictures, one of the OKC bombing and one from Flint of a factory that was closed and abandoned and they both look almost identical.

He goes on to observe that sure, OKC was obviously terrorism, but he also asks what should we call it when companies close their factories and lay off their workers and outsource their jobs to third world countries all the while reaping record profits. He claims that those actions directly contribute to suicides, murders, spousal abuse etc... and I was impressed that he would have the guts to say that.

I think the problem we run into is that people invariably want an easy answer. The logic seems to be guns=bad ergo no guns=good and that's it. No one wants to stop and think beyond that to ask why people do bad things with guns. Ironically guns don't fight back and they can't point any fingers while greedy corporations and heartless CEOs gleefully pad their accounts and prepare their golden parachutes while callously throwing people away like nothing more than garbage.

So far I've found it interesting that Moore's observations of economic situations and the struggle between corporate greed and human dignity invariably seem to be fairly well thought out, but in Bowling, where he goes away from that, his arguements seem to lack some of the spark that make him interesting to listen to. It almost seems like he's arguing for an agenda that he's not entirely on board with and I think it shows in some of the stuff he ended up doing in the movie (like hacking apart the Charlton Heston interviews so that they looked like continuous parts of a speech/interview).

I guess ultimately I see Canada with reasoanble gun laws and relatively low gun crimes and Mexico with extremely harsh gun laws and an absurdly high rate of gun related crimes and it strikes me that the main difference is economic propsperity. If people are happy and able to find work, make a decent living etc... then they don't end up grabbing a gun to go rob the corner liquor store. OTOH if a country says that it's ok for their corporations to screw over everyone they need to in order to make higher profits, where do you think crime is going to go? What's that likely to do to the poor working stiffs who can't find a job?

I agree about F9/11. I think someone should make those points and I'm happy to see just how popular the movie was this weekend. I just hope it holds it's own for a while so that more people can see it and start asking the tough questions. I doubt that the election will be anywhere near as close this time around, but if it was and somehow he won, I could live with it if people really did choose to let him stick around even if he is that greedy, slimey and incompatent (of course I'd seriously start thinking about moving at that point ;).
What rating would you give it out of 10?
I think I'd give "The Big One" a 7.5 out of ten and "Fahrenheit 9/11" a 7.

I think they're both interesting movies, but I think some of the message gets lost when he pulls stunts and manipulates his footage the way that he does. I'm not a big fan of the "ends justify the means" method of storytelling. I think his movies would be a lot more solid (and perhaps more persuasive) if he took the higher ground more often (instead of just going for easy emotional shots).
Thanks for the review. I'll have to go check the two movies out!