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March 21, 2002
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Michael Moore San Diego Near Arrest Blown Out of Proportion: Despite Moore's implications that his appearance was somehow a courageous act of dissent, it turns out that the whole thing was a harmless followthrough with a permit: a trivial book signing session, not a rally storming the gates. Is Michael Moore a legend in his own mind? And with self-designated spokesmen of this egotistical caliber, how can the Left as a whole expect to be taken seriously?
posted by ed (28 comments total)

 
Lileks has some interesting things to say about Moore.
posted by ed at 6:58 PM on March 21, 2002


I know Lileks is a pariah to some around here, but he posted a hilarious take-down of Moore yesterday. Even when I was a liberal, I always hated Moore. He was the self-promotional, arrogant media-whore type that always used to turn me off. I wonder how many moderate liberals actually take him seriously as a liberal thinker?
posted by evanizer at 7:01 PM on March 21, 2002


Dang! Beat me to it, ed! ;-)
posted by evanizer at 7:02 PM on March 21, 2002


Reasonable commentary by the author, Kynn Bartlett. I give Bartlett respect as a progressive calling baloney on Moore. Moore wants so badly to be a martyr it's embarrassing.

I've said it before: Moore and Rush Limbaugh should be tied into a sack together and dropped from a helicopter over the North Atlantic. They're two sides of the same bullshit populist coin, and they delegitimize virtually every issue they touch.
posted by Ty Webb at 7:02 PM on March 21, 2002


I'll cheerfully agree that Moore is more of a left-oriented media personality than anything else, and his whole response to this (why not just blame the event organizers for not anticipating the crowds? Better yet, why not just roll with it? any author will tell you book tours don't generally go as planned) is eye-rollingly silly and self-aggrandizing.

But why would we worry about the Left being taken or not taken seriously based on Moore's antics? Nobody appointed him a leader, no matter how many people buy his book or enjoy his extraordinarily broad anticorporate satire. Plenty of people on the Left would tell you so. It's like asking how conservatives can expect to be taken seriously when Rush is popular on the radio and Bill O'Reilly sells a ton of books. They're all entertainers, and while for better or for worse they influence the political tides in this country (mind you, the Right is much more successful at this kind of thing than guys like Moore), they don't constitute leadership of any kind.
posted by BT at 7:03 PM on March 21, 2002


I guess if "the Left" can be tarred with the brush that is Michael Moore, "the Right" can be tarred with the likes of...

...oh, heck. There are just so many to choose from!
posted by five fresh fish at 7:04 PM on March 21, 2002


That article by Lileks is fantastic.

I might be borrowing this from someone here. I'm borrowing it from someone somewhere, I just don't remember where I got it from:

The world should be a wonderful, loving place where all people are equal, free to hold and speak their own thoughts and opinions without fear.

Unless you don't agree with Michael Moore, in which case you're just a tool.
posted by tomorama at 7:11 PM on March 21, 2002


I think its fairly obvious that Moore is more a rable rouser and a comedian than a serious political thinker. I don't know about this "left," the only person I know who bought his new book voted for Bush. Giving it to our elected officials and their non-sense is about as non-partisan as you can get.
posted by skallas at 7:12 PM on March 21, 2002


Moore is an easy target the same way Rush Limbaugh is. There's a lot of rah-rah stupidity on both sides, though Moore doesn't seem to be an apologist as much as he is a chronic complainer. Good for him, his Enron letter to Bush exposed a lot of connections that were not brought up too often in the media. I'm sure Rush has had his not too heavily spinned messages too.

I read Lilek's essay and its genius if you've never ever considered Moore to be just as much as a loudmouth as Limbaugh. He's not some revolutionary hero, he doesn't represent the "left", but he does his best to trash politicians he doesn't like and there's much appeal in that, especially if you can do it in a tv-entertainment way.
posted by skallas at 7:20 PM on March 21, 2002


Where the general perception of the Left comes into play is that the Moore book climbed on the New York Times bestseller list. This leads me to believe that a sizable cluster of working class people purchased the book, slapping down $25 of carefully saved cash for it, hoping to find solace in Moore's words and possibly looking to Moore as a leader of sorts.

That's a problem, particularly when the janitor who wanted to close up shop was probably one of the few, if not the only, legitimate working class people in that audience. And the majority of the audience, caught by the rapture of an Important Progressive Celebrity, failed to see this.

Meanwhile, Jimmy Breslin publishes a hell of a book on class chasm. And these Moore acolytes haven't a clue about it.
posted by ed at 7:26 PM on March 21, 2002


Another report on the incident.
posted by ed at 7:31 PM on March 21, 2002


Kynn's take is on target. I was *actually there* at this thing at Marston. Moore has good intentions. It's important not to let his bombast get in the way of his genuine points and questions. Who the heck else is arguing that dissent is *healthy* these days in the USA? I for one have enjoyed his brand of entertainment since Roger & Me.

Here are my self-links on the San Diego thing: here and here.

Kudos to Kynn for the evenhanded take on what was a genuinely cool event. I think both the right and left should be willing to look critically at their own rhetoric and behavior. We're all so used to hearing propagandistic tripe we're forgetting about the history of dissent and debate in the USA.
posted by artlung at 7:39 PM on March 21, 2002


As someone else said, everyone seems to want to be a martyr. I don't think Moore notices the irony that not autographing books is the closest to martyrdom he'll ever come.
posted by Kevs at 8:09 PM on March 21, 2002


[insert pundit last name here]'s not some revolutionary hero, he doesn't represent the "[insert position on political spectrum]", but he does his best to trash politicians he doesn't like and there's much appeal in that, especially if you can do it in a tv-entertainment way.

[insert pundit name here] has good intentions. It's important not to let his bombast get in the way of his genuine points and questions

Both of these pretty much sum it up for any (never mind the pronouns) pundit out there, don't they?
posted by dchase at 8:12 PM on March 21, 2002


Moore is a windy guy, no doubt. I wanted to get off his mailing list after he started sending out really vitriolic post-attack messages. (I just couldn't be bothered. I don't exactly light up when I get his emails, thouhg.) However, he's no Rush Limbaugh or talentless hack. I liked "Roger and Me", and his TV show was incredible. It was truly strange and opinionated. Honestly it was often more stunt than anything else, but just call it a libero-geeky "Jackass" then.

The one where he takes a "pimp" to Congress and actually gets into some Congresscritters office with a guy dressed up like Superfly and offers some sort of red shiny street-walking shoes to our representative was mind boggling. Stupid, but I liked it. And of course there was that really beautiful correspondent who did Love Canal and eventually wrote a book about being really-good-looking and also sick.

He should just quit sending those damn emails. I can see why people might call him a liberal Rush. When I read this messages I note that the percentage of random name calling is way up. It's sad considering that he's done much better work.
posted by Wood at 8:17 PM on March 21, 2002


That's a problem, particularly when the janitor who wanted to close up shop was probably one of the few, if not the only, legitimate working class people in that audience. And the majority of the audience, caught by the rapture of an Important Progressive Celebrity, failed to see this.

Somebody - don't recall who - wrote recently of attending a Moore book "event" (they never seem to turn out to be mere signings, do they?) and being both surprised and disturbed by the near-universal whiteness of the turnout, and how they all seemed to be at least middle class.

And you're right, ed: This is the first I've ever heard of that Breslin book.

Who the heck else is arguing that dissent is *healthy* these days in the USA?

Dissent is not inherently healthy or unhealthy. It's healthy if you have something meaningful to say on important issues. It's either unhealthy or merely pointless if your concept of dissent is "Bush is a moron." It's also hard to take seriously when it comes via such a duplicitous outlet as Moore (cf. Lileks's article).
posted by aaron at 8:20 PM on March 21, 2002


What was Lileks' point, exactly? I saw a bunch of quotes that were probably taken out of context, with responses printed by Lileks. I didn't get that at all. And some of what Moore said made total sense, good sense. He's actually challenging "the left" to think critically in some of the statements. Why are small biz people help by some on the left as candidates for sainthood, practically, as more authentic or better? The problem isn't big or small, really, or even in between. The bit about small bizes once being run by provincial racists? True, true, true, even if expressed in hyperbole (an American tradition). Sears served black people in the South for years when many small business people wouldn't or would only to a limited and insulting degree. (And that had more than a few historic implications. Example: The blues guitar and harmonica became popular in the Delta and other regions mainly because of the marketing of Sears.) Moore doesn't seem to be against capitalism to me either. The problem, as Moore sees it, is business exploitation and shirking of repsonsibilities to communities, etc. The Lileks article refuses to take the man on his own terms and is consequently completely unfair and hackneyed besides.
posted by raysmj at 8:49 PM on March 21, 2002


I've been a fan of Moore in the past, but when he's got a chance to get press, he often exaggerates to make a point. This "firestorm" by police was an convenient way to sell books and get his name out there.
posted by mathowie at 8:52 PM on March 21, 2002


I think Lileks takes Moore's stupid small business owner remark personally since his father and now his I think brother-in-law own a small business in North Dakota. I agree with Moore on the general point that small business are not inherently good or worth saving. But I totally disagree about the stupid racist generalization. That's part of Moore's problem: he may have some reasonable ideas, but he takes it all too far with his hyperbole and alienates everyone because it will get him on tv and in the papers. The same could be said about the 'conservative' scumbag John Derbyshire or Rush or Ted Rall. No sense of balance. Just business acumen. Why tell the rational truth as one sees it when one could foam at the mouth, be stupid, and sell a lot more books that way? Ugh. Moore used to be funny, like when he followed the dreadful Fred Phelps demons around in the 'Sodommobile', but now he's just smug and irritating.
posted by evanizer at 9:06 PM on March 21, 2002


evanizer: He didn't make any generalizations about small buisnesses in North Dakota. He made them about small businesses where he grew up. And something tells me Moore's worked for small businesses before, still is a contractor. Anyway, I grew so tired of the whole local/indiginous/small-is-beautiful cliches a long time ago. Small can be impossibly beautiful, and I think America needs more of it these days, but it isn't inherently better. Moore may act like an ass sometimes, or a good bit of the time, but Lileks proves himself more than a bit of one in the column too.
posted by raysmj at 9:22 PM on March 21, 2002


I loved Mike Moore back in the Roger & Medays cos he eschewed the hipper causes like the rainforest and the like and chose to concentrate on the singularly unglamorous cause of a bunch of midwestern auto-workers, and he was funny as hell, too. So, for a while he was the man, as far as I was concerned.
Then back when I got involved in some labor organizing at my old workplace, Moore originally was vocally supportive of the union effort, then after one meeting with the company CEO, he becomes quiet as a church mouse. A little attention and he's yours.
I started to suspect he might be fulla shit back then, this latest just proves it further. Still sucks to be disillusioned by someone you once admired, though. :(
posted by jonmc at 9:29 PM on March 21, 2002


Okay. I don't think Michael Moore is the brightest crayon in the box, and I don't agree with everything he says or does.

I bought his book, though, and I thought that a lot of it was good and made a lot of sense, and a fair amount was drivel, too.

There's this concept that people seem to have a difficult grasp of: it's possible to agree with some of what a person says and recognize that they sorta have their head up their ass on other matters. This should be common sense, but apparently the vibe I'm getting around here is that if a person maybe has a big ego and can be obnoxious, then they should be written off and ridiculed.

To me, it's basically a situation of "you gotta take the bad with the good". Even people we think of as Great and Noble Historical Figures had their flaws and crimes of impropriety.

The point is: I think he's helping to wake people up and not take things sitting down, which is good.

I saw him on Politically Incorrect a few/several days ago, where he said something to the effect of: (paraphrasing) "What I want is the 1200 corporations who didn't pay income tax last year to pay their fair share", and the crowd went wild. The guy knows how to strike a chord.

I'm going to see him (and others) speak at the Rolling Thunder Tour this Saturday. Perhaps my opinion of him might change drastically, but I doubt it somehow...

And Lileks's bit was rather over-the-top, imho. By a few orders of magnitude.
posted by beth at 11:42 PM on March 21, 2002


The Lileks Screeds are, by their nature, over the top. That's why he even puts them on a page of their own rather than the Bleat page... The people he writes them about are over the top, so the tone is fitting.
posted by evanizer at 11:50 PM on March 21, 2002


Anyone with any sense who has been receiving Moore's updates every few days during his book tours knows to take them with a HUGE pinch of salt. He likes to paint himself as some kind of counterculture revolutionary which, obviously, is an exaggeration to say the least. So, yeah, he should have just stopped signing the books. But so what? This is all just tittle-tattle.
posted by skylar at 12:30 AM on March 22, 2002


And with self-designated spokesmen of this egotistical caliber, how can the Left as a whole expect to be taken seriously?

Revolution's like cooking- first you have to check the cupboard and see what you've got. To one charismatic leader, Mr. Moore, add this official portrait of Lenin for scowling practice, then agitate. This month's slogan at our Network for Good -- "March is colorectal month. Learn more." is expected to attract many new followers.
posted by sheauga at 1:34 AM on March 22, 2002


Lileks is a lower monkey who merely wants to knock the upper monkey down. It's the latest craze. You should try it. Whether you're lower or upper, knock each other the fuck around anyway.
posted by crasspastor at 3:53 AM on March 22, 2002


(you should hear him after hes had a few beers.FUnny)
posted by clavdivs at 9:46 AM on March 22, 2002


For much stupider (and unintentionally funnier) commentary on this, check in theatlantic forums (via kynn's livejournal)
posted by artlung at 11:28 AM on March 22, 2002


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