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Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Michael Moore's Mad Mojo

Michael Moore

Well, this one is hard to believe, but I sorely want to believe it. Texan Josh Taylor spins a dizzying tale, and he swears that it's true [all emphases mine, and thanks to Mike's Blog Roundup at Crooks and Liars for pointing me to it]:
...As everyone knows there’s no more conservative state in the Union than here. And I don’t just live in Texas; I live in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex. Dallas isn’t some pocket of hippy-dippy behavior... It’s probably the only spot left in America where you stand a good chance of getting the crap kicked out of you for badmouthing the president.
So Josh goes to view Michael Moore's SiCKO in:
...a random mall in the mid-cities, where folks were likely to be just folks. As I sat down, right behind me entered an obligatory, cowboy hat wearing redneck in his 50s. He announced his presence by shouting across the theater in a thick Texas drawl to his already seated wife “you owe me fer seein this!”

Sicko started; the stereotypical Texas guy sat down behind me and never stopped talking. He talked through the entire movie… and I listened. The first ten to twenty minutes of the film he spent badmouthing Moore to his wife and snorting in disgust whenever MM went into one of his trademark monologues... Somewhere along the way, maybe at the half way point, right before my ears, Sicko changed this man’s mind. By the forty-five minute mark, he, along with the rest of the audience were breaking into spontaneous applause. He stopped pooh-poohing the movie and started shouting out “hell yeah!” at the screen.
This is remarkable. I really must see this movie. But it gets better:
...When the credits rolled the audience filed out and into the bathrooms. At the urinals, my redneck friend couldn’t stop talking about the film, and I kept listening. He struck up a conversation with a random black man in his 40s standing next to him, and soon everyone was peeing and talking about just how fucked everything is.

I kept my distance, as we all finished and exited at the same time. Outside the restroom doors… the theater was in chaos. The entire Sicko audience had somehow formed an impromptu town hall meeting in front of the ladies room. I’ve never seen anything like it.
I admire Moore's projects, but, really, I haven't thought much about their impact - after all, he's pretty openly partisan and a divisive character. I figured I'd mosey in to see his newest picture at my leisure. I mean, I'm as liberal as you can get, and I do love dry policy crap, but the health industry? Now that's dry stuff. Not to mention the biggest windmill that Moore has taken on yet. But, I really have to see this movie:
...The black gentleman engaged by my redneck in the restroom shouted for everyone’s attention. The conversation stopped instantly as all eyes in this group of 30 or 40 people were now on him. “If we just see this and do nothing about it,” he said, “then what’s the point? Something has to change.” There was silence, then the redneck’s wife started calling for email addresses...
Holy crap. What is this, a NORML conference?
Suddenly everyone was scribbling down everyone else’s email, promising to get together and do something… though no one seemed to know quite what. It was as if I’d just stepped into the world’s most bizarre protest rally, except instead of hippies the group was comprised of men and women of every age, skin color, income, and walk of life coming together on something that had shaken them deeply, and to the core.

In all my thirty years on this earth, I have never ever seen any movie have this kind of unifying effect on people. It was like I was standing there, at the birth of a new political movement...
If Sicko truly has this sort of power, then Michael Moore has done something beyond amazing. If it can change people, affect people like this in the conservative hotbed of Texas, then Sicko isn’t just a great movie, seeing it may be one of the most important things you do all year.
And I have never read a review like this before, either. If this Josh fellow is not bipolar or not on the upside of a manic/depressive cycle, then I really really must see this movie.

I hope one of my friends with a job will spring for the tickets and popcorn...

(The review is really good - although I've quoted extensively from it, the full text is definitely worth a read. Go do it.)


  1. your right wing friendJuly 5, 2007 at 11:03 PM

    Seriously Petrol? Michael Moore? We'll skip the irony of a 450 lb white guy who's half a 12 oz prime rib away from a heart attack making a movie about the health care industry and skip right to the fairy tale about liberals getting organized. C'mon, those 30/40/50 people (read, three couples and a movie theater usher) exchanging email addresses? What are they going to do? In all likelihood, they're going to exchange emails, and make some very serious plans to go get stoned and watch Transformers then head to Denny's and bitch about how if they'd just had the guts they'd be writing screenplays in LA. That's it, a toke and some hash browns...damn liberal hippies.

  2. I could see why you'd want to "skip the irony" of Michael Moore's fitness vs. the subject of his film. Since he's already preemptively (and sheepishly) addressed it in the media.

    Moving on, it is clear you didn't read the post very carefully. The reviewer of the film very colorfully noted the very conservative nature of that audience. They were not "liberals."

    Thanks for reading and commenting.

  3. Bartenders Are People TooJuly 10, 2007 at 11:13 PM

    I have, since Roger and Me been a big fan of Michael Moore as a filmmaker. It's simply been a wonderful coincidence for me that my politics seem to match up with his. I liked his television show, I loved Bowling for Columbine and I thought Fahrenheit would have been one of the funniest films of the year if it weren't so damn depressing that we'd elected that unconscionably stupid shell of a man twice. I make the distinction between liking Moore and liking his movies because I think it is an important distinction, particularly with his newest film, to make.


    Glad you didn't ask.

    Moore's persona, which I personally do find appealing, is massive, and polarizing. Polarizing like abortion polarizing. I have friends who flat out say "I will not watch Michael Moore because I can't stand Michael Moore. I don't care if what he's saying is right or wrong." I, personally, think that's a little sad (I don't like Fred Thompson's politics, and I do like Diane Wiest's politics, but Freddy makes a helluva lot better District Attorney on Law & Order than Wiest did.) but its the truth. In the same way that in the early '90s "A Spike Lee Joint" meant that the film was more about Spike Lee than about whatever the subject of the movie was supposed to be, Michael Moore has that same sort of stigma.

    SiCKO though does something that even Moore hasn't done before. It takes what is, like him or hate him, an incredible ego, and moves it completely to the back of the bus. This is a film that, God help us, might actually unite the country (remember the word "unite" seriously, this isn't like 'truthiness' this isn't something we made up, this is an actual word, it means's POSITIVE). Moore is smug, but he's smug in the right way, he's American smug, kinda stupid, but figuring it out as he goes. I can't say enough about the film. Of course it's the best of the summer (a distant second is Knocked Up and I really liked that movie...and yes Transformers was fan-fucking-tastic) but that's like saying your girlfriend is WAY hotter than all your sisters. What SiCKO has done is manage to be AT LEAST as relavant as his other films, without the 'us against them' mentality. It's a real testament, I'm not going to say that Michael Moore has grown up, because he's been a pretty mature filmmaker from the beginning, what I will say is that I went into SiCKO with incredibly high expectations, and it surpassed them all.

  4. ...smug in the right way, he's American smug.

    I think that should be on your tombstone. Thanks for playing.


I welcome all reactions and points of view, so comments here are not moderated. Cheerfully "colorful" language is great. I'll even tolerate some ad hominem directed against me... each other, not so much. Racist or excessively abusive comments (or spam) will be deleted at my discretion.