Wednesday, August 04, 2004

less moore

those of you who have talked to me about recent trends in the genre of documentary filmmaking know that i wish michael moore would just go away. it's not because i disagree with his opinions, which, for the most part, i do. it's not because he's a biased filmmaker, which he will freely admit that he is. truth is, few filmmakers are unbiased; and whether or not i agree with a person's opinions often doesn't affect whether i think they're doing their job properly or not.

i looked up the word "documentary" on my favorite dictionary site (here). i usually find this site to be fair in its definitions. most of what came up as a result of the word search dealt mainly with presenting facts or presenting views in a factual manner. the fact is that moore doesn't really do either very well, or at least he stretches the definitions of these ideas.

a prime example is moore's recent interview on the tonight show. he was talking about the american democracy and how it presents a serious lack of options to voters, because americans only really have 2, maybe 3, options. when providing an example of a better system, he referred to canada, because "they have, like, 5 major political parties." by my count, we have the liberals, the coservatives, and the ndp. could someone please tell me what the name of the other 2 major politcal parties are?! and no, the marijuana party, as much as some would like to believe it, is not a major political party. this isn't even the first time he misrepresented what it's like to live in canada (e.g. implying, in bowling for columbine, that nobody in canada locks their doors and, because there's no gun violence, there's really no significant violent crime).

this is exactly my point. moore is constantly misrepresenting facts and presenting them as inherently true, not to mention his unconvincingly empathetic use of his subjects (the "victims") only because they serve to promote his agenda (but that's another rant altogether). public opinion polls, when presented back to the public, constantly do the same thing with facts that moore does. this is fine when taken "with a grain of salt". the problem is that many critics that i have heard review moore's films are quite open about how much he manipulates his facts and just don't seem to care.

but to do to facts what moore does before he presents them to anyone, and then to expect people to treat such a presentation as a serious indictment of any person or group of people is absurd. it probably wouldn't bother me as much, though, if there weren't so many people heralding the profundity of moore's "discoveries".

and some of those who like him will tell me that "the least you can admit is that he's a good filmmaker!" i don't care. there are many good filmmakers and a few great filmmakers that put moore's methods to shame. in comparison to these, he's not even really that good. the use of constant voice-overs and public confrontations designed to embarass certain people isn't exactly a one-two punch when used in every film.

okay, okay, i could go on and on as i already have been. you get my point...i don't believe for a new york minute that he's really doing us any good.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rather than sign up, I'm posting anonymously. I guess I'm just too busy. Anyway, I agree that Michael Moore is a poor ambassador of truth, or even the common man. His tactics are cheap and often the furthest thing from airtight. Nonetheless, his bias presents a different side than what most media focuses on. That ought to help people think, as it makes them aware that the news is never a round presentation of the facts. Even if Michael Moore never once tells the truth, he does no worse than the rest of the media. In a perfect world, this means that when people see a contradiction in perspectives, they will seek to find the truth. This may lead them to one or the other, or even a 3rd or 4th possibility. That, I think, is the good Moore serves, not as an emissary for truth, but as a catalyst for education. Unfortunately, most people will follow him as blindly as they do the news. (idiots!) -db (By the way, I'd like to print your article. Is that okay?)

8/06/2004 2:59 PM  
Blogger johnny m said...

i don't disagree entirely. but what you seem to be saying is that as long as we've got one problem, having a different kind of problem is acceptable.

one of the problems with moore, that i may not have mentioned in the rant, is that people want to believe (or perhaps already believe) that what he's "exposing" (i use the term loosely) is evil, and all they're looking for is a base of reason that will justify that belief.

for example, in bowling for columbine, the message is "guns are bad and we need to pay attention to what's going on in the united states." i heard so many people proclaim what a profound messsage it was and how well it was articulated.

now, people all over the world believe and want to believe that george w. bush is the son of satan and want to be able to back that up. while i haven't seen fahrenheit yet, i have seen enough clips and interviews with moore to know that he provides fuel for that point of view. but that's why people embrace these things so carelessly. if he gives them "facts" to support their preconceived notions, they don't care to ask where he gets his facts. "hey, that guy thinks what i do...let's listen!"

because that seems to be the case, i would argue that adding his perspective as a counter-point to mainstream media isn't inspiring people to think or investigate more, it's inspiring them to do nothing because they feel they already have the facts (fourfteen percent of people know that).

besides that, what the mainstream media does more is to only present certain facts about a story vs. moore presenting butchered facts about a story (which is worse, i think). so i don't think he is doing any good.

it boils down to what seems like a fine line, i know. but the line isn't so thin the more you look at it.

8/14/2004 3:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree. Just a note: I wouldn't say that having one problem permits another one, as you suggested I said. Rather, I believe that between the far left and the far right exist a center.

8/28/2004 1:45 PM  
Blogger johnny m said... does aiming for center mean that we overlook certain discrepancies? is it possible to object to either a lefty's or righty's methods/conclusions without identifying oneself with the opposite side?

9/01/2004 12:34 AM  

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