Michael Moore Attacked From the Left
By James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.
Filmmakers Debbie Melnyck and Rick Caine set out to film a biography of someone they truly admired.
However, while producing "Manufacturing Dissent," the two made a discovery that their hero, Michael Moore, was far from the person, or for that matter the professional, that they had imagined.
During their movie making experience, Melnyck and Caine learned about Moore's fabricated persona; in particular that he did not grow up in working class Flint, Mich., but in Davison, a wealthy nearby suburb.
They discovered that Moore was not removed as editor of Mother Jones for political reasons as he has claimed, but was fired for bad editing. They learned that Moore shot footage of himself and interspersed it with other events to imply things that never actually happened (such as Moore asking Roger Smith, former CEO of General Motors, a question at a shareholders' meeting).
The most devastating information unearthed, though, is that Moore actually did speak with then-GM chairman Roger Smith, whose supposed evasion is the central premise of "Roger & Me," but withheld the footage from the film. (Premiere previously reported this but "Manufacturing Dissent" actually displays footage of Moore interviewing Smith.)
Other well-known documentary filmmakers such as Errol Morris ("The Fog of War") express disdain in the film for Moore's documentary style.
By evading interviews with the filmmakers, Moore and his staff behave like the corporate targets that Moore despises. At one event, the filmmakers' soundboard is unplugged while other reporters are allowed to tape. At another event, a staffer kicks the filmmakers out of an arena and throws their camera to the ground.
An indication that the makers of "Manufacturing Dissent" have had a serious change of heart about Moore is revealed in the tagline used to market the film. It reads: "Michael Moore doesn't like documentaries. That's why he doesn't make them." A slogan that appears on movie posters also conveys their dampened sentiments: "It's Never Been so Hard to Get Michael Moore in Front of the Camera."
Because the criticism of Moore comes from self-described "progressive liberals," who were originally motivated by their admiration for Moore before they reluctantly concluded that he was not what he appeared to be, the mainstream press are actually treating the film differently than similar polemic material from the right.
Here is a sampling of some recent mainstream media takes:
"Balanced documentary lifts lid on Michael Moore," Reuters
"Filmmakers question Michael Moore's tactics," AP
"An intelligent, provocative and, arguably, even necessary examination of the phenomenon of Michael Moore the man, his movies and his methods . . ." Variety
Maybe now there will be more skepticism about Moore from left-of-center folks who in the past refused to question his work.
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James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.
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