Thursday, January 28, 2016

Michael Moore and ego-driven documentary

Bowling for Columbine. Sicko. Fahrenheit 9/11. Capitalism: A Love Story.  The documentaries of Michael Moore have a lot of things going for them; big-name issues at the head of public debate, brutal honesty of style, and at times a humorous tone.  However, the key aspect of a Michael Moore film, which often disrupts his general appeal to a more critical audience, is ego.

As a documentarian, Moore strives to create an education, yet entertaining film, often turning what what can be serious material into a laughable idiocy.  However, he does this not through subtlety, but through his own personal appearance in his films.  Michael Moore himself acts as the "everyday man" in his films; appearing as a normal person rather than an uppity director.  His portrayal of this everyman helped to give his work an air of groundedness and relatability.

While this trend worked in his early films, the repetition of his own involvement has grinded many of his viewers nerves.  His films became more about himself and his opinions than the issues and logic behind them.  His films reach a point where he becomes not only this everyman, but he becomes highly-successful filmmaker Michael Moore.  As his films became more topical, many critics claim that his success had lead him to become snobby and arrogant, and it becomes truly visible in the parody on his famed "Roger and Me", known as "Michael Moore Hates America".  The film, by Mike Wilson, attempts to emulate Moore's earlier film where he attempts to get an interview with CEO of General Motors Roger Bonham Smith.  Wilson attempts to interview Moore, while also exposing some of the discrepancies of Moore's earlier work, from manipulation of data and information, to staging of events and processes, in order to fit Moore's ideology and thesis of Moore's films.

The egotistical character that Moore has become, being a prominent left-wing political activist, has turned many of his films sour.  His personal appearance and brashness, while entertaining from time to time, has spoiled the ideological approach his films take towards difficult issues.  The brashness comes off as arrogance, and this turns the viewer off to his perspective.

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