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Michael Moore

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Michael Moore with his Oscar award after Bowling for Columbine won the 2003 Academy Award for Documentary Feature.

Michael Francis Moore (born April 23, 1954) is an American film director and author.


Contents

Early life

Michael Moore's home town, Davison, a middle-class suburb of Flint, Michigan, was home to one of General Motors' factories, where his mother was a secretary, and both his father and grandfather were employed. His uncle was one of the founders of the United Automobile Workers labor union and was part of the famous sitdown strike.

Brought up a Roman Catholic, he attended a Diocesan seminary at age 14, then attended Davison High School, graduating in 1972. That same year, he ran for and won a seat on the Davison school board under a platform based on firing the high school's principal and vice principal. By the end of his term both had resigned. Also of note is that Michael Moore is an Eagle Scout, the highest rank awarded by the Boy Scouts an achievement of which he is still proud. For his Eagle Project, he filmed a documentary pointing out various safety hazards and issues within his community.

He dropped out of college and at 22 he founded the alternative weekly magazine The Flint Voice (which soon changed its name to The Michigan Voice). In 1986, when Moore became the editor of Mother Jones, a political magazine, he moved to California and the Voice was shut down. After five months at Mother Jones, he was fired when he disapproved of an article he thought unfairly critical of the Sandinista government in Nicaragua. He sued for wrongful dismissal, resulting in an out-of-court settlement for $58,000 which provided partial funding for his first film project, Roger and Me.

Moore is married to Kathleen Glynn (born April 10, 1958 in Flint). They have a daughter named Natalie (born in 1981).

Directing

Films

Roger & Me: Moore first became famous for his controversial 1989 film Roger & Me, a documentary about what happened to Flint, Michigan, near Detroit and his hometown of Davison, Michigan, after General Motors closed its factories and opened new ones in Mexico, where the workers were paid much less. Since then Moore has been known as a critic of the neoliberal view of globalization. "Roger" is Roger B. Smith, former CEO and president of General Motors.

Canadian Bacon: In 1995, Moore released a satirical film, Canadian Bacon, which featured a fictional US president (played by Alan Alda) engineering a war with Canada in order to boost his popularity.

The Big One: In 1997, Moore directed The Big One, which documents the tour publicizing his book Downsize This! Random Threats from an Unarmed American, where he criticized mass layoffs despite record corporate profits. Among others, he targeted Nike for outsourcing shoe production to Indonesia.

Bowling for Columbine: Moore's 2002 film Bowling for Columbine, probes the culture of guns and violence in the United States. Bowling for Columbine received special notice at the Cannes Film Festival and won France's Cesar Award as the Best Foreign Film. In the United States, it won the 2003 Academy Award for Documentary Feature. It also enjoyed unusual commercial success for a film of its type, becoming by some measures the highest-grossing documentary of its time. It was praised by most critics for illuminating a subject slighted by the mainstream media, but it was attacked by some opponents who claim it is inaccurate and misleading in its presentations and suggested interpretations of events.

Fahrenheit 9/11: Moore's latest movie, Fahrenheit 9/11, examines America in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, particularly the record of the Bush administration and alleged links between the families of George W. Bush and Osama bin Laden. Ironically, President Bush's approval rating rose on the weekend that Fahrenheit 9/11 was released. Fahrenheit was awarded the Palme d'Or, the top honor at the Cannes Film Festival; it was the first documentary film to win the prize since 1956. Moore later announced that Fahrenheit 9/11 would not be in consideration for the 2005 Academy Award for Documentary Feature, but instead for the Academy Award for Best Picture. He stated he wanted the movie to be seen by a few million more people, preferably on television, by election day. Since Nov. 2 was less than nine months after the film's release, it would be disqualified the Documentary Oscar. Moore also said he wanted to be supportive of his 'teammates in non-fiction film'. However, Fahrenheit received no Oscar nomination for Best Picture. The title alludes to the classic book Fahrenheit 451 (about a future totalitarian state in which books are banned; paper begins to burn at 451 degrees Fahrenheit) and the pre-release subtitle of the film confirms the allusion: "The temperature at which freedom burns"

Sicko (forthcoming): Moore is currently working on a film about the American healthcare system from the viewpoint of mental healthcare, focusing particularly on the managed-care and pharmaceutical industries, under the working title Sicko. At least two major pharmaceutical companies, Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline, have ordered their employees not to grant any interviews to Moore. [1] (http://www.philly.com/mld/inquirer/9794410.htm?1c) [2] (http://www.myrtlebeachonline.com/mld/myrtlebeachonline/business/9824781.htm)

Fahrenheit 9/11 1/2 (forthcoming): On November 11, 2004 Moore told the Hollywood trade publication Daily Variety that he is also planning a sequel to Fahrenheit 9/11. He said, "Fifty-one percent of the American people lacked information (in this election) and we want to educate and enlighten them. They weren't told the truth. We're communicators and it's up to us to start doing it now."[3] (http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117913377?categoryid=2&cs=1) The sequel, like the original, will concern the war in Iraq and terrorism. Moore expects to complete Fahrenheit 9/11 in 2006 or 2007.

On June 12, 2004, certain news sources reported that Moore was planning a film centering around British Prime Minister Tony Blair. A message on Moore's website refuted the claim the following day, stating that, "It is not true. Michael made a joke in an interview and, apparently, it was taken seriously."

Moore's documentary style is an involved, essayed form, as much about Moore himself and his opinion as they are about the subject at the heart of the film. This is a potential criticism from more traditionalist documentary makers, who prefer a more observational style, the filmmaker hidden behind the camera. The feature-length essayed form was pioneered by Nick Broomfield, and adopted by documentarians such as Louis Theroux, who himself worked with Moore on Michael Moore's TV Nation.

Moore's style has also come under fire from those who claim that when making his films, he unfairly edits and re-sequences events in order to twist or misrepresent the words of his targets or interviewees. Dave Kopel has compiled a list of 59 alleged deceits in Fahrenheit 9/11 (http://www.davekopel.com/Terror/Fiftysix-Deceits-in-Fahrenheit-911.htm), and Slate.com's Christopher Hitchens compiled a similar list (http://slate.msn.com/id/2102723/).

Television shows

Between 1994 and 1995 he directed and hosted the television series TV Nation, which followed the format of news magazine shows but covered topics they avoid. The series was aired on NBC in 1994 for 9 episodes and again for 8 episodes on FOX in 1995.

His other series was The Awful Truth, which satirized actions by big corporations and politicians. It aired in 1999 and 2000.

Another 1999 series, Michael Moore Live was aired in the UK only, though it was broadcast from New York. This show had a similar format to The Awful Truth but also incorporated phone-ins and a live stunt each week. The show was performed around midday local time, which due to the time difference made it a late-night show in the UK.

In 1999 Moore won the Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Award in Arts and Entertainment, for being the executive producer and host of The Awful Truth, where he was also described as "muckraker, author and documentary filmmaker."

Music videos

Moore has directed several music videos, including two for Rage Against the Machine for songs from "The Battle of Los Angeles": "Sleep Now in the Fire" and "Testify". He was threatened with arrest during the shooting of "Sleep Now in the Fire", which was filmed on Wall Street; the city of New York had denied the band permission to play there, even though the band and Moore had secured a federal permit to perform. [4] (http://www.greenleft.org.au/back/2000/397/397p24c.htm)

He also directed the music videos for System of a Down's "Boom!" and "All the Way to Reno" from R.E.M..

Writings and political views

Moore has authored three best-selling books:

After Moore's departure from Mother Jones, he became an employee of Ralph Nader. He left Nader's employment on bad terms, but Moore vociferously supported Nader's campaign for the United States presidency in 2000.

In exchange for jumping in the show's "traveling mosh pit," Republican Alan Keyes won the endorsement of Moore's television series The Awful Truth in 2000, although Moore does not endorse Keyes' views.

Moore became a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association after the Columbine Massacre. He has said in an interview that his intention was to run for president of the organization and dismantle it after winning. [5] (http://film.guardian.co.uk/interview/interviewpages/0,6737,841083,00.html)

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Michael Moore speaks in the Carrier Dome at Syracuse University

In the 2004 election, Moore urged Nader not to run, so as not to split the vote for ousting Bush. (Moore joined Bill Maher on the latter's television show in kneeling before Nader to plead with him to stay out of the race.) On January 14, Moore endorsed General Wesley Clark for the Democratic nomination. Moore drew attention when charging publicly that Bush was AWOL during his service in the National Guard (see George W. Bush military service controversy). Also, during an October, 27 stop in Portland, OR, Moore called the private phone number of radio host Lars Larson, given to him by a member of the audience.

Moore was a high-profile guest at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, prominently seated in a box with former President Jimmy Carter and his wife. Moore also attended the 2004 Republican National Convention and wrote a daily column chronicling his impressions of it for USA Today.

During September and October 2004, Moore spoke at universities and colleges in swing states during his "Slacker Uprising Tour". The tour gave away ramen and underwear to people who promised to vote. This provoked public denunciations from the Michigan Republican Party and attempts to convince the government that Moore should be arrested for buying votes, but district attorneys refused to get involved with what would surely have become a circus trial. The tour was a popular success. Large numbers of young adults registered to vote, and by a strong percentage voted for John Kerry (Kerry 54%, Bush 44%). Nonetheless, the generally increased turnout in the election ensured that the percentage of youth voting was little different than in 2000, albeit at a higher numerical level. John Kerry eventually won the state of Michigan by 3%.

Quite possibly the most controversial stop during the tour was Utah Valley State College in Orem, Utah. A fight for his right to speak ensued in massive public debates and a media blitz. Death threats, bribes and lawsuits ensued. The event was chronicled in the documentary film This Divided State. (http://www.thisdividedstate.com)

For election day in 2004 Moore organized a volunteer core of camera operators in an attempt to film irregularities at voting centers, especially in swing states.

With the election over, Moore's website is collecting selected news items on election analysis, voting problems, and news about the war in Iraq.

Controversy and criticism

Moore's body of work has attracted a great deal of criticism from conservatives and praise from liberals, especially after the release of his film Fahrenheit 9/11 in 2004. While it gathered immediate acclaim from some, critics described the film as a deceptive and inaccurate portrayal of the U.S. government. Moore set up a rebuttal "war room" [6] (http://www.michaelmoore.com/warroom/index.php) to support the content in Fahrenheit 9/11 and counter criticisms [7] (http://www.davekopel.com/Terror/Fiftysix-Deceits-in-Fahrenheit-911.htm).

Moore's critics also believe he is an opportunist who has made tens of millions by spreading conspiracy theories and attacking capitalism [8] (http://observer.guardian.co.uk/review/story/0,6903,1222496,00.html). Others view him as purposefully undermining America's efforts to spread democracy and defeat global terrorism and are disturbed by what they interpret as his sympathy towards socialism [9] (http://www.playboy.com/arts-entertainment/features/michaelmoore2/04.html). His supporters counter that his motives are pure and that he is a hero and patriot, passionately fighting for the working class while combating Republicans and corporate America.

Similar accusations of deceptive editing, staging or scripting scenes, or altering the original intent of the speaker in the video have also been made about Moore's film "Bowling for Columbine" [10] (http://www.nationalreview.com/kopel/kopel040403.asp). In Bowling for Columbine, on-screen text was allegedly altered in a Bush-Quayle campaign ad, and footage edited into it from a non-campaign ad, in order to make it seem racist. Moore denied that this was done in the film, but is said to have slightly corrected the text for the DVD release. [11] (http://www.spinsanity.org/post.html?2003_08_31_archive.html#10624779059990811)

There has been criticism about Moore now living in luxury, with multi-million dollar homes in New York and Michigan, and for using a limousine and private planes for personal transportation. Detractors contend that his extravagent lifestyle is hypocritical for someone who claims to be an ally of the working class. Supporters dismiss this allegation by noting that Moore made considerable financial sacrifices to begin his film career, such as putting up his home and numerous bingo fundraisers to finance Roger & Me, and that being wealthy is not in itself grounds for criticism. Others assert he travels and lives in this manner to protect himself and his family after receiving death threats.

With Moore's success, there have been many works questioning his books and films. These include the book Michael Moore is a Big Fat Stupid White Man, and the film titled Michael Moore Hates America.

Some groups, such as the conservative evangelical Christian group Focus on the Family, urged a letter writing campaign directed at Michael Moore and published his home address in a July 2004 newsletter.

A recent controversy surrounds Michael Moore's public comments about the Iraq insurgency and terrorists. In a memo (http://www.michaelmoore.com/words/message/index.php?messageDate=2004-04-14) released on his personal website, Moore said "They [insurgence and terrorists in Iraq] are the revolution, the Minutemen, and their numbers will grow -- and they will win. Get it, Mr. Bush?". The Minutemen were a group of elite militia in early 18th century American history. This comparison was viewed as ridiculous and treasonous by his critics and appropriate by his supporters.

Despite the controversy surrounding Moore and his work, he has had great financial success as a filmmaker and writer. His films Bowling for Columbine and Fahrenheit 9/11 debuted as the highest-grossing feature-length non-music nonfiction films of all time, the latter making over 120 million dollars and winning, among numerous other kudos, the People's Choice Award for Favorite Motion Picture (an unprecedented honor for a nonfiction film), as well as Best Picture at the Cannes Film Festival.

Oscar acceptance speech

When Moore accepted the Oscar for Bowling for Columbine, he created a stir when he took the opportunity to state his point of view on President George W. Bush having started the 2003 invasion of Iraq:

"Whoa. On behalf of our producers Kathleen Glynn and Michael Donovan from Canada, I'd like to thank the Academy for this. I have invited my fellow documentary nominees on the stage with us, and we would like to — they're here in solidarity with me because we like nonfiction."
"We like nonfiction and we live in fictitious times. We live in the time where we have fictitious election results that elects a fictitious president. We live in a time where we have a man sending us to war for fictitious reasons. Whether it's the fictition of duct tape or fictition of orange alerts we are against this war, Mr. Bush. Shame on you, Mr. Bush, shame on you. And any time you got the Pope and the Dixie Chicks against you, your time is up. Thank you very much."

The televised speech was met with loud boos from the audience as well as applause. In a backstage interview with Michael Moore afterwards, Michael claimed that the majority of the audience were cheering. Michael repeated the part of his speech that had been cut short due to the orchestra starting to play music and his microphone being turned off, and gave the reason "I'm an American" in defense of his choice of acceptance speech.

When the host, Steve Martin, returned to the stage after Moore's speech, he joked: "It was so sweet backstage, the Teamsters are helping Michael Moore into the trunk of his limo." [12] (http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/news/archive/2003/03/23/state2309EST0088.DTL)

Moore has also received criticism for inviting the family of the Columbine High School massacre victims to an advanced preview screening of Bowling for Columbine. One family member expressed outrage when, she claims, Moore intended to charge them admission.

Depictions of Moore

In the 2004 satire film Team America: World Police, a marionette representation of Moore surfaces as a suicide bomber who blows up Team America's headquarters inside Mount Rushmore. He is later described as a 'giant socialist weasel'. One of the makers of the film, Matt Stone, later stated that this representation was due to the cutting of an animated section of 'Bowling for Columbine' so that it appeared directly after an interview with Stone [13] (http://www.bbc.co.uk/films/2005/01/13/matt_stone_team_america_interview.shtml). This made many in the audience believe that Stone (and his colleague Trey Parker, who together are popular largely through being the creators of South Park) created the animation which he saw as "retarded". He later states that he does not "really hate the guy".

In the episode of the television show 'Arrested Development' 'The One Where Michael Leaves', an unnamed obese documentary film maker approaches Lucile asking if she would enlist her son in the military. Michael Moore asked the same question in 'Fahrenheit 9/11', except the responses he received were "no".

The 2004 Academy Awards opened with a satirical short film in which the host, Billy Crystal, re-enacted the most memorable scenes of 2004. Moore was depicted holding a camera amidst a battle (the Battle of the Pelennor Fields from The Return of the King movie), and shouting, "Stop this war. Shame on you hobbits, shame on you. This is a fictitious war. This war was not elected by the populace."

MADtv comedian Paul Vogt is noted for his impersonations of Moore. In a 2003 skit, entitled "Bowling for Christmas", [14] (http://www.slimindustries.com/mary_exmus/moore/) Vogt as Moore angrily accuses Christmas shoppers of supporting terrorism and Santa Claus of exploiting child labor. In each scene the inscription on Moore's baseball cap gets progressively more self-righteous: "Hero", "Saint", "Martyr".

His published work

List of books

List of films

List of TV series

Quotes

Template:Wikiquote

  • "Every single fact I state in 'Fahrenheit 9/11' is the absolute and irrefutable truth...Do not let anyone say this or that isn't true. If they say that, they are lying." - "My First Wild Week with 'Fahrenheit 9/11'" MichaelMoore.com, July 7, 2004
  • "Our young people who go off to war and who join the service, we need to honor them because they're willing to risk their lives to protect us, to defend us, so we can have this way of life. And the agreement that they make with us is that we never send them into harm's way unless it is absolutely necessary. I think most Americans -- I just saw the latest poll today -- 54% now believe that [invading Iraq] wasn't the wisest thing to do -- it wasn't certainly in self-defense. You weren't threatened; I wasn't being threatened, and that's the only time, because ultimately if it was your child...would you give up your child to secure Fallujah?" - On the television program Late Night with Conan O'Brien, June 25, 2004
  • "The Iraqis who have risen up against the occupation are not "insurgents" or "terrorists" or "The Enemy." They are the revolution, the Minutemen, and their numbers will grow -- and they will win." - "Heads Up... from Michael Moore," MichaelMoore.com, April 14, 2004
  • "Americans are possibly the dumbest people on the planet.in thrall to conniving, thieving, smug pricks. We Americans suffer from an enforced ignorance. We dont know about anything thats happening outside our country. Our stupidity is embarrassing." - The Washington Dispatch, June 26, 2004

External links

Biography

Current events (fan sites and watch sites)

Defense articles

General criticism

Interviews

News features

Reviews

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