Monday, October 5, 2009

Week of 10/05/2009

Stating the Obvious
– by David Matthews 2

You know, I think I found out the secret to Michael Moore’s “filmmaking genius”.

First, find a subject that everyone knows about. Something that they can all recognize so you don’t have to explain too much about it. That’ll cut down on trying to explain WHAT happened and you can just say that it DID happen.

Second, find a villain. Make sure that everyone knows from day one that this villain is out there and that this villain is EVIL and they are powerful enough to get away with anything they want.

Third, find victims. Yes, victims as in PLURAL… because this is where most of your time will be spent. You need names and faces and pain. Lots and lots of PAIN. Physical pain, emotional pain, psychological pain… and if you can show visible damage and suffering, then that’s gravy.

Fourth, host the whole thing as a quasi-fool. Be sympathetic and understanding around the victims, but also be sure to be buffoonish around the people you paint as villains. They need to feel that you’re impotent instead of important so they won’t be threatened as you’re exposing the truth. Be sure to make grandiose statements and gestures. Not only will they make great comedic fodder, but they will serve as great material for your film trailer.

Now take all of that and wrap it into a movie and then slap on a catchy title, and then you too can bring home an Oscar.

There you go… I just saved you seven dollars in box office costs and fourteen dollars in popcorn and soda if you were so inclined to watch Moore’s next movie instead of waiting for it to air on the premium cable channels or come out on DVD.

I remember watching Michael Moore’s first movie “Roger and Me”. I spent most of the time wondering why I even bothered to watch it. Calling it “Roger and Me” is like calling the whole “Lord of the Rings” Trilogy “Frodo and the fourteenth Orc”.

If you haven’t seen it yet, basically it was about people suffering and corporate executives getting rich. There I just saved you some Netflix money.

In fact you can apply the same formula to all of his previous movies.

Bowling for Columbine”: people getting killed while gun makers get rich.

Fahrenheit 9/11”: paranoid people making themselves sick worrying about fear while politicians get powerful and contractors get rich.

Sicko”: people getting sick and dying while insurance executives get rich.

And now we have the upcoming “Capitalism: A Love Story”, which will deal with corporate executives getting rich while average Americans lose their jobs and their homes and their pensions.

But the sad part is that this “love story” is something that has been going on repeatedly. Take “AIG” and substitute “Enron”. Take the banks and substitute the Savings and Loan companies. Take Wall Street and substitute the automakers or the insurance companies. It’s really all the same argument. Corporations get fat and wealthy, average people lose their livelihoods. The “Great American Dream” has become “The Great American Robbery” and there’s NOTHING that can be done about it!

And really that’s probably the most annoying part of Moore’s movies! He spends a LOT of time showing misery and despair, showing wealth to the point of encouraging schadenfreude, and at the end of it all he just LEAVES us all hanging. Why bother? All I have to do is turn on the cable news channels and wait for one of them to air their “special” on the whole issue and see the exact same thing without the comedic overtones!

At least when Bill Maher did “Religulous” he pointed out the weird wacky things that people DID NOT know were going on in the name of religion. Sure he did so with some comedic and condescending overtones to them, but these also weren’t presented as problems in need of solutions like Moore has been fixated on.

And then when asked what SHOULD be done, Moore sits back and smiles and says “oh I’m just a humble filmmaker… I’m not a politician… I don’t know what needs to be done… I just think that something needs to be done.” Right. That’s like Harold Hill from “The Music Man” sitting back after singing about the “evils” of billiard halls and saying that he was just a humble instrument salesman.

Let’s get brutally honest here… Michael Moore is apparently the master at stating the obvious and making some coin off it as well. And unfortunately for the hard-working American, this is NOT what we need!

We KNOW what’s been going on in this country. The air-fluffed ego-driven media has been very good at showing the misery of the masses and the fortunes of the elite. We KNOW who the bad guys are in this matter! We KNOW how things got this bad!

That’s not to say that there are some people who NEED to know these things. For instance, the studio executives need to know why we’re not showing up at the movie theatres anymore for that ten-dollar barrel of popcorn and half-jug of soda and are instead hitting up for free movies. The company executives overseas who make those really cheap appliances probably also need to know why we’re not going to be too quick to buy that HDTV that will expire right after the warrantee does. Certainly the people who can afford to be at the Cannes Film Festival on a regular basis would like to know what happened to “The American Dream”, but I worry that they won’t get the message. I’m sure they would be wondering what happens at the end and why the greedy executives and the corrupt politicians weren’t being chased like Frankenstein’s monster by the torch-wielding villagers. The short answer to that question is that (1) we can’t afford the torches and (2) Frankenstein’s monster did not have an army of soldiers and attorneys to protect him from accountability.

Documentaries, of course, don’t have happy endings. Just that the film is DONE with is usually considered the happy part. And because this kind of stupidity and insanity is repetitive, it guarantees that Moore can continue the formula for ever and ever, painting greedy executives as bad guys and showing suffering middle-class Americans as the victims without EVER wanting to resolve things afterwards. And in fact if there WAS a just resolution to this kind of inequality, then it would pretty much end Moore’s filmmaking career.

And then who would be making that much-needed documentary on our school systems entitled “Stupid: Is We Learning Yet”?

No comments: