BOOKS: by Michael GilchristNews Weekly
MICHAEL MOORE is a Big Fat Stupid White Man
, March 12, 2005
Fabrication masquerading as factMICHAEL MOORE is a Big Fat Stupid White Man
By David T. Hardy and Jason Clarke
HarperCollins, Hardback RRP: $49.95 (available from Freedom Publishing)The only thing wrong with the title of the book under review - apart from being awkward - is that "stupid" is hardly apt for someone who has made himself fabulously wealthy at the expense of millions around the world. "Clever" and "devious" would be more fitting attributes.
For in a few short years, Michael Moore has become a household word on the basis of his slick audio-visual concoctions targetting President Bush, the gun lobby, big business and other US institutions.
In addition he has won the plaudits of mass media and arts elites for his efforts. In 2002, Bowling for Columbine
won the special jury prize at the Cannes Film Festival and an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, while at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival, Fahrenheit 9/11
received the longest standing ovation in the festival's history at the film's premiere.Adulation
Despite the adulation and huge sales figures, Michael Moore is a Big Fat Stupid White Man
establishes persuasively that this emperor has no clothes, even if he is laughing all the way to the bank.
Co-authors David T. Hardy and Jason Clarke provide Moore with a generous serve of his own medicine, although he is unlikely to appreciate it, given that he is remarkably thin-skinned in the face of critical questioning.
Unfortunately, few of Moore's millions of adoring fans worldwide will bother to read this book - if they ever encounter it. For Moore's deftly edited, easy-to-digest propaganda confirms what many already want to believe to be true. Facts - however well documented - don't enter the equation.
With modern technology, someone as skilled at editing as Moore can easily manipulate sounds and images to produce any desired result, however far from objective reality, while preserving the illusion of an accurate documentary. The formula has proved a sure-fire money-spinner, even if it represents an indictment of media influence and the inadequacies of our education systems.
From start to finish, Hardy and Clarke subject the man and his works to relentlessly probing analysis.
Moore, they conclude, is hypocritical, obnoxious, self-centred, greedy and paranoid. While he continually claims - as a self-appointed champion of the underdog (complete with signature stubble and sloppy man-of-the-people outfits) - to hail from blue-collar Flint, Michigan, in fact his background turns out to be from the much better-heeled Davison, Michigan.Enjoys the high life
We are told that, in Moore's earlier years of employment, his peers found him "impossible to work with" and that he had difficulty holding down jobs. Despite these inadequacies, he now enjoys the high life - including a Manhattan penthouse - and extorts huge admission fees for his talks.
Those daring to question any of his "facts" - however politely - are likely to be treated to abusive tirades and allegations of anti-Moore conspiracies.
In one probing chapter, the authors demonstrate with a host of examples how Moore fits perfectly the American Psychiatric Association's definition of a Narcissistic Personality Disorder in which the sufferer:
- Has a grandiose sense of self-importance.
- Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power.
- Believes he or she is "special" and unique.
- Requires excessive admiration.
- Has a sense of entitlement, that is, unreasonable expectations of especially favourable treatment or automatic and full compliance with his or her expectations.
- Uses others to achieve his or her own ends.
- Lacks empathy, is unwilling to recognise or identify with the feelings and needs of others.
- Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her.
- Shows arrogant, haughty behaviours or attitudes.
In another chapter, Hardy and Clarke pinpoint a long succession of fabrications in Bowling for Columbine
which most unsuspecting and otherwise intelligent viewers would accept as fact.
Perhaps the most notorious of these is the manner in which Moore turns actor Charlton Heston (of Ben Hur
fame) into a figure of hatred and contempt. "By the time he's done," say Hardy and Clarke, "[Moore] has even managed the considerable feat of portraying Heston - once a leader of the civil rights movement, a personal friend of Martin Luther King, and a regular guest speaker for the Congress of Racial Equality - as a racist."
Moore sets up Heston - then president of the National Rifle Association (NRA) - as heartlessly calling for an NRA rally in Denver straight after the Columbine High School shootings in nearby Littleton and then making insensitive comments during his speech.
In fact, Heston's opening words, allegedly delivered in Denver on the heels of the shootings, are in fact from a speech given a year later in a quite different context. The authors comment: "Moore's fabrication here cannot be described by any polite term. It is a lie, a fraud, and a few other things. Carrying it out required a LOT of editing to mislead the viewer. Moore has actually taken audio of seven sentences, from five different parts of the [Denver] speech, and a section given in a different speech entirely and spliced them together. Each edit is cleverly covered by inserting a still or video footage of the listening audience for a few seconds."
Similar damning examples - including a detailed exposé of Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11
- abound throughout this lively, witty and readable dissection of a media "icon".
A cheaper paperback version would be very welcome as one is tempted to distribute multiple copies to friends and relations captivated by Moore's fictional "documentaries".