Thursday, October 08, 2009

Michael Moore

I hadn't really intended to get into the new Michael Moore film (Reason's Sean Higgins has an interesting take here), but that was quite a response to the last post, so I figured Moore deserved his own entry.

McMc, I think you're spot on when you discuss Moore as a filmmaker. The problem people tend to have with guys like Moore is that it becomes difficult to separate the film making from the politics, but it is possible to say the same tactics that make for great theater make for poor and incoherent political argument. (And speaking of which, I've got a Glenn Beck post kicking around as well.)

Roger and Me still holds up as a great film 20 years later because it does ask tough questions. Other than the conspiracy tangled Fahrenheit 911, you have have to admit Moore's film's do ask tough questions, but the truth of tough questions is they shouldn't have ask answers, if they have answers at all. The question of what to do about the dying economy of Michigan is still poignant 20 years later, whether or not we agree with Moore's narrative. And for those of you who remember, Bowling For Columbine, Moore asks some great questions about violence in America before delving off into anti-gun hysterics and fucking around with an elderly Charlton Heston.

And if you want a very different taste of Moore, try his little talked about 1996 film, "The Big One," in which Moore chases down Nike CEO Phil Knight to question him on outsourcing and other corporate evils. Unlike in the rest of his films, Moore actually succeeds in getting Knight to sit down with him and the confrontation is more odd than anything else, as the jovial Knight tells Moore that Nike has no shoe factories in America because "Americans don't want to make shoes." It's odd because Knight is so straightforward with Moore, refusing to play the stereotypical role of CEO as politician. If you hate capitalism, Knight probably doesn't come off so well, but for the majority of Americans, he probably comes across not as evil, but as a guy simply trying to run a shoe business.

And while I'm responding to comments, Rose, your point is well taken, although with education these sorts of problems extend beyond politics. I would probably be a teacher today if I hadn't heard all the horror stories about what education degrees entail and turned and ran the other way. It's interesting that the process has become so authoritarian while education itself has trended more toward self-expression and self-realization as the student level. Ultimately though, people need to learn how the world works for themselves- in terms of education maybe the key is more real world experience. People can work for decades for a big company and not realize what they're a part of, so why not have students learn what it's like to be a part of a small business. College students love to opine on things they know nothing about, but I've never heard a small business owner argue in favor of more regulation and higher taxes.


Anonymous rose said...

Good points as usual.

I think you would shoot yourself in the face if you went through the education program. I helped my girlfriend out with a few of her online classes she was taking where they did a lot of work through message boards over the internet. They'd talk about culture, teaching methods, racial sensitivity etc.

A typical discussion topic: should teachers discourage students from speaking ebonics in the classroom?

You'd think the professor and our soon to be teachers would understand that employers are not going to hire people who can't speak english correctly (what I call english, these people call "standard english", so as to not insult ebonics).

The student teachers would put together a mix of non-committal bullcrap about how they could see both sides of the issue, then the professor would chime in with "language is a vital cultural aspect and to discourage ebonics is to destroy the black culture" (ironically, that PC bull has gotta be offensive to many black people).

Next, all the student teachers would act like they had an epiphany and fall in line behind the teacher...

There's a million other stories. In one class they spent an hour taping a seed onto a piece of paper and talking about what the seed meant to them. Another 2 hours spent jointly holding some objects in the air to teach cooperation.

Anyway, you get the picture. The teacher's that go through this program learn how to forget how to think.

2:58 PM  

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