Trust fund punk: Why Michael Moore is absolute trash
To people of a certain age, political documentary filmmaker Michael Moore represents the woke rebellion of their youth. After all, this is the guy who shot the iconic and subversive video for Rage Against the Machine’s “Sleep Now in the Fire” in 2000 (which eerily foreshadowed our current political era with a joke placard reading “Donald Trump for President”)!
Moore is also the guy who reassured liberal parents everywhere that Marilyn Manson is apparently not some insane cultural terrorist looking to warp the minds of their precious children.
During a powerful segment in his anti-gun documentary Bowling for Columbine, the shock rocker pontificated over why he was blamed for the 1999 high school shooting and offered some astute sentiments about listening rather than talking to potential killers. “Whoa!,” we all thought in our baggy jeans and Slipknot t-shirts, “this Michael Moore dude is a legit hero!”
Except as the years have dwindled miserably by (and those baggy jeans have fallen out of and inexplicably back into fashion), it’s clear we were hoodwinked into thinking Moore is some genius of social and political discourse.
In actuality, the man is anything but that. While we can wholeheartedly agree with the general aim or message of some of his movies and attempts at political activism, his voice as a filmmaker has become more and more shrill and short sighted in exploring such topics.
Making that all the more difficult to withstand is Moore’s insistence in portraying himself as a humble man of the people and a stalwart warrior against capitalism when he’s reportedly worth around $50 million and owns nine houses. Capitalism, huh? It’s been so bad to Moore.
It’s fine to make money and lawd knows we wouldn’t scoff at the opportunity to sit on a throne of $50 million ourselves in one of nine houses that isn’t even rent controlled, but Moore’s self-assumed position as an anti-capitalist hero complicates that and his work.
By dressing like one of us everyday schlubs and complaining about the one percent while presumably swimming in a pool full of gold coins every night like Scrooge McDuck, his message has all the legitimacy of a trust fund punk – the kind of a**hole who slums in a squat for a week, eats all the free food stolen from dumpsters, and then heads back to his parents’ mansion when there’s nothing but cold beans and crackers left to eat.
But don’t worry – Moore’s still got his Aus-Rotten patch stitched on his jeans so he’s staying true to “the cause”.
In an interview with Larry King where he was challenged about being in the one percent while complaining about the one percent, Moore didn’t agree he was in the mega-rich minority and said of capitalism, “It’s a sink-or-swim situation. And those who do well, the cream rises to the top.”
Clearly, Moore thinks of himself as the cream that has risen to the top of this trash heap called society. He also appears to believe that his movies are responsible for creating the “wokeness” of the younger generation.
When asked by The Guardian about why people are finally listening to someone like Bernie Sanders, Moore bragged, “Can I take some of the credit for it? Two generations of young people have gone through school watching my films, shown to them by their teachers. I get mail every day from high-school students who see my films in class. And I’m part of a generation that raised these kids.”
It’s worth remembering that at the peak of his career in the early 00s, Moore seemed to be well on his way to becoming an important filmmaker addressing some of the most challenging issues of modern America.
Bowling for Columbine won Best Documentary Feature at the 2003 Academy Awards and (where he delivered a now infamous rant about George W. Bush and “fictitious election results”) and on May 22nd, 2004 he won the Palme d’Or for Fahrenheit 9/11 at the Cannes Film Festival – the first documentary to have ever been awarded the prestigious accolade.
The filmmaker was on his way to greatness – yet he somehow took a hard detour into becoming the sort of sanctimonious filmmaker with all the political insight and bravado of a 13-year-old who’s just skimmed through a copy of The Essential Noam Chomsky.
Moore continues to rage against the machine in his everyman costume and speak out on topics that we generally agree with him about. But none of that is to say we agree with how he says it or the manner with which he chooses to present himself and his sentiments.
As The Guardian once tenaciously put it, “Michael Moore has been accused of many things. Mendacity. Manipulation. Rampant egotism. Bullying a frail old man with Alzheimer’s. And that is by people who generally agree with his views.”
The man is trash and his perspective as a documentary filmmaker is seriously compromised as a result. We just wish we’d have figured that out back when he was high fiving Marilyn Manson for being a basic bro.