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Saturday, September 19, 2015

Michael Moore: 'American Exceptionalism Is the Death of Us'

Michael Moore. (photo: unknown)
Michael Moore. (photo: unknown)

By Jake Coyle, Associated Press
14 September 15
readersupportednews.org
 
ike's Happy Movie" was the working title of Michael Moore's latest documentary, "Where to Invade Next," but few would consider its examination of American ills — from runaway college tuition to mass incarceration — the stuff of bubbly, feel-good delight.

Yet "Where to Invade Next," in which Moore plunders foreign (mostly European) ideas like Italy's government-mandated vacation or Portugal's decriminalized drug use to bring back home to America, has an unmistakable whiff of hope.

Yes, Moore, that passionately voluble critic and left-wing icon, is feeling a wind at his back. Moore's first film in six years, he says, was partly inspired by change he's witnessed in recent years, from the Occupy Wall Street movement to the success of marriage equality.

In "Where to Invade Next," which Moore is currently shopping for distribution, he travels to various countries seeking smarter ways to educate, police and work. "Instead of sending in the Marines," he says in the film, "send in me."

In an interview following the movie's Toronto International Film Festival premiere, the 61-year-old filmmaker weighed in on Hilary Clinton ("a decent soul with a great sense of humor"), Bernie Sanders ("a bit of a crank") and where he got his international outlook growing up in northern Michigan ("I blame Canada").

AP: Your film suggests American chest-thumping has blurred its vision.

Moore: This concept of American exceptionalism is the death of us. We know personally it does none of us any good walking around going "Yeah! Yeah!" That's not the path to self-improvement. I mean, you can like yourself, and I do. I love the fact that I'm an American. I love this country. I love everything about what it means. But I also embrace the other side of it, and in doing so, it's incumbent upon me as a citizen to want to help fix it.

AP: Does this film signify some optimistic shift in you?

Moore: I am crazily optimistic about things getting better and people having the power to do that and making it better. But remember, I'm a filmmaker and my first concern is always to make a great movie. If I don't make a great movie, then the politics are what? Nothing's going to come of it because no one's going to be watching my movie.

AP: Do you think the protest spirit of America has waned?

Moore: The month before the Iraq War began — that one Saturday — there were millions of people in the streets in towns all over America. Largest collective demonstration in the history of the United States. One month later, it didn't stop the war. And when it didn't, people just kind of gave up and there weren't large-scale demonstrations after that. People just can't give up so easily here. Things take time.

AP: What are your thoughts on the presidential race?

Moore: I think it's going to be very interesting. And I think it's really too early to tell what's going to happen. I know people are worried about Donald Trump, but what you have to understand about Trump, first of all, is that he's a performance artist. ... There will come a point here, this year, where people go: OK, we've had enough of this performance art.

AP: You're involved with movie theaters in Michigan. Do you still believe in the theatrical experience?

Moore: This is our one populist art form. It's the one thing everybody can still sort of do no matter what their economic status is. You can't go to music anymore. If you're a working person or if you're poor, you can't go to a concert anymore because it costs hundreds of dollars now to get a ticket. You can't go to an NBA game. You can't go sit in the bleachers at Yankee Stadium for five bucks. Those days are over.

AP: Do you worry that many conservatives won't consider seeing your film — that you will merely preach to the choir, so to speak?

Moore: I think why I upset Fox News and the right wing so much is because I'm one of the few people on the left that has crossed over into mainstream America that has a large audience in Middle America. And that drives them crazy because the left is supposed to be out there on the left wing of the limb on the tree. And I don't live out there, I live here. I reach millions and millions of people, and that's a threat to them.

Will I reach that 20 percent way over on the right? No. But I'm not trying to reach them. I'm doing what I wish more people in television and movies would do, where everyone — they're broadcasters — is trying to reach a broad audience, and in doing so, you have to mollify the message. ... By the time it's over, what we have is mostly mediocre movies and mediocre television. And it's only those TV shows and movies that say, "To hell with that. I'm going to give this to you from the heart, from the gut and let the chips fall." Those are the great movies. Those are the great TV shows.
  
Comments
+25 # Citizen Mike 2015-09-14 08:58
I cannot distinguish "American Exceptionalism" from Master Racism. It is massive arrogance which massively offends everyone else on the planet.

To clearly understand it, look at something that is not political or military: The fact that we have completely ignored the Metric System of measurement used by the entire rest of the world.

A proposed change to the Metric System decades ago never took hold, it was just ignored by the public. Collective arrogance.
+21 # reiverpacific 2015-09-14 09:33
Quoting Citizen Mike:
I cannot distinguish "American Exceptionalism" from Master Racism. It is massive arrogance which massively offends everyone else on the planet.

To clearly understand it, look at something that is not political or military: The fact that we have completely ignored the Metric System of measurement used by the entire rest of the world.

A proposed change to the Metric System decades ago never took hold, it was just ignored by the public. Collective arrogance.

A good point much overlooked (Like no Universal Healthcare -remember "Sicko"? and free further education) as part of the slimy underbelly of US exceptionalism as it trots around the world declaiming to other nations on "human rights" whilst some of the worst war criminals and ruthless warmongers are strutting abut free and prospering (choose y'r own examples, there's plenty), with others given succor.

I remember, working for a major US Engineering and Construction company as a Scottish Architect/Desig ner, being assigned to teach interior classes in metric mensuration and calculations to those employees scheduled to work on overseas projects.

I asked one of the principles why the US insisted on maintaining "Imperial" (formerly British feet and inches based) standards. He replied that it was hard enough to get people educated in the most basic ways over here without imposing a whole new set of values on them, in spite of metric being much easier to work with in in tenth increments.
+9 # futhark 2015-09-14 10:56
Metric system conversion was being promoted by the Carter administration. Signs were being changed from telling distances in miles to distances in kilometers and gasoline was starting to be sold in liters instead of gallons, just as they are in Canada, Europe, South America, and Asia. Being a high school science teacher, I was very aware of the change and how it could improve the international marketability of American made goods.

Then Ronald Reagan moved into the White House, declared it was "morning in America", tore down the solar panels on the roof, and started pursuing a policy of "return to yesteryear" for American technology. While working to return technology like automobile fuel efficiency to the same level it was in 1925, he was propping up American-friend ly tyrants and terrorists around the world.

Meeting the challenges of the future requires flexibility and adaptation, not retrenchment. Students often complained to me about having to master the metric system in addition to the American standard system. My answer in the form of a question was: "Which wrench fits a bigger nut, 7/16" or 1/2"?" Given most student's inability to deal correctly with common fractions, the answers were usually wrong.

Answer: 1/2" is bigger than 7/16", as 1/2" = 8/16".

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