May 7, 2004

"An irresponsible, intellectually dishonest windbag like Moore."

In TNR, Michelle Cottle writes about the Michael Moore/Disney tangle:
On his website, the filmmaker portrays himself as a courageous, long-suffering truth-teller, lamenting the "profound censorship obstacles" he often encounters and characterizing this latest "struggle" as part of a larger "lesson in just how difficult it is in the country to create a piece of art that might upset those in charge." Fortunately for the American people, the resolute Moore vows to keep fighting for our right to view his latest masterpiece--"because, after all, it's a free country."

Yes, it is a free country, but it is not a perfect one. Because in a perfect country, an irresponsible, intellectually dishonest windbag like Moore would not be a rich, successful, Oscar-winning documentarian. He would instead be just another anonymous nutter, mumbling about fluoride in the water and penning anti-establishment tracts by candlelight in some backwoods Appalachian shack.

Why assume every crackpot belongs in Appalachia? He'd be in Michigan. And I think a perfect country needs its share of blowhard, dishonest filmmakers. My idea of a perfect country would be one with plenty of great artists and smart, educated citizens who know better than to think that artists are telling the straight truth. It would also have professional, ethical journalists, who preserve the long term value of journalism and don't just use it in the short term to make their own political statements. Oh, and it would have people who make political statements be making them because they genuinely believe the truth of what they are saying and therefore rationally choose to persuade through sound evidence and argument--because the citizens are smart and educated. Where does the documentary filmmaker fit in, then? Well, you can either be a journalist-documentarian or an artist-documentarian. I include the comedian-documentarian in the second category. That's what Moore is. If you don't like him, don't pay attention to him.

Do I think Disney is wrong not to distribute his film? No. They didn't break any deals, as Cottle's article, like other articles, explains. (I assumed the contrary here, and take it back.) They have an interest in preserving the wide appeal of the Disney name by not affiliating it with strong political statements, like Moore's, and they built that interest into their arrangement with Miramax. So Moore (it appears) hasn't been wronged. But do I blame Moore for grandstanding and milking this and dragging in Jeb Bush? Nah! Those are typical Moore antics. Stop paying attention to him. You're only giving him power! Disney gave him power, too--the point of my earlier post--by tangling with him.