Maybe it was the early hour. Maybe it was because it was Saturday. Maybe it was because they’re tired of being scolded for not doing their jobs. Whatever the reason, the press turnout was surprisingly meagre for the press conference for Captain Mike Across America, Michael Moore’s concert film about the 2004 presidential election.
Most pressers feature a panel of film participants – not this one. Just like in his movies, Moore goes it alone.
“This is a film for the choir,” Moore said, explaining why he’d brought the film out three years after the events it depicted. “It’s to rally their spirits … and get ready for the next election.”
The film follows Moore through 60 or more cities, speaking in front of thousands and sometimes tens of thousands of largely like-minded individuals. He said he put it out to counteract the “big lie” perpetrated by the government and the media that America is a conservative country.
Ah, there it is. It sure didn’t take long for the scolding to begin. “The only time we see our side on the news is if it’s anarchists breaking windows.” “Not once were [my] appearances on the national news.”
That may be true, but the clips shown of the local news covering the events all show the reporters outside the venues. The national media may have decided it wasn’t worth spending the resources if they weren’t going to be allowed inside. I don’t know for sure that they wouldn’t have been, but the clips Moore uses imply that that’s the case.
(Incidentally, this film takes place during approximately the same time that the folks behind Manufacturing Dissent were trying to get an interview with him. He certainly was extremely busy – which was the reason he gave for not sitting down with them – and if it was always his intention to bring out this film, you can see why he might not have wanted other filmmakers taping his appearances. But it also seems disingenuous to complain of a paucity of media coverage when you kick media out of your rallies.)
Anyway. Moore can be almost as hard on his own “side” as he is on the right wing: “Democrats are professionals at screwing things up.” He pointed out that the one advantage George Bush and his ilk have is that you know what you’re going to get. Whole world thinks the Kyoto accord’s a good idea? Don’t care. We’re not ratifying it. Whole world thinks a missile shield’s a bad idea? Really don’t care. We’re building one. That kind of defiance, Moore said, takes balls. And “our side doesn’t have those balls.”
Democratic candidates have also failed to reach the majority of Americans Moore is convinced are liberals, even if they wouldn’t use that word. Health care, the environment, equal pay, the war – in poll after poll, Moore says, a majority of Americans come down on the “liberal” side of issues, the one exception being capital punishment. (There’s also abortion and gay marriage, Mike, but never mind. Point taken.)
While disavowing any expert knowledge about anything other than making popular films, he acknowledged he’d like to see Al Gore get into the presidential race, although “I can understand why he wouldn’t want to put himself through that again.”
Answering criticism that he sure must like himself to keep putting himself on screen, he said in his editing room there’s a sign reading “When In Doubt, Cut Me Out.” “People want to see something that’s easy on the eyes,” he said. “The last thing you want to do is see yourself on the screen if you look like me.”
Moore also didn’t fail to compliment the Canadians in the crowd, something he does with flattering regularity: “There’s humour here and satire that cuts like a knife,” he said. Americans, he said, will sometimes make fun of the president, but they will never make fun of the presidency. “Canadians are much more likely to take the piss out of someone that’s high and mighty.”
Well then, consider this post as me doing my duty as a Canadian, Mr. Moore. Thanks for visiting. Come back and see us again sometime.