we waited for michael moore in-side Convocation Hall Tuesday (April 16) determined to have a good time.Moore, who burst into the American consciousness in 1989 with the critically acclaimed "docucomedy" Roger And Me -- tracing the devastation wrought by the closure of the GM plant in Flint, his hometown -- is perhaps the most mischievous political saboteur in North America.
His playful skits on his cable show The Awful Truth tap into the public's natural mistrust of government and big business. His recent book, Stupid White Men, has been on the New York Times best-seller list for four weeks, despite nearly having been "pulped" by HarperCollins, which was concerned about its "unpatriotic" content in a post-9/11 U.S.
Moore helps us make sense of the world. He lets fly his barbs with the polish of a practised stand-up comic. It took mere minutes for the oversized sage, whose gig at Convocation Hall this night is stop 36 on his promo tour, to win over the more-than-willing crowd.
But as someone who supports leftist causes, I'm put off by the groupthink that emerges. The ritual seems, at times, just as formalized and boisterous as a Baptist service, the crowd ever so willing to suspend the very critical thinking Moore would have us exercise. It's embarrassing.
Moore shares the results of his own investigations into the sins of rich and powerful America while mocking the dumbest of its citizens for comic relief.
He shows a clip from a video in production (with Canadian Salter Street Films) titled Bowling For Columbine. In it, Moore, whose attention has been caught by a newspaper ad ("Open a chequing account, get a free rifle") is shown walking into a bank and completing the transaction. It's Moore at his disruptive and satirical best.
But just as the quality of the fifth bottle of wine matters less than that of the first, so, too, do Moore's bits suffer as the evening wears on.
A critique of new-minted premier Ernie Eves stops at making fun of his initials. With Eves successfully convicted of the crime of alliteration, the audience's laughter redoubles.
The desire to laugh together is so strong that the disturbing question of its genuineness begins to nag.
This emptiness is most painfully exposed during the Q&A. Would-be Castros, drawn to the brief fame of the microphone, line up with the sole intention of showing off their cultural awareness.
The difference between the enthusiasms of the egos in this crowd and those of the gun-lovin' NRA members Moore pans in his video begins to dissolve.
I bury my head in my hands, red from humiliation. These are the people who believe they represent me?
An older man at the mike to defend Jean Chretien is roundly heckled. While criticism of Chretien is valid, the calls that come raining down are clearly intended to chastise the speaker for spoiling the party.
As someone who has seen good leftist efforts, I'm crushed by the navel-gazing of these "intellectuals" caught in the dialectic thrill of wordy combat, and hormone-fuelled youthful rebellion masquerading as a fight for social justice. Isn't it because of these handicaps that the left has splintered, been weakened and produced disenchanted people like me?
We cast ourselves as heroes. We choose one of the seven deadly sins -- greed in this case -- and sprinkle it liberally over the enemy. And at rituals like the one enacted at Convocation Hall last week, we anoint for ourselves a leader who tells us to go out there and, like the title of one of the chapters of Moore's book, "Kill whitey."