Michael Moore in Cuba visit courtcase

Friday, 11th May 2007 at 15:23 UTC Leave a comment

Well, I saw this story and thought I’d have to comment.  For those who need the background details, basically Moore took a group of rescue workers from New York who’s ailments are thought to have been caused by their work on the collapsed twin towers, but who cannot afford American health-care, to Cuba for treatment under Castro’s health service.  Sicko, the ensuing film, will be released at the Cannes Film Festival.   He’s now being asked to explain himself and his apparent breach of the trade embargo.  Well, several things come to mind.

I have to admit, and yes, I know I won’t be popular for saying this, that I actually like Michael Moore.  In a world where left-wingers are famed for intellectual snobbery, and where right-wing tabloids inform much of the population, here is someone trying to bridge a serious divide.

If you ask leftists who dislike Moore how they think a major anti-war documentary should be made, what they describe is completely unsuitable for mass-market distribution.  Instead, Moore has gone to where people are at, told the story in the way that suits his audience best, and moved an awful lot of people along the way.

Some will, off course, spot that this is basically a publicity stunt: Moore is probably completely OK with this action being taken against him, as it will boost box office numbers.  Why is this a bad thing?  The guy is supposed to be raising the profile of his film, and if getting in a fight with the state puts him, with movie, on the front pages of some major newspapers, then bad publicity is better than no publicity.

Activists who do quasi-legal press stunts monthly or more, and then complain when Moore does one in the name of getting people into Theatres (and, when the film makes it to the UK, Cinemas) are being quite hypocritical.  While the amount he makes is huge, there are two things worth remembering: first, he needs to eat and live, and second, he needs enough cash to make his next film, and to keep employing the highest ratio of blacks to non-blacks in a white-run US media company.  You want to see black people going bigger places in the media: spend money on his films.

Of course, this leads to the accusation that he is part of the media machine.  Given his output, and the criticism he gets from within the machine, he’s hardly in the belly of the beast.  The thing is, at least somebody is using bits of the machine like Miramax to spread this kind of message.

And what of the claims that he produces crude propaganda.  First, its not that crude.  Go watch Saddam’s propaganda.  Second, you can’t do politics without emotions, unless you are a robot.  Third, its important to give ones brain a rest; I don’t tend to assume that somehow Moore is infallible, but I do like to sit back and enjoy the movie and feel a sense of connection with the characters and just enjoy it for what it is.  Propaganda will always be with us.  The fact this isn’t as subtle as the stuff New Labour and The Corporation throw at us is probably a good thing.

Well, that’s my thoughts.  I look forward to seeing Sicko, though I think we all know the ending already: every single Cuban is entitled to healthcare, whilst 60 million Americans live their lives without any cover, faced with the possibility that they could collapse in a street and no one show up to treat them.

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Entry filed under: Activism, Culture, News, Politics.

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