Michael Moore. Photo: Anand Heersingh

Moore mouths off

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By Stephanie Bomba

Director Michael Moore is sprawled across the couch eating tangerines in his Four Seasons hotel room, calmly awaiting the final round of questions he has to endure from the press while he’s in Toronto.

Moore is in town to promote his new documentary, The Big One, which chronicles the 47-city tour he took to promote his book, Downsize This! In the film, Moore also tries to speak with the corporate bosses whose companies are closing down American plants while they are making record profits. One of the first things Moore addresses are his reasons for making his new documentary, The Big One, so aggressive.

He explains the sense of anger and despair he feels seven years after his first documentary Roger and Me. He feels this way because conditions for workers have stayed much the same since then.

“Not a whole hell of a lot has changed,” says Moore. “In fact, it’s actually gotten a lot worse. Fewer and fewer people own most of what exists in this world. I think in some ways I’ve just become more radicalized by what I’ve seen since Roger and Me.”

Moore is probably best known for Roger and Me, in which he set out to meet General Motors CEO Roger Smith and ask him why he shut down the GM factory in Moore’s hometown of Flint, Michigan. Moore is also the man behind Canadian BAcon and the TV show TV Nation. Moore pulled stunts every week on TV Nation. For instance, while the OJ Simpson trial was on, Moore and his crew would drive around the LA courthouse in Hummers trying to attract the attention of the media with bullhorns. Another episode featured Moore attempting to get hugs from all 50 U.S. state governors.

Moore says being a filmmaker was not something he wanted to be as he was growing up.

“I just fell into it because I didn’t have a job and General Motors was closing factories,” he says. “I just thought I could make a movie.”

Moore, who began his film career without any camera experience whatsoever, has succeeded by doing just that.

Consequently, he’s busy making more movies and shows. TV Nation has been picked up by a network and CBS has just agreed to produce a sitcom he has written. He had also just wrapped shooting a pilot for The Michael Moore Show for Fox and is currently writing another movie.

One major theme keeps coming up as the interview continues: Moore’s contempt for corporations making record profits.

“They don’t have to move the plants to remain competitive. They already are competitive,” Moore says.

“They’re already setting a record profit. They just want to make more money. If that’s the only motive, then what’s to stop them from using prison labour? Why not bring back slavery? That’s the best, you don’t have to pay them anything,” he says sarcastically.

“What I’m trying to say in the film is that we’re about more than that. As human beings, there’s a moral issue here.”

Moore is quick to explain that he donates more than one-third of his income to several different union guilds and causes. “I put my money where my mouth is,” he says.

Moore also believes more extreme measures should be taken to limit the power corporations have.

“I want laws passed that protect us from these companies,” he says angrily. “I want a law passed that says you cannot lay people off at a time when you’re making a profit. If you are in profit, you cannot destroy people’s lives.”

In spire of the despair and destruction he has chronicled in his films, he still feels very optimistic and places his hopes in the future generation. He says it’s up to the next generation to do something because baby-boomers have not completed the job.

Finally, Moore says his films are ironic and funny for a reason.

“The best humour comes out of anger. Especially if you’re angry at the social condition that you see,” he says. “I think humour can be a very effective weapon in which to affect social change.”

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