by Rob Gonsalves
Has Michael Moore broken some kind of record with his new stand-up-punditry film "Michael Moore in TrumpLand"? This movie didnâ€™t even exist three weeks ago. It was filmed on October 7 and 8, and it premiered less than two weeks later. Welcome to the wonderful world of digital, I guess.Anyway, the movie, which Moore sprang on the world with a flourish last week, captures Moore during two talks at the Murphy Theater in Wilmington, Ohio, a town that Moore tells us leans largely (or bigly) toward Trump. So here comes Moore, the lefty barnstormer, to take his argument behind enemy lines, with the marquee outside blaring â€śTrump Voters Welcome.â€ť
"Moore preaching to the converted."
I donâ€™t know â€” and Iâ€™m sure Moore doesnâ€™t know either â€” how many people in Mooreâ€™s theater audience were, in fact, Trump voters; there's no way to know, really. I donâ€™t trust Mooreâ€™s editing: Whoâ€™s to say the man photographed scowling during a Moore paean to Hillary Clinton wasnâ€™t filmed at some other point in the evening, actually frowning at something else? (This is nothing new, of course; editing makes audience members seem to respond to something other than what they actually responded to in practically every concert film youâ€™ve ever seen.) We also donâ€™t know if he changed anyoneâ€™s mind. Does it matter? At this point, people are pretty well seated where theyâ€™re at, and theyâ€™re probably not going to be budged.
What the movie amounts to is a fearful-sounding plea by Moore for everyone to vote for Hillary. Moore is not as sure of Trumpâ€™s defeat as many are. By his own account, Moore was in England during Brexit, and that experience â€” people voting as a â€śfuck youâ€ť to the status quo, and ending up fucking themselves â€” seems to have scarred him. In July, Moore rattled a lot of his fans by insisting that Trump would win. Most polls these days beg to differ, but Moore might also have been trying to galvanize people into action, which he also tries to do here.
In a way, Mooreâ€™s instincts towards compassion sabotage his proselytizing efforts, because as a native of the much-disgraced Flint, Michigan, Moore knows the frustrations of the working class and can understand why they want to blow up a system that gave them the shaft. He may be erring on the side of idealization when he says Trump boosters are decent people (all of them? The white supremacists? The bigots of all stripes? Milo Yiannopoulos?), but he seems to want to begin with a clean slate and work around to something Trump supporters and Clinton supporters can agree on. To be honest, I wonder if the true impetus for this movie was so that Moore could have a filmed document of him publicly agitating for Clinton. Why? Maybe to assure Mooreâ€™s imagined post-apocalyptic post-Trump generations that at least One Man Stood Firm.
Moore feints towards common ground, but mostly pays it jokey lip service. Iâ€™m a Moore admirer with serious reservations: I feel that he can speak powerfully for the downtrodden, but that his effectiveness can get lost in smug self-regard or just plain snark. During this show, Moore literally walls off Mexican audience members and sics a drone on Muslim listeners, ostensibly to make the Trump voters in the house feel safer. Well, first of all, this sort of unfunny stunt isnâ€™t going to endear you to the butts of the joke, the Trump voters. Second, Mooreâ€™s output is awfully, awfully long on this sort of unfunny stunt. I know Moore is generally on my side of the fence. I also know Fahrenheit 9/11 didnâ€™t prevent a second Bush term.
Then again, Dinesh Dâ€™Souzaâ€™s shitheaded 2016: Obamaâ€™s America didnâ€™t prevent a second Obama term, either. (Nor, I think, will Dâ€™Souzaâ€™s recent Hillaryâ€™s America function as intended.) Generally folks who take in agitprop are not looking to have their ideas changed, but confirmed. Dâ€™Souza didnâ€™t help convert Obama leaners to Romney, and Moore didnâ€™t pull anyone away from Bush to Kerry. He isnâ€™t going to do that to Trump, either. Trump seems to be doing a superlative job of that to himself. This concert, filmed in the moments right before the truly ugly Access Hollywood recording got out, doesnâ€™t take that into account.This election season has been so weird, has moved so quickly into such unforeseen places, that even a film that was shot (as I write this) fifteen days ago canâ€™t keep pace with it.
link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=30947&reviewer=416
originally posted: 10/26/16 15:54:54