Michael Moore Hates America (2004)
Directed by: Mike Wilson
Premise: Documentary filmmaker Wilson imitates the styles and techniques of Michael Moore’s films, especially Roger and Me in an attempt to dissect Moore’s films and provide an alternate view of America.
What Works: The film takes Moore to task and raises legitimate ethical questions about Moore’s filmmaking decisions. It also takes a close look at the documentary genre itself. Wilson raises important questions about how meaning is created within the genre and within film as a whole.
What Doesn’t: Unfortunately, the film does not go far enough into these issues and abandons them without coming to any discernible conclusions. Instead, the criticism of Moore slips into ad hominem (anti-personal) arguments from people whose credentials are tenuous at best. The film’s structure is also troubling. It cuts between the examination of Moore’s work, the theoretical issues of documentary filmmaking, and Wilson’s view of America as it contrasts with Moore’s view. These elements do not feel connected, especially the latter topic.
Bottom Line: Michael Moore Hates America exposes some important issues but its problem is right in the title. As I wrote in my review of Fahrenheit 9/11, this is a piece with a point of view and it is propaganda, but everything that enters the public sphere is propaganda. All art, but especially film, is crafted in such a way that it speaks in terms of a culture and an artist’s attitudes and biases. Michael Moore Hates America is worth viewing, especially by those who are interested in Moore or documentary films. It does not demonstrate a totally cohesive argument nor is it an exceptional exercise in filmmaking craft.
Episode: #21 (October 3, 2004)