Making use of both entertaining and grim approaches, filmmaker Michael Moore’s film, “Capitalism: A Love Story,” condemns the system of capitalism, which he states is responsible for suffering in the United States and around the world. But he says that he’s doing it in an artistic manner. He is, after all, a filmmaker.
It would be accurate to say that Michael Moore is up to his old tricks in his new film “Capitalism: A Love Story.” He once again tackles corporate bad guys and how their actions create problems for those of us down here on the ground. But away from his film – in which he’s once again a wily, on-camera featured player – Moore seems, at first, to have relaxed a bit.
Wearing a red Rutgers University cap, holding court at the Toronto International Film Festival, Moore was quite mellow – thinking quietly about his words first, then speaking slowly and articulately.
“I’ve probably been thinking about this movie for the entire time I’ve been making films, because it seems like no matter what issue I decide to make a film about, it comes back to the core issue of something seriously wrong or unfair about the economic situation in our country,” said Moore, who made “Roger & Me” 20 years ago. “So I felt that instead of dancing around it anymore, I’d just go for it.”
Making use of both entertaining and grim approaches, Moore’s film goes about condemning the system of capitalism, which he states is responsible for suffering in the United States and around the world. But he says that he’s doing it in an artistic manner. He is, after all, a filmmaker.
“I don’t think anybody who is trying to create art, in any form, in this case cinema, succeeds when one tries to create art that that makes people feel more comfortable,” he said. “The purpose of art, in many cases, is to make you feel quite uncomfortable – or at least to go to that place that’s already full of discomfort inside of you, and tap into that. Because from that place can come any number of things that the artist is trying to evoke, whether that’s laughter and sadness or anger or (he points to himself) thinking.”
Moore explained that in his call to eliminate capitalism, he’s not referring to people wanting to open a business or work hard to earn money or even try to earn more money to better themselves, but to the system of legalized greed that guarantees there will be only a few people at the top of the pyramid, with everyone else working for them.
“I reject that system because I believe in democracy,” he said. “To have a pie on the table and have one guy say nine of those pieces are mine, and the other nine people at the table have to fight over the remaining slice, is wrong. It’s not democracy, it’s not moral, it’s not right.”
Neither Moore nor his film has any answers to the problem, either. He’s really just showing and complaining about the problem.
“I’m not an economist, I have no plan to lay out here,” he admitted. “I’m a filmmaker who sees something that he doesn’t like, and has witnessed a lot of suffering. I get a lot of e-mail and letters from people around the country telling me stories of utter despair, and I’ve tried to think of what I can do with the privileged position I have as a filmmaker to give voice to what they’re living through, because they don’t get to have their voice in the cinemas or on the nightly news or in the dying newspapers.”
That remark triggered a memory of an earlier cut of the film that featured a section on the damage that capitalism has done to the daily newspaper in America. Moore took that part out, with thoughts that it might have to be its own film someday.
“I think two years from now we’re not going to have daily newspapers,” he said, flatly. “In America they’re saying, ‘Well, the papers are being killed by the Internet.’ Last I heard they’ve got the Internet in Europe and in Japan. So why aren’t the papers there going under? In Europe and Japan and other countries, the primary source of funding in most of their newspapers is circulation. Advertising is second. In our country, advertising is the main source of income, and circulation is second.”
Moore, a big fan of newspapers, started to get angry. His voice got louder.
“Any time you say that the people who read your newspaper are secondary to the business community, you’ve lost. Eventually you’re not going to survive. In Europe they know that in order to keep circulation up, they better put out a damn good newspaper. And they better not cut too many reporters because if certain beats aren’t covered, people aren’t going to read the paper. But the bottom-line bean counters come in and say, ‘How can we get more news with fewer employees? We’ll just make everybody work twice as hard, and we’ll save money doing it.’ ”
Moore stopped talking, waited a couple of beats, let the drama of what he was saying set in, then continued, with some bitterness, in a softer voice.
“Too bad for all of us in a free society that we won’t have these daily newspapers that are supposed to act as a watchdog to those in power. It was not the Internet that has killed them, it is their own greed, their own stupidity, and it is capitalism that has taken our daily newspapers from us. We will suffer as a society without them.”
“Capitalism: A Love Story” opens Friday.
The Patriot Ledger