Jewish World Review July 7, 2004/ 18 Tamuz 5764

Marianne M. Jennings

Marianne M. Jennings
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Averting our eyes from Michael Moore | Liberal media bias is the stuff of rote recitation since Bernie Goldberg, Ann Coulter, and others beat the theme to death in tomes that grace the New York Times' bestseller list, much to the chagrin of editors there. Limbaugh, Hannity, O'Reilly, et al. earn their daily bread from the bias grist mill. Readers transmit better media bias tales than I could offer, with one exception.

The shots of Michael Moore are cropped, abbreviated, and passing. How is that bias, you, dear readers, ask? Because Mr. Moore's image is much like the color photos of odd diseases in our Mayo Clinic Family Healthbook that my boys drag out for entertainment. When they say, "Look, Mom, 'Black, Hairy tongue,'" I avert my eyes. More than a glance at furry tongue can curb the appetite for days. The etiology of Black, Hairy tongue, which my sons read aloud as they cherish the photo, can start you down anorexia's path.

The brevity of Michael Moore pictures and video is by design. Slovenly in logic and portly in exaggeration do not play well in the age of the 100 sexiest men alive. Michael Moore is material for the obnoxious fiancÚ show. Like the furry tongue, we look out of morbid curiosity, but not too closely, despite our acute awareness that furry tongue is a fact of life, medicine and contagion. The more you see of Moore, the more pitiable and pitiful he seems.

Michael Moore is that odd misfit found in all high schools. These marshmallowy outliers are a brew of Shakespeare's windbag, Polonius, The Goonies' yarn-spinning Chunk, and the quirky Michael J. Pollard in any movie. They are, at once, geek and pervert. They blow the roof off the science lab because, they claim, they had generated plutonium. Then they focus their science skills on spying in the girls' locker room. They have undeniable ability, but somewhere in its application, loose wires cross with the resulting havoc loose wires wreak.

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The less astute mistake their independence and quirkiness as altruistic virtue, particularly after high school. But, they are not Socrates or Thoreau. While they understand that the unexamined life is not worth living, they skip self-examination and seek others to examine them. They crave attention from the bell portion of the curve. Garrulous, pompous, and addicted to the limelight, Michael Moores do whatever it takes to be center stage.

Mr. Moore's Roger and Me, an indictment of corporate America, could send the ill-trained down the path of Moore respect. Mr. Moore is not that complex. He wants fame and fortune and has figured out that feigned altruism brings the liberal media fawning.

I have not yet seen Mr. Moore's thunderous Fahrenheit 9-11 because I can no longer abide movie theaters. I spent too much time there during my children's Aladdin and Fievel years. Also, the popcorn troughs and soda buckets of my fellow movie goers make me feel as if I am among farm life. I did, however, catch Mr. Moore's Bowling for Columbine on television just weeks ago. Documentaries have footage of the producer/director in every scene?

Columbine shows Mr. Moore asking Canadians with odd hair why we had high school shootings in the United States. I can see why the movie won an Oscar. Reasoning like that abounds in Hollywood and among liberals: Rush Limbaugh was responsible for the Oklahoma City bombing, and U.S. capitalism was responsible for the 9-11-01 attacks.

Moore's stretches, inconsistencies, and hypocrisy are shameless. Following his indictments of corporate welfare, he still wore the sports garb of several professional teams. Does public financing for sports stadiums not bother him? Every minimum wage worker in Mr. Moore's beloved Flint funds those mega stadiums, a program that fuels multi-million-dollar player contracts. But, reasoning and facts are not Mr. Moore's forte.

Like all high school outliers, Mr. Moore is a sensationalist. Others have documented well the bald-faced lies in all of his films. When confronted with his blatant disregard for the truth, he explains it all away by calling himself a satirist. He entered his films in the documentary category; the film academies do not have satire awards. Then again, these are the same people who kerfuffled over Lord of the Rings. Only their fussing over The English Patient showed less taste, until the Moore films.

Michael Moore, like Chunk and Polonius, craves the spotlight. But, each moment there requires Moore stretching of the truth, Moore overreaching on the bounds of propriety, and Moore degradation into the outrageous to earn the attention and dollars that exceed those of the very CEOs he mocks and maligns.

Look at Michael Moore for too long or too carefully, and you see a film novice who is an attention-starved geek. The media edit and limit Moore images because their new hero, a symbol with far more visibility than John Kerry, is an obnoxious adolescent. Right down to the gawky laugh, Mr. Moore symbolizes how low the left has sunk in both political discourse and its quest for power. They have been forced to embrace Chunks and Michael Moores as their policy setters. 'Tis a pitiful sight. I can avert my eyes, but the left, faced with the humiliation of their new icon, must be feeling the pain of this Mayo Clinic Family Healthbook oddity. The Moore glimpses are fleeting because he's just too painful to see.

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JWR contributor Marianne M. Jennings is a professor of legal and ethical studies at Arizona State University. Send your comments by clicking here.

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© 2004, Marianne M. Jennings