Oscar-winning filmmaker talks "Capitalism," politics and Oscars with Raw Story
Just over a year ago, Michael Moore vigorously campaigned for President Obama and the Democratic Party. But watching them jettison the public option from health care legislation appears to have been the final straw.
"These Democrats are a bunch of wusses," Moore told Raw Story in a hard-edged interview Wednesday. "They don't have the courage of their convictions. They won't stand and fight."
Health care is a uniquely important issue for the liberal filmmaker, whose 2007 documentary "Sicko" explored the heartbreaks and inequities in the US health care industry. He says he's fed up with the Democrats' reticence to take on insurance companies.
"It's embarrassing, it's disgusting and I won't have it anymore," he told Raw Story, mocking them in a baby's voice. "I'm sick of them."
His views on the Republicans? Well, at least they have cojones, Moore said.
"You really have to admire the Republicans on some level, because they stand up for what they believe in," he said. "They come into town, and when they win, oh they win. They come in with guns blazing."
Watch video of the interview at the bottom of the story.
A social critic who believes his government regularly fails to stand up for working people, Moore also took aim at Sen. Jim Bunning's (R-KY) single-handed five-day-long hold on an unemployment benefits extension.
"I remember him as a kid," said the Michigan-born-and-raised filmmaker. "He was a pitcher for the Detroit Tigers. He held the record for hitting the most number of batters with a baseball, beaning them... He was an angry pitcher. He was crazy then, and he's crazy now."
Moore said Bunning is doing to America's workforce what he did to America's batters many decades ago. "He's beaning the workers," he said.
The Senate finally passed the unemployment benefits package late Tuesday after accepting a symbolic Bunning amendment.
"Capitalism: A Love Story"
Moore's newest documentary, "Capitalism: A Love Story," assails the rampant inequality of wealth in the United States, and is currently the eighth highest grossing documentary of all time.
Its controversial thesis is that capitalism and democracy are fundamentally incompatible because such a system will inevitably lead to a plutocracy where the wealthy control the means of power and take advantage of working people.
His problem isn't the excesses of capitalism, he says, but rather in the concept itself. "Capitalism is in and of itself the problem," he told Raw Story. "Anytime the profit motive is the foundation for what you're doing, I think you're doomed."
In the film, Moore mentions Western Europe and Japan as examples from which the United States can learn, but he said even they have their limitations.
"I hail them only in the sense that they've at least found a way to put a friendly face on capitalism, so it's a little less harsh than it is on their people here," he said.
"But ultimately, they'll succumb to the same things, as we've seen with Toyota," he averred. "Once they became the General Motors, the number one, they got more greedy. They decided, 'why should we spend 7 cents on this little wire, when we can spend 4?'"
Moore shot to the national spotlight by forcefully criticizing the war and national security policies of President George W. Bush in the 2004 "Fahrenheit 9/11," the highest grossing documentary of all time. Would he consider making a follow-up film with a similarly critical look at President Obama?
"Yes, I would consider that, absolutely," he said. "Unless we stop this escalation of the Afghanistan war, we are going to have to quit calling it Bush's war and call it Obama's war."
Though he's a frequent recipient of conservatives' ire, Moore rejected allegations that he's a partisan, noting that he regularly assailed President Bill Clinton during the 1990s, as he chastises Obama now.
"I've always made movies and television shows and written books where I've tried to do my best to keep an eye on those in power," he said.
Four of Moore's flicks last decade cracked the box office's top 10. Two of those came after Fahrenheit 9/11. Yet some of his critics have labeled all his releases since the 2004 record-breaker a flop. Is he cursed?
"Oh man," Moore said with an exuberant laugh. "When I read something like that, it's so Orwellian. It's like it's 1984. My movie becomes, like you said, the eighth largest grossing documentary of all time and -- 'ah that's a flop, he's all over.' I don't know what to do!"
In the interview, Moore offered his takes on several of the top-rated movies of 2009, and offered a glimpse into his thoughts as he prepared to vote for his favorite flicks in the year's fast-approaching annual Academy Awards.
"The Hurt Locker":
I have mixed feelings about The Hurt Locker. I think Kathryn Bigelow is an excellent filmmaker. I really appreciate some of the things she said about the war... But as a film, I think it's... I mean you're on the edge of the seat during the whole film. But if the bulk of the film is about, should you snip the red wire or the green wire, that would put anybody on the edge of their seats. It's kind of an easy way...to tell a story and get you sort of on that emotional jag.
Avatar is a very brave and bold vision and statement about the times in which we live, but done as allegory, and set 200 years into the future.
"Troubled Water" (Norwegian film):
My favorite film of the year came from Norway, and it really didn't get distributed in this country. It's called Troubled Water. I think it's out on DVD now. I would do a Masters class in how this film was put together, so brilliant.
There were a number of good films this year and a number of them weren't in the Oscar battle. One was District 9, [which] I really loved. I loved Inglorious Basterds. I loved the animated film Up. Up in the Air I think said some really important things. I think Jason Reitman's a great filmmaker.
This video is from Raw Story, uploaded March 4, 2010.