Not that he needs any more publicity for his upcoming film "Sicko," but here's a rough transcript of an interview I had with Michael Moore when he made an appearance in Manchester, New Hampshire to promote the movie
Q: You used to be print journalist. Want to go back to that? A little
MM: I often think about how much I like to write and how writing
is more peaceful and sometimes a more personally enjoyable way to spend my
Q: Less controversial?
MM: I don’t mind that part of it. That’s what goes along with it.
I guess, you know, I don’t accept it. I don’t quite understand what the
controversy is about. What have I done? I’ve kind of thought about this a long
time. The things I’ve made films about --
a dying auto town, school shootings -- what’s the controversy? Is it because of
the things I propose as a result of the film, whatever?
Q: Your style maybe?
MM: The style is different from what they’re used to, it’s not
controversial. Roger & Me came
along and it wasn’t a traditional documentary. It wasn’t the traditional Fred
Wiseman approach. So people are saying,
Q: It’s more in your face than Wiseman.
MM: A lot more. And yet, and even though he claims that he
doesn’t have a point of view…
Q: … he actually admits that documentaries don’t have any
MM: I’m glad to hear that. Because people throw that at me all
the time. You could be like Fred Wiseman and be objective. That’s not
objective. He’s making a lot of decisions -- where to place the camera, who to
follow, and then he’s in the editing room. These are all subjective decisions.
Q: When I first heard about this subject, I thought it sounded
tame. It shouldn’t be controversial. Most people would agree with your basic
premise that Health Care sucks. But it’s turned out to be this hot potato. Why?
MM: I think it’s because it’s me. The right wing, the Fox News
Channel have done a good job over the years of defining me. Almost in a sense
creating a fictional character. Called Michael Moore. And so they add little
stories in that character. Not just them, but all those in opposition to me. And I
read these stories some times and I kind of laugh because it’s kind of funny,
it’s not real. it’s humorous sometimes.
Q: Some of the points of controversy they dwell on include the
trip to Cuba.
Which is only a fraction of the movie. Looking back, would you have reconsidered
MM: It really isn’t the focus of the audience’s attention. When
the audience sees the movie, they’re not focused on that; they’re moved by so
much of the other stuff. If anything, they’re happy about what’s good for the 9/11
rescue workers. They’re grateful for that. It’s kind of a manufactured
controversy. Essentially initiated by the Bush administration by going after
me. Which I thought was an usual thing to do. But it should never be
controversial for a free society to travel 90 miles from its own shores. When
you sit back and think about that. When they dig up this tape 30, 40, 50 years
from now they’ll look at it and go, that was like a big deal? They lived in a
free democracy and yet its own citizens couldn’t travel wherever they wanted?
Q: Unless things get remarkably worse.
MM: Oh, don’t say that.
Q: I was especially affected by the Cuban firefighters greeted
the 9/11 workers. But speaking about the Federal government, what is the latest on
that case? Will you be making a return trip to Guantanamo in a jumpsuit?
MM: It's still pending. I would like to go back and show the movie
to the Cuban people. I will. I’m not going to pay any attention to these people
in the Bush administration. They’re criminals. Criminals investigating me?
Seriously. The only investigation that needs to take place is of them. They
lied. They dragged us into a war that now has cost us 3500 lives…
Q: 14 in the last 48 hours…
MM: Is that right. Jeez, I
haven’t even seen the news today.
Q: When you hear about something like that or the Virginia Tech
shooting, do you feel like you’re banging your head against a wall?
MM: Yes. And I often think, and maybe this is just my Catholic
upbringing, but I often feel like… a failure.. I spend all this time trying to
get people to pay attention, to maybe do something. I take it out a lot on
myself, and say to myself, maybe you’re not doing it the right way. Maybe you’re not
reaching enough people and maybe you need to think about doing it differently.
And I’ll tell you a lot of thought went into that before this film. I’m not
criticising the other films. Because they’ll stand the test of time. They’ll
probably look prophetic in the years to come. Yet I’m not doing this to look
like a prophet here or a guy with a crystal ball who can guess that GM is going
to take a downslide. I’m not.That’s not why I started to do this. I started
with "Roger & Me" because I was hoping to do something to save my home town.
That didn’t happen. It’s in worse shape than ever. School shootings continue,
we’re in the fifth year of this war. You could make a case that Michael Moiore
is fairly ineffectual I terms of using his art to affect change. Maybe I’m
being too hard on myself. Maybe I’m taking the short view of this. In the long
run, it will have a cumulative effect. And I’ve
seen the change since I was booed off the Oscar stage four years ago..
Q: There were some cheers.
MM: Yes. I’ll tell you where I got the cheers from. I saw the
whole thing; you couldn’t see it on TV. The cheers came from my fellow members
of the Academy who were sitting down below. The nominees. Meryl Streep and
JUlianne Moore and Martin Scorsese and Harvey. People like that were cheering.
But up in the balcony in this one section, where they usually have the tickets
for the advertisers and sponsors, that’s where it was coming from. It was
pretty loud. the director was givig the cue to start the music, they started
lowering the mic. Remember they figured on not even having the Oscars. And then
we got the word three days before that they were going to have it, but a
shortened version, and they’d remove certain categories from the show. Like
documentary. So they were ready to deal me should I win.
Q: At the time about 80% were for the war. Now it’s reversed.
MM: Right. Now it’s about 70% against the war.
Q: So the will of the people means nothing.
MM: You mean right now? Well, we don’t have a Parliamentary
system, so you’re right, it doesn’t mean jack if you’re in between these four
years where you’re stuck with the guy that you
voted for and now you don’t like him or his war. Do you ever wionder
sometimes that some of this ooposition to the war isn’t anti-war but it’s more
like, jeez, we’re losing? I don’t wanna lose! I want victory! Let’s get out of
there! Sometimes I wonder.
wanted you to cut out the Hillary scene?
MM: He liked the first part…
Q: “Sexy, sassy, smart…”
MM: Right. It was the second part where I point out that she’s
the second largest recipient in the Senate of Health Care industry money.
Q: Still tight with him, though?
MM: Yeah. He was upset. But what’s he going to do? I got to tell
you something, too. Whatever else you’ve heard about Harvey, he’s been 100% in support of me,
complete creative freedom, no trouble whatsoever. That has been my continual
experience with him. It was that way with Fahrenheit
9/11, an earlier film of mine called The
Big One. I really have nothing negative to say about him or his brother.
Q: Since we’re in New
Hampshire, are you supporting any candidate? Are you
following the campaigns? How do you see this film affecting the outcome?
MM: I’ve not endorsed a candidate and have no intention to do so
any time in the near future. I want to see what they have to say and what their
plans are. There’s one candidate that I wish would get into the race because I
think he’d good for the discussion..
Q: Don’t say Ralph Nader…
MM: Please. Al Gore. I hope that he decides to run. And yes I
hope this film will have a significant effect on the election. And I hope this film helps put this
issue at the top of the agenda of things to be discussed. And that is why we
are here in New Hampshire.
Q: Except for Dennis Kucinich, it seems that most of the
Democratic candidates are pretending you don’t exist..
MM: Well, I know it’s a little rough on them, and people think of
me as this anti-Bush filmmaker. They obviously either forgot about me or weren’t
paying attention to me when Bill Clinton was in the White House. I was very
much on him, after him, through my writings, through my films. As I was when
Bush’s father was prseident. I mean, I’ve always done this sort of things. I
think that’sa my job. My job, you’re job, is to be right on top of the leaders
of this country and make sure they do the right thing.
Q: If the Democrats did take up your idea of universal health
care, don’t you worry that you’ll be helping a Republican victory in 2008?
MM: You just uttered a phrase there that’s physically impossible.
Q: What’s that?
MM: The Republicans
winning the next election.