Moore to the point

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 easier?

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 time.

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, what’s this?

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 objectivity.

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. So…

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 doing that?

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.

Q: Harvey 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.

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