Michael Francis Moore (born
April 23, 1954) is an American filmmaker, author and
He is the director and producer of Bowling for Columbine
, and Capitalism: A Love Story
of the top eight highest-grossing documentaries
of all time. In September
2008, he released his first free movie on the Internet,
documenting his personal crusade to encourage more Americans to
vote in presidential elections. He has also written and starred in
the TV shows TV Nation
Moore is a self-described liberal who has criticized globalization
, large corporations
, assault weapon
ownership, the Iraq War
President George W. Bush
and the American health
in his written and cinematic works. In 2005
named him one
of the world's 100 most influential people
2005, Moore started the annual Traverse City Film Festival in
In 2008, he closed his Manhattan office and
moved it to Traverse City, where he continued work on new
born in Flint,
Michigan and raised
in Davison, a suburb of
Flint, by parents Veronica, a secretary, and Frank Moore, an
automotive assembly-line worker.
At that time, the city of
Flint was home to many General Motors
, where his parents and grandfather
worked. His uncle was one of the founders of the United Automobile Workers labor union
and participated in the Flint Sit-Down Strike
. Moore has
described his parents as "Irish
Democrats, basic liberal good people."
Moore was brought up Irish Catholic
attended parochial St. John's Elementary School for primary school
and originally intended to join the seminary
. He then attended Davison High School,
where he was active in both drama and debate, graduating in 1972.
At the age of 18, he was elected to the Davison school board
dropping out of the University of Michigan-Flint (where he wrote for the student newspaper
The Michigan Times) and
working for a day at the General
Motors plant, at 22 he founded the alternative weekly magazine
The Flint Voice, which soon changed its name to The
Michigan Voice as it expanded to cover the entire
In 1986, when Moore became the editor of Mother Jones
, a liberal
political magazine, he moved to California and The Michigan
was shut down.
After four months at Mother Jones
, Moore was fired.
of The Weekly Standard
was for refusing to print an article by Paul
that was critical of the Sandinista
record in Nicaragua. Moore refused to run the article, believing it
to be inaccurate. "The article was flatly wrong and the worst kind
of patronizing bullshit. You would scarcely know from it that the
United States had been at war with Nicaragua for the last five
years." Berman described Moore as a "very ideological guy and not a
very well-educated guy" when asked about the incident. Moore believes that
Mother Jones fired him because of the publisher's refusal
to allow him to cover a story on the GM plant closings in his
hometown of Flint,
responded by putting laid-off GM worker Ben
(who was also writing for the same magazine at the time)
on the magazine's cover, leading to his termination. Moore sued for
wrongful dismissal, and settled out of court for $58,000, providing
him with seed money for his first film, Roger & Me.
- Roger &
Me: Moore first became famous for his 1989 film, Roger
& Me, a documentary about what happened to Flint, Michigan after General
Motors closed its factories and opened new ones in Mexico, where the
workers were paid much less. Since then Moore has been known
as a critic of the neoliberal view of
globalization. "Roger" is Roger B. Smith,
former CEO and president of General Motors.
- Pets or Meat:
The Return to Flint: is a
short (23-minute) documentary film that was aired on PBS. It is
based on the feature-length film Roger & Me (1989) by
Michael Moore. The film's title refers to Rhonda Britton, a Flint,
Michigan, resident featured in both the 1989 and 1992 films who
sells rabbits as either pets or meat.
Bacon: In 1995, Moore released a satirical film,
Canadian Bacon, which
features a fictional
US president (played by Alan Alda)
engineering a fake war with Canada in order to
boost his popularity. It is noted for containing a number of
Canadian and American stereotypes, and for being Moore's only
non-documentary film. The film is also one of the last featuring
Canadian-born actor John Candy, and also
features a number of cameos by other Canadian actors. In the film,
several potential enemies for America's next great campaign are
discussed by the president and his cabinet. (The scene was strongly
influenced by the Stanley Kubrick
film Dr. Strangelove.) The
President comments that declaring war on Canada was as ridiculous
as declaring war on international terrorism. His military adviser,
played by Rip Torn, quickly rebuffs this
idea, saying that no one would care about "... a bunch of guys
driving around blowing up rent-a-cars."
- The Big One: In
1997, Moore directed The Big
One, which documents the tour publicizing his book
Downsize This! Random Threats from an Unarmed American,
in which he criticizes mass layoffs despite record corporate
profits. Among others, he targets Nike for outsourcing shoe production to Indonesia.
for Columbine: Moore's 2002
film, Bowling for
Columbine, probes the culture of guns and violence in the
United States, taking as a starting point the Columbine High
School massacre of 1999. Bowling for Columbine won
the Anniversary Prize at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival and
France's Cesar Award as the Best Foreign
Film. In the United States, it won the 2002 Academy Award for
Documentary Feature. It also enjoyed great commercial and
critical success for a film of its type and became, at the time,
the highest-grossing mainstream-released documentary (a record now
held by Moore's Fahrenheit
9/11). It was praised by some for illuminating a subject
slighted by the mainstream media, but it was attacked by others who
considered it inaccurate and misleading in its presentations and
suggested interpretations of events.
- Fahrenheit 9/11:
Fahrenheit 9/11 examines
America in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks,
particularly the record of the Bush administration and alleged
links between the families of George
W. Bush and Osama bin Laden. Fahrenheit was
awarded the Palme d'Or, the top
honor at the 2004 Cannes Film
Festival; it was the first documentary film to win the prize
since 1956. Moore later announced that Fahrenheit 9/11
would not be in consideration for the 2005 Academy Award for
Documentary Feature, but instead for the Academy Award for Best
Picture. He stated he wanted the movie to be seen by a few
million more people, preferably on television, by election day.
Since November 2 was less than nine months after the film's
release, it would be disqualified for the Documentary Oscar. Moore
also said he wanted to be supportive of his "teammates in
non-fiction film." However, Fahrenheit received no Oscar nomination
for Best Picture. The title of the film alludes to the classic book
Fahrenheit 451 about a
future totalitarian state in which books are banned; according to
the book, paper begins to burn at 451 degrees Fahrenheit. The
pre-release subtitle of the film confirms the allusion: "The
temperature at which freedom burns." At the box office,
Fahrenheit 9/11 remains the highest-grossing documentary
of all time, taking in over US$200 million worldwide,
States box office revenue of almost
- Sicko: Moore directed this film
about the American health care system, focusing particularly on the
managed-care and pharmaceutical industries. At least four major
companiesâ€”Pfizer, Eli Lilly, AstraZeneca, and GlaxoSmithKlineâ€”ordered their employees not
to grant any interviews to Moore. According to Moore on a letter at
his website, "roads that often surprise us and lead us to new ideas
â€“ and challenge us to reconsider the ones we began with have caused
some minor delays." The film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival on 19 May
2007, receiving a lengthy standing ovation, and was released in the
U.S. and Canada on 29 June 2007. The film was the subject of some
controversy when it became known that Moore went to Cuba with
chronically ill September
11th rescue workers to shoot parts of the film. The
United States is looking into whether this violates the trade embargo. The film
is currently ranked the third highest grossing documentary of all
time and received an Academy Award
nomination for Best Documentary
- Captain Mike Across
America: Moore takes a look at the politics of college
students in what he calls "Bush Administration America" with this
film shot during Moore's 60-city college campus tour in the months
leading up to the 2004 election. The film was later re-edited by
Moore into Slacker
- Capitalism: A Love
Story: On September 23, 2009, Moore released a new movie
titled Capitalism: A Love
Story, which looks at the financial crisis of
2007â€“2009 and the U.S. economy during the transition between
the incoming Obama Administration and the outgoing Bush
Administration. Addressing a press conference at its release, Moore
said, "Democracy is not a spectator sport, it's a participatory
event. If we don't participate in it, it ceases to be a democracy.
So Obama will rise or fall based not so much on what he does but on
what we do to support him."
Moore has dabbled in acting, following a 2000 supporting role in
as the cousin
of Lisa Kudrow
's character, who agrees
to be part of the scheme concocted by John
's character. He also had a cameo in his Canadian Bacon
as an anti-Canada
activist. In 2004, he did a cameo, as a news journalist, in
in the lead.
Between 1994 and 1995, he directed and hosted the BBC television
, which followed the
format of news magazine shows but covered topics they avoid. The
series aired on BBC2
in the UK. The series
was also aired in the US on NBC
in 1994 for 9
episodes and again for 8 episodes on Fox
His other major series was The Awful Truth
satirized actions by big corporations and politicians. It aired on
in the UK, and the Bravo
network in the US, in 1999
Another 1999 series, Michael
, was aired in the UK only on Channel 4
, though it was broadcast from New York.
This show had a similar format to The Awful Truth
also incorporated phone-ins and a live stunt each week.
In 1999 Moore won the Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment
in Arts and Entertainment, for being the executive
producer and host of The Awful Truth
, where he was also
described as "muckraker, author and documentary filmmaker".
Moore has directed several music videos, including two for Rage Against the Machine
from The Battle of
: "Sleep Now
in the Fire
" and "Testify
threatened with arrest during the shooting of "Sleep Now in the
Fire", which was filmed on Wall Street; the city of New York had denied the band permission to play there,
although the band and Moore had secured a federal permit to
He also directed the video for R.E.M.
Way to Reno
" in 2001. Two years later, Moore directed a video
for the System of a Down
Appearances in other documentaries
- Moore appeared in The Drugging of Our Children, a 2005
documentary about over-prescription of psychiatric medication to
children and teenagers, directed by Gary
Null a proponent of Alternative
Medicine. In the film Moore agrees with Gary Null that Ritalin and other similar drugs are
over-prescribed, saying that they are seen as a "pacifier".
- Moore appeared on fellow Flint natives Grand Funk Railroad's edition of
Behind The Music.
- Moore appeared as an off-camera interviewer in Blood in the Face, a 1991
documentary about white supremacy
groups. The film centers around a neo-Nazi
gathering in Michigan.
- Moore appeared in The Yes
Men, a 2003 documentary about two men who pose as the
World Trade Organization.
appears during a segment concerning working conditions in Mexico and Latin America.
- Moore was interviewed for the 2004 documentary, The Corporation. One of his highlighted
quotes was: "The problem is the profit motive: for corporations,
there's no such thing as 'enough'".
- Moore appeared briefly in Alex
Jones's 2005 film Martial Law 9/11: Rise of the Police
State. Jones criticises Moore for not going into depth about
9/11 in his documentary Fahrenheit
9/11 and portraying Bush as an unassuming front man as
opposed to an active conspirator in 9/11, concluding that while it
may have not been his intention, Moore practically helped cover-up
9/11 instead of exposing the truth.
- Moore featured prominently in the 2005 documentary This Divided State, which followed
the heated level of controversy surrounding his visit to a
conservative city in the United States two weeks before the 2004
- Moore appeared in the 2006 documentary I'm Going to Tell You a
Secret, which chronicles Madonna during her 2004 Re-Invention
World Tour. Moore attended her show in New York City at Madison Square Garden.
- Moore featured in the 2008 documentary "Shooting Michael
Moore," which follows up on the lives of subjects featured in
Moore has authored three best-selling books:
- Downsize This!
about politics and corporate crime in the United States,
- Stupid White Men
(2001), ostensibly a critique of American domestic and foreign
policy but, by Moore's own admission, "a book of political humor,"
- Dude, Where's My
Country? (2003), an examination of the Bush family's relationships with Saudi royalty, the Bin Laden family, and the energy
industry, and a call-to-action for liberals in the 2004
Though Moore rejects the label "political activist
," he has been active
in promoting his political views. According to John Flesher
of the Associated Press
, Moore is known for his
"fiery left-wing populism
," and the political left have hailed him
as the "new Tom Paine
Moore was a high-profile guest at both the 2004 Democratic National
and the 2004 Republican National
, chronicling his impressions in USA Today
. He was criticized in a speech by
as "a disingenuous
film-maker." Moore laughed and waved as Republican attendees
jeered, later chanting "four more years." Moore gestured his thumb and finger
crowd, which translates into "loser."
During September and October 2004, Moore spoke at universities and
colleges in swing states
"Slacker Uprising Tour". The tour gave away ramen
people who promised to vote. This provoked public denunciations
from the Michigan Republican
and attempts to convince the government that Moore should
be arrested for buying votes, but since Moore did not tell the
"slackers" involved for whom
to vote, just to vote,
district attorneys refused to get involved. Quite possibly the
most controversial stop during the tour was Utah Valley
State College in Orem, Utah.
fight for his right to speak ensued and resulted in massive public
debates and a media blitz. Death threats, bribes and lawsuits
followed. The event was chronicled in the documentary film
Despite having supported Ralph Nader
Moore urged Nader not to run in the 2004 election
so as not to split the left vote. On Real Time with Bill Maher
Moore and Maher knelt before Nader to plead with him to stay out of
the race. In June 2004, Moore claimed he is not a member of the
Democratic party. Although Moore endorsed General Wesley Clark
for the Democratic
January 14, Clark withdrew from the primary race on February 11.
Moore drew attention when charging publicly that Bush was AWOL
during his service in the National Guard
, describing Bush
as "The Deserter" (see George W.
military service controversy
On April 21, 2008, Moore endorsed Barack
for President, stating that Hillary Clinton's recent
actions had been "disgusting."
Hurricane Gustav controversy
In 2008, as Hurricane Gustav
approached the Gulf Coast
as a Category 3/4 hurricane
, Moore told MSNBC
on August 29, 2008 that the hurricane is "proof that
there is a God
since it would be hitting land on the same day as the start of the
. He further said it is proof of God "to just
have it planned at the same time, that it would actually be on its
way to New
Orleans for day one of the Republican convention, up in the
Cities, at the top of the Mississippi River."
He also added,
"I mean, I certainly hope nobody gets hurt. I hope everybody's
taking cover." Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise
demanded an apology from Moore,
calling the remarks offensive and inappropriate, adding, "the God I
know would not share Michael Moore's glee for our plight." On
August 31, Moore posted a satirical letter to God on his website,
thanking Him for the timing of the storm but asking him to let it
die at sea so it would do no serious damage. Two days later, Moore
said of his Gustav comments on his website, "Never explain comedy
or satire or the ironic comment. Those who get it, get it. Those
who don't, never will."
Since 1990, Moore has been married to producer Kathleen Glynn, with
whom he has a stepdaughter named Natalie. They live in Traverse City, Michigan.
Moore describes himself as a Catholic
, but has said he disagrees
with church teaching on subjects such as abortion
- Stated in Moore's film, Capitalism: A Love Story,
- Primeau, FranÃ§ois. American Dissident, Lulu Press,
- MichaelMoore.com: The Day I Was To be Tarred and
- Emily Schultz, Michael Moore: A Biography, Ecw Press,
2005. pp. 47-54.
- Cockburn, Alexander. "Beat The Devil: Michael meets Mr. Jones,"
- Paul Mulshine. "A Stupid White Man and a Smart One."
Newark Star Ledger, 2003-03-03.
- Matt Labash. "Michael Moore, One-Trick Phony".
The Weekly Standard.
- The Philadelphia Inquirer: Inqlings | Michael
Moore takes on Glaxo. Michael Klein, 30 September 2005. Archive
- Common Dreams News Center: Drug Firms are on
the Defense as Filmmaker Michael Moore Plans to Dissect Their
Industry. Original Article - Elaine Dutka, L.A. Times, December 22,
2004. Archive accessed 2006-08-09.
- Chicago Tribune: Michael Moore turns camera
onto health care industry. Bruce Japsen, 3 October 2004. Archive
- CBC Sicko to have unofficial premiere at
Democratic fundraiser May 26, 2007. URL accessed 2007-10-14.
- Captain Mike Across America (2007).
- "Capitalism is evil," says new Michael Moore
film Reuters, Sep 6,
- Green Left Weekly: Rage against Wall Street.
Michael Moore, via MichaelMoore.com, date unspecified. URL accessed
- at the Internet Movie Database.
- Moore details his involvement in the audio commentary on the
& Me DVD.
- Stroll, John D. (Oct 23, 2009) "Michael Moore: A Love Story? Not So Much" The Wall
- Opinion Journal from the Wall Street Journal:
Unmoored from Reality. John Fund's Political Diary, 21 March 2003.
URL accessed 2006-08-29.
- Porton, Richard. " Weapon of mass instruction Michael Moore's Fahrenheit
9/11." Cineaste (22 September 2004). Retrieved 15
May 2009; see also Davy, Michael. Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11. Socialist
Worker. 10 July 2004. Retrieved 2009-05-15.
- Delegates relish McCain jab at filmmaker
Moore CNN.com. 2006-08-31.
- This Divided State official website. Accessed
- My Vote's for Obama (if I could vote) ...by Michael
- "Moore Under Fire for Saying Gustav Proof 'There Is
a God.'" Fox News,
August 30, 2008. Retrieved on 2008-08-30.
- "An open letter to God, from Michael Moore."
MichaelMoore.com, August 31, 2008. Retrieved on
- "Random thoughts from Michael Moore."
MichaelMoore.com, September 2, 2008. Retrieved on
- IMDb, Kathleen Glynn.