No matter who you are, you likely have strong feelings about Michael Moore. Maybe you think he’s a brilliant satirist. Maybe you think he’s a noble American. Maybe you think he’s a hackneyed propagandist.
No matter who you are, you likely have strong feelings about Michael Moore.
Maybe you think he’s a brilliant satirist. Maybe you think he’s a noble American. Maybe you think he’s a hackneyed propagandist.
Chances are it’s a little of all three.
Still, no matter what you think about the author, filmmaker and yes, American icon, the man has never been boring.
But Slacker Uprising, his recent film, is.
Now that the election is over, it’s time to take a look at Slacker Uprising, a painfully self-aggrandizing piece of “Get Out the Vote” agitprop released for free on the Internet in September, without the haze of pre-vote excitement.
Sure the film has a decent, if obvious point. Youth must vote and stand up for the things they care about. That’s step one to crafting a good documentary.
But step two, and the real trick, is making the film hold up as a piece of entertainment, like other Moore films. Years from now, after we trudge past the Bush-era, will we rent this film like we might Roger and Me or Bowling for Columbine?
No. And for Moore’s legacy and career I hope people forget all about this detour into dullness.
The film chronicles Moore’s 62-city journey across America on his 2004 “Slacker Uprising” tour, which drew ten’s of thousands of college students and others out of apathy to take a stand against Bush and put John Kerry into office. They rallied, the made signs, they yelled at conservatives, they worked to get out the damn vote.
It worked out well didn’t it?
You can’t really knock Moore’s tour or film for that, but the question that immediately pops up while watching the movie is, “What’s the point?”
The only thing I got out of the film is that Michael Moore knows famous people, such as Eddie Vedder, R.E.M. and Viggo Mortensen, who all make unsmiling appearances, and he truly cares about the cause. But I already knew that.
Watching Slacker Uprising is like undergoing A Clockwork Orange‘s Ludovico Technique. Only instead of staring at violence while listening to Beethoven you stare at a “VOTE!” poster and every 20 minutes someone whispers a Bush joke in your ear.
Here is an entirely non-scientific breakdown of the film’s runtime:-37 minutes of chanting, and possibly stoned, college students.-28 minutes of lame musical performances by extremely irrelevant musicians such as Tom Morello and Steve Earle.-15 minutes of Michael Moore looking concerned as people explain how shitty life can get.-10 minutes of bumper sticker-like jokes.-Zero minutes of insight.
The film could have been whittled down into a 15-minute Obama-mercial easily, since that is obviously the purpose here even if our exalted new leader’s name was not uttered once.
The experiment of releasing the over $2 million-budgeted documentary for free is the only reason anyone is even discussing this film.
Moore has made three out of five of the highest grossing documentaries of all time, and if this one had received a real theatrical release, it would have failed miserably, critically and financially. It makes me wonder whether the “noble” form of distribution–which Moore says is a gift to his fans–is really a way to save his reputation by tricking the consumer. I hope not.
People are less likely to complain about quality when they get something for free, right?
Still, if someone taps you on the shoulder and gives you a frighteningly undercooked piece of chicken, would you eat it just because it was free?
No, you would refuse it, no matter how hungry you were.
As a nation we were hungry to make a difference, as proven by Tuesday’s monumental election, but our appetite is satiated for now, and we have no need for lazy, unentertaining propaganda like Slacker Uprising.
Slacker Uprising1.5 stars (out of five)Download for free at slackeruprising.com/download/