BY THOMAS CHAN
For the Daily
Published September 18, 2008
Filmmaker Michael Moore premiered his film, “Slacker Uprising,” at the Michigan Theater last night, saying he hoped it would inspire audience members to get involved in the political process.
The movie, slated to launch on the Internet for free Tuesday, follows Moore on his tour of swing states during the 2004 presidential election. The tour was a series of large rallies, most of them on college campuses, aimed at increasing young voters’ turnout, or “slackers” as he calls them.
Students, Ann Arbor residents and people from across the state started lining up for the film as early as 1 p.m. — about four hours before the event was scheduled to start. More than 1,700 attended the first screening. Because of the theater’s limited seating capacity, a second screening was held to accommodate those who could not attend the first.
Moore said he released the film for free as a thank-you gift to those who have supported his films over the years and to promote the upcoming presidential election.
“I thought it might inspire young people to come out and vote,” Moore said. “I’m hoping that people will download it and share it.”
Before screening the movie, Moore spoke for about an hour and a half. His message varied between irreverent jokes, bemoaning the Bush administration and urging the audience to participate in the political process.
Moore said he had a “few modest proposals for President Obama.” One of them was to reinstate the draft, but to only draft the children of families in the 95th income percentile. Such a proposal would probably cause the end of U.S. involvement in wars, he said half-jokingly.
Kaitlin and Olivia Wylie, sisters and students at Washtenaw Community College, waited in line with lawn chairs and blank voter registration forms.
“Michael Moore’s an inspiration,” Olivia Wylie said. “I think that he’s made a huge impact on society in a great way.”
The audience frequently broke into applause and gave Moore a standing ovation after his talk, but it wasn’t without its critics.
“I thought it was informative — although I remain a bit of a skeptic,” said Engineering senior Ilana Riback. “It would be easy to misrepresent information taken out of context.”
Moore encouraged the audience to donate to fundraisers located in the theater’s lobby for Democrats challenging Republican incumbent congressmen in Michigan.
Frequently emphasizing the importance of turning out young voters, Moore noted that the highest recorded turnout for 18- to 29-year-olds was in 2004. He suggested that their turnout was the reason that presidential election was so close.
Brady Smith, chair of the University’s chapter of College Republicans, said he agreed with Moore’s message of political involvement but warned of bias in the film.
“Civic engagement is important,” said Smith, who didn't attend the screening. However, he said he hoped viewers wouldn’t be “swayed by a one-sided movie” and that they would seek out multiple sources of information.
“Voting’s great, but an informed vote is even better,” he said.