Michael Moore is probably the scruffiest guy with the most class currently working the political-cum-media-cum-book signing circuit.
Today that circuit will bring him to Ann Arbor, notorious bastion of liberalism and epicenter of Midwest style and broadminded (read: left-wing) political thought.
Moore will be speaking at the Michigan Theater at 5 p.m. this afternoon to promote his new book and instant bestseller “Stupid White Men.”
“Stupid White Men … and Other Sorry Excuses for the State of the Nation,” Moore’s third book after “Downsize This,” a deconstruction of the evils of corporate America, and “Adventures in a TV Nation,” which fondly recounts some of the more memorable episodes of Moore’s “magazine” show TV Nation, debuted at No. 3 on The New York Times bestseller list and a No. 1 in Amazon.com sales. What Moore calls “my personal favorite for a good laugh,” in his online book-tour diary: Last week, “Stupid White Men” also appeared at No. 4 in the Wall Street Journal’s bestseller list.
An appearance in Michigan for Moore will be more than the standard stop on his whirlwind cross-country journey. Moore, whose father was an autoworker for General Motors in Flint, made his celebrity with the 1989 feature-length documentary “Roger and Me.” The film tracks his quest to meet the chairman of General Motors, Roger Smith, to ask him why GM had devastated Flint, transforming a once vibrant manufacturing city into a “ghost town.”
Moore’s other film credits include “Pets or Meat: The Return to Flint,” “The Big One” and most notably, “Canadian Bacon,” an honest embrace of every true American’s favorite object of ethnic hatred, Canadians.
The last time Moore’s agenda brought him to the Michigan Theater, he was on the campaign trail for Ralph Nader, serving as right hand man to the candidate who shook up the unprecedented 2000 presidential election (and who eventually fired Moore).
The release of “Stupid White Men,” originally slated for publication on Oct. 2, was delayed by the publisher for obvious reasons of terrible timing. Scandal and controversy surrounded its appearance on bookstore shelves as publisher HarperCollins demanded that Moore rewrite as much 50 percent of the book to reflect and respect the significantly more delicate political climate following Sept. 11. HarperCollins also asked that Moore to contribute $100,000 from his royalties to help defray the publishing giant’s cost of reprinting the already produced first 50,000 copies of a 100,000 book press run.
In a Salon.com article, an outraged Moore commented, “They wanted me to censor myself and then pay for the right to censor myself.”
Ann Sparanese, an Englewood, N.J. librarian rallied behind Moore and reminded HarperCollins of the fear that librarians are capable of inspiring in those normally not faint of heart. The book that is now toppling bestsellers lists ran in its original form.
In the “A Very American Coup,” the first chapter of “Stupid White Men,” Moore establishes the framework for what becomes a 277-page rant against the president select, the commander-in-thief, George W. Bush. In his tirade that encompasses the inauguration of an illegitimate president, Moore implores in a desperate mock-message “intercepted by the United Nations” whoever might be listening:
“…On behalf of 234 million Americans held hostage, I have requested that NATO do what it did in Bosnia and Kosovo, what America did in Haiti, what Lee Marvin did in The Dirty Dozen:
“Send in the Marines! Launch the SCUD missiles! Bring us the head of Antonin Scalia!”
Irreverent at both its best and worst, “Stupid White Men” is the swift kick in the ass that the United States and its shadow government needs. It is exactly the kind of read that might do Bush some good, between pretzel induced gasping and energetic waves at blind musical legends.
Books, films and general crankiness aside, Michael Moore, in a baseball cap, sweatshirt and barely-tied sneakers, a guy who never went to college and needs a haircut, has assumed an esteemed place as one of the great Socratic gadflies of American society. Like Noam Chomsky, Moore calls it like he sees it with sharp perception, keen analysis and zero-tolerance for bullshit. Unlike Chomsky, he’s got an unbelievable sense of humor.