Army of Mom

So this is how liberty dies ... with thunderous applause.

9.13.2004

My brush with Michael Wilson, filmmaker

I have been carrying on about going to see this film since I found out I would be able to go last Wednesday. Last night I finally got to see "Michael Moore Hates America." The documentary by first-time filmmaker Michael Wilson. One reason I was so excited about going to see the film was that Wilson would be there for a Q&A afterwards. I spotted him when we first arrived, but, I have a tendency to get star struck and hesitate so I didn't go over to him immediately. I didn't have anything appropriate for him to sign, so we went in to get our seats and then I decided to go back out and search for him. I found him sitting at the bar this time, talking with his publicist. I asked for a snapshot and told him that I was really looking forward to the film and that I had been blogging about it and would blog more about it. He was very kind and genuine and seemed genuinely interested in my blog. I wrote the website down on a business card and gave it to him. Here is my pic. I was still in my Cowboys jersey. No smart remarks, by the way.


I came back to him a few minutes later after I'd been wandering around. I had found a promo piece to get signed. He remembered my blog site in the autograph. I thought that was cool. Hopefully, he'll surf by sometime. He'd be welcome to grab a beer and pull up a chair.

The film was thoroughly entertaining. Very amusing. You can tell he made it using his MasterCard as the main source of funding. It is low-budget and within that lies some of its charm. Before the movie, Wilson introduced it : The goal was for me and a camera to try and tell this little story that became bigger than I ever dreamed. It is the fulfillment of my American dream.

He summed up the central theme of the movie in that one small sentence, but I didn't realize it until the end of the movie.

MMHA is a documentary. I think that is a fair name for the kind of film this is. I think it would get a wider audience with a more appropriate name because it really isn't a hate-film directed at Michael Moore. I honestly believe that. Wilson shares the same distaste for Moore that I do, but he lets people on both sides of the issue speak in this film. There were pro-Moore folks and anti-Moore folks. There were people with no opinion about him whatsoever. Yes, his purpose was to debunk some of the lies Moore purports as the truth. Moore distorts the truth, keeping just enough snippets of it present to make his concoctions believable and palatable. The movie starts with clips of Moore saying he loved America, then turning around and telling Australian media that "The worst thing you can do is become like America."

Wilson speaks with a wide range of people from comedians to documentary filmmakers to everyday people. He goes through part of his life, growing up in Minnesota. His dad was laid off, but he didn't blame someone else for his misfortune. He told Wilson that America is a great country where the opportunities are there if you seize them. This was the first taste of the American dream.

As the movie progresses, Wilson speaks with many who were featured in Moore's "Bowling for Columbine" and "F 9/11" and allows them to speak truthfully their thoughts without being turned into a soundbite that supports Moore's bullshit. He speaks to NRA officials, he has a shrink touting his opinions of Moore's actions and works, he speaks with the bankers who were portrayed as handing out guns for new accounts, and even a disabled veteran that was shown in F 9/11.

It was made in a "Roger & Me" style only this time Michael Moore wasn't the little guy who couldn't get an interview with his subject. This time Moore blew off Wilson. There is footage of Wilson trying repeatedly to make contact with Moore including getting in line for a Q&A at the University of Minnesota. Moore accuses Wilson of libel and slander for the name of his movie.

There were two parts that struck me the most. One was of Sgt. Peter Damon. Injured in Iraq, he lost both his hands and now has prosthetic hooks, essentially. Moore portrayed him as some helpless sheep led astray in this war. Damon was featured in an NBC news story about how the military was taking care of the wounded. He thought his 15 minutes of fame were over until an acquaintance told him about his appearance in F 9/11. "I just wish he would have left me out of it," Damon said. "I don't agree with what he is doing." He said he was 27 when he joined the military in an effort to straighten out his life and win his wife and child back. Even after losing both of his arms, he stressed that his life is better today than it was before. "We all know we could be killed. We're not idiots ... that is the reason we go off to fight - for his right to make his movie."

The second part was the most compelling of the story. It was a string of pieces of the puzzle to debunk Moore's claim that Americans are stupid and need the government to take care of us. Wilson showed young people and old alike - everyday people like you and me - who are struggling to make that American dream come to life. He showed a man who changed careers to support his four children. He showed a 23-year-old who opened his own coffee shop. There are many examples over and again.

Another point stressed in the film is Wilson's belief that we all have a voice and we all have a right to speak our opinions. My favorite quote in the movie: Michael Moore is free to make an asshole of himself. David Horowitz shared that one.

Wilson pulls out many false claims Moore makes in his interviews and movies, but it isn't just a movie about Moore. It is bigger than that. It is a movie about working hard to solve our own problems. Look at Sgt. Damon. He doesn't want a hand out. America is all about possibilities and you are free to find your own answers.

After the movie ended, the Q&A started. Wilson said his own righteous indignation influenced him to make this movie. In "Bowling for Columbine" Moore talks about a shooting where the shooter came from a home with a welfare mom who couldn't be there for her kids and this is what happened. Wilson said this pissed him off because his mom worked two full-time jobs and went to school full-time, but she put being a mother first. He felt like Moore insulted his mother. He took it personally.

Shooting this movie changed Wilson, too. *good question asked by Army of Dad regarding how it changed him*

"It became my story and my vision of America and became less about Michael Moore and more about them. I'm just some dude from Minnesota. We all have that power to make our voices heard," Wilson said. He said the name of the movie does turn a lot of people away, but them he added "screw 'em" if they don't like it.

I asked Wilson what he hoped people would take away from seeing this movie. I felt it was about the American dream being alive and well and there for the taking. He agreed.

You can see a couple of trailers for the film at
http://www.michaelmoorehatesamerica.com/trailer_sm.html

Wilson said he would be at the Liberty Film Fest in Los Angeles and I believe the Smash Film Fest somewhere in the Midwest in the coming weeks. He is in discussions for the film to be widely distributed to movie theaters. He hopes that will happen in October.

8 Comments:

  • At 2:34 PM, September 13, 2004, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    The welfare mom thing was about the kindergartner who shot a classmate in (I think)Detroit. My favorite line was how his film is just basically calling bullshit on Moore.

     
  • At 4:10 PM, September 13, 2004, Blogger Doug said…

    Great review. I've been looking forward to this one, and this was very insightful.

    BTW... It's the SMAASH fest in Minneapolis (technically held in a nearby 'burb). Stands for "Strictly Midwest Movies And Short Hits."

     
  • At 4:26 PM, September 13, 2004, Blogger gone_1 said…

    Is this film going to be released nationwide? I'd like to see it, but I hope I didn't miss my chance yesterday.

    (Glad to see you were in your Cowboys jersey. I was so depressed yesterday after the game.)

     
  • At 4:37 PM, September 13, 2004, Blogger Army of Mom said…

    Thanks Doug. I was going from my notes and I had even missed the name of that one, so fortunately Army of Dad heard it. And, Kat, yes, Wilson is looking to do a national distribution to movie theaters just as F 9-11 was. Should be interested. He mentioned hoping it would be ready for the first week of October.

     
  • At 4:54 PM, September 13, 2004, Blogger gone_1 said…

    As one geek to another: "THX-1138" is playing at the Magnolia in Dallas. It's only there until Thursday, so I may drag my sick ass over see it.

    It is going to be released on DVD tomorrow, if I miss it.

     
  • At 11:13 AM, April 13, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Why do we have to see only Mike Moore's shit here in Europe? I'm looking forward to see MMHA here, in my country

     
  • At 12:58 AM, September 14, 2008, Anonymous Erik said…

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

     
  • At 12:58 PM, September 14, 2008, Blogger Army of Mom said…

    I really hate trolls. Go back to hiding under a bridge.

     

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