Suzanne Fields

Michael Moore is the perfect antiwar action man for our time. He's the post-modern Norman Mailer, playing to image rather than word. Norman Mailer wrote a good novel a long time ago. Moore is a celebrity propagandist puffed up by a culture of sycophants long on emotion and short on intellect.

Norman Mailer, established by his war novel ("The Naked and the Dead"), chronicled the '60s in slick magazines of literary pretension. The screenplay has replaced the novel as the default mode of "literary" protest, so Michael Moore makes documentaries and the media claque anoints him as Leni Riefenstahl with a scruffy beard. But his seriousness, if you can call it that, is accomplished with buffoonery. He titillates with hypocrisy, distortion and manufactured controversy.

"Moore, the king-sized millionaire, walking testament to American consumption, is a master of making himself appear the little guy," writes Andrew Anthony in the London Observer. He portrays himself as the voice of the working class, but that's fraudulent, too. He grew up in a middle-class suburb of Flint, Mich., in a two-car family and his father could afford to send three children to college.

Michael told reporters on the way to Cannes that Disney, trying to kill his film, had dropped distribution of his film "Fahrenheit 9/11" because Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida had threatened to "endanger" millions of dollars worth of tax breaks for its amusement park at Orlando.

It turned out that Disney had never agreed to distribute the film and had told him so a year earlier. Michael said Mel Gibson's company, Icon Productions, dropped distribution because Mel got a call from the White House from "someone" who told him that if Icon distributed Michael's film he would never get another invitation from the president. Neither Michael nor Mel nor anyone else could identify the mystery caller.

Michael makes up stories. When he doesn't make up the stories he rearranges them, manipulating chronology to make his points. His "factoids" - Norman Mailer's term for things that seem to be facts but actually aren't true - were amply exposed in his movie "Bowling for Columbine," which Dave Kopel of National Review calls a "mockumentary,"

Like Norman Mailer, he's quick to play the race card. It was Mailer who said America went to war in Iraq to cure the malaise of the white American male who, angered that black men had taken over football, basketball, and boxing, had maintained dominance only of the military officers corps: "So Bush knew that a big victory in an easy war would work for the good white American male."

Suzanne Fields

Suzanne Fields is currently working on a book that will revisit John Milton's 'Paradise Lost.'

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