By Craig Parr
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Here Comes Trouble

This article is over 10 years, 2 months old
Michael Moore
Issue 363

Michael Moore’s latest offering, Here Comes Trouble, charts his life from humble beginnings into a documentary tsar and political activist. The book starts with Moore at the height of his fame and most controversial: “I am thinking of killing Michael Moore and I’m wondering whether I can do it myself,” announces Glenn Beck live on TV. Moore tells us how his friends warned him, “There is no man in America, other than President Bush, who is in more danger than you.”

Moore seems to quite enjoy the notoriety. On 23 March 2003 when George Bush invaded Iraq with over 70 percent support in public opinion polls in the US, Moore denounced him during his Oscar acceptance speech for Bowling for Columbine. He shouted, “Mr Bush, shame on you, shame on you – any time you have the Pope and the Dixie Chicks against you – your time is up.”

Moore grew up in a small neighbourhood in Flint, Michigan, with his parents Veronia, a secretary, and Frank Moore, an automotive assembly-line worker. Moore’s uncle LaVerne famously took part in the Flint Sit-Down Strike of 1936 and was one of the founders of the United Automobile Workers labour union. Moore speaks fondly of his childhood “stalking deer, rabbits and raccoons, BB guns and bows and arrows”. When he joins school his first teacher, Mrs Beachum, the only black teacher in a school with only three black children, becomes an early inspiration to him.

Moore dropped out of university and founded the weekly magazine The Flint Voice, later renamed The Michigan Voice, and in 1986 the liberal political magazine The Mother Jones.

Moore’s first attempt at making documentaries was made after a call from James Ridgeway, a political columnist from the New York Times who wanted to make use of Moore’s good media contacts. Ridgeway wanted to make a documentary on the rise of the extreme right wing in the Midwest in the wake of the Reagan recession.

Moore’s sharp wit and ease with others got him access to the Nazis and information others simply could not get. He seemed born a natural documentary maker. Moore is a good writer and the stories that make up the book are fascinating. Clearly Moore views himself as a courageous David taking on the Goliaths of the corporate gun lobby, the Bush administration and, with his most recent film, Capitalism: A Love Story, the system as a whole.

What the book lacks is real insight into where his political ideals and insights come from. Yes, we get the street he lived on as a child – and even his birth – which I remain unsure as to how Moore remembers. We get his school years, and his description of how his career began to take off, but we don’t get the sparks of conviction that led to Moore creating some of the most hard-hitting and popular documentaries of our times.

Here Comes Trouble is published by Allen Lane, £20.00

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