Friday, Nov. 25 -- Since the always-controversial Oscar winner Michael Moore shot to stardom in 1989 with “Roger & Me,” a documentary focusing on the negative effects of General Motors plants closing in Flint, the film director, author, and activist hasn’t strayed far from his Mitten State roots, even after scoring massive commercial successes with “Bowling for Columbine” and “Fahrenheit 9/11.” The 57-year-old Traverse City resident recently released “Here Comes Trouble,” an autobiography focused on his earliest years. Moore will discuss the new book and some current political topics Tuesday at the Michigan State University Auditorium.
What will you be discussing at the Wharton Center?
“I’m on my ‘Here Comes Trouble’ book tour. I’ll be speaking about what’s going on politically these days, especially Occupy Wall Street. I’ve been traveling the country for the last two months. I’ve visited many of the Occupy sites, many campuses. There’s a lot going on and I will report what I’ve witnessed, what others are saying, and what I think needs to happen now. I think it’s a really critical and important time for all of us to get together and move forward. In addition to talking politics I will also read some bedtime stories from the book.”
What do you think of how the Occupy Wall Street protestors have been treated by police? It seems like the 1960s again.
“It’s not even that, because the protestors now are all so non-violent. The response is so over the top. But the police are acting on the orders of those in power, those in charge, and those who pay their bills – the ones who are not happy with this movement. It’s a majority movement. A majority of Americans now believe in the basic principles of Occupy Wall Street. A majority of Americans want regulations put on Wall Street. They want an investigation and prosecution of those who committed crimes that caused the crash of 2008. A majority of Americans want taxes raised on the rich. You go down a whole list of things, and a majority of Americans agree with the principles of Occupy Wall Street.”
Do you feel Occupy Wall Street has a clear vision? Many say it lacks focus.
“I think people who don’t understand it, or maybe are against it, say that. They have a website, they’re very clear about what they believe in – it’s not ‘they,’ it’s me too. I don’t just go down there to talk to them. I’m a part of the movement; I’ve been a part of it since the very beginning.”
Why did you decide to write about your childhood in “Here Comes Trouble”?
“I’ve wanted to write this book for a long time. These are stories that I’ve carried with me since I was a child. All the stories take place before I even make my first film. They are stories that are set in Michigan, about growing up in Michigan, about becoming politically aware in Michigan. A very good story in the book is set on the campus of Michigan State University, in June of 1971. I spent a week there as a teenager. Even though its stories from my life it’s very relevant to what’s happening right now.”
Why do you choose to live in Traverse City, instead of New York or Hollywood?
“I’m a Michigander, I love it here. I have to work a lot in New York and Hollywood. It’s OK to work there, but not necessarily the best place to live. This is the best place to live.”
You said you just got back from a speaking event in Flint. Is Flint better or worse since you made “Roger & Me” in 1989?
“It’s much worse from when I made ‘Roger & Me.’ When I made ‘Roger & Me’ there were still 50,000 General Motors jobs in Flint; now, there’s less than 10,000.”
While you’re busy right now with the book, when will you start another documentary?
“I’ll make my next film next year. I’m knocking around a few ideas right now and I’ll make my decision over the holidays.”
What do you think of Obama so far?
“I voted for him. I think he’s an incredible individual, but I’d be less than honest if I said I wasn’t disappointed with his failure to get more done in his first three years.”
It seems like Obama is trying to keep both sides happy for some reason – I don’t know why he’s doing that.
“I don’t know either, because he was elected with a 10 million vote margin. The American people were very clear that they wanted significant change and he came in acting like a politician and trying to find compromise with people with no interest in compromising with him. A lot of time has been wasted.”
Do you have any final thoughts?
“We live in a great state – and we’re in the midst of a depression. Our political leaders, especially the current ones, have failed us. So there’s a lot of work we need to do. But I believe we can turn things around.”
"An Evening with Michael Moore"
Tuesday, Nov. 29
MSU Students $5 with valid ID