Michael Moore, clad in customary baseball cap, a black T-shirt, baggy trousers and white sneakers, strolled into the neo-Gothic splendor of Georgetown University’s Gaston Hall and began to talk.
“We as Americans have allowed a very small group of people to be highly skilled practitioners of one of the seven deadly sins,” he told his youthful and multinational audience on Friday, “and that sin, of course, is greed.”
The Oscar-winning film-maker, author and scourge of the American Right was schooled by Roman Catholic priests and after noting that Georgetown, whose main campus is in the eponymous, wealthy district of the US capital, was founded by Jesuits he scolded the inequalities pervading the modern day United States.
Back in the 1960s and 1970s, when he was growing up in the motor city of Flint, Michigan, the rich paid high taxes, but still lived well, he said. So too did the not-so-rich who had good homes, free education and job security.
Not so today, said the director of Bowling for Columbine, Fahrenheit 9/11, Sicko and Capitalism: A Love Story who is touring the United States and Canada to promote his just-published memoirs, Here Comes Trouble.
“What on earth got into us in these last 30 years where we thought we were doing ourselves good by creating a society that’s filled with so much poverty?” he asked, recalling the record 46.2 million Americans now living in poverty.
With his blend of confrontational interviewing and ironic humor, Moore, 57, is perhaps his generation’s best-known documentary filmmaker, winning an Academy Award for Bowling for Columbine and the Palme d’Or at Cannes for Fahrenheit 9/11.
Here Comes Trouble covers the years before he took up the movie camera, and in doing so it reveals the origins of his politics, clearly influenced by his outspoken, liberal-minded Irish American family.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 3rd, 2011.