New York Magazine

THE THANKLESS TASK OF BEING MICHAEL MOORE

He’s been right about everything before, and he really thinks you are living in a bubble.

YOU’D THINK THAT by now They would have stopped giving Michael Moore such a hard time. Everything he portended in Roger & Me, his 1989 film about the impact of the closing of General Motors plants on his hometown of Flint, Michigan, and everything he has been banging on about for 30 years since—outsourcing, automation, corporate hegemony, moral and political corruption, elite apathy and greed, the decimation of the middle class, angry white people, the fear and loathing of the far right—all of it has come home to roost, in the form of a very large, very orange turkey in the White House.

Which, by the way, Moore also predicted. “I’m sorry to have to kind of be the buzzkill here so early on, but I think Trump is going to win,” he said on Bill Maher’s show in July 2016, going on to precisely outline how this unthinkable event would unfold. The audience booed him. But when the smoke cleared, Moore looked—especially to those who remembered his unpopular but accurate speech at the 2003 Oscars denouncing the war in Iraq—like a prophet, a Cassandra in a T-shirt.

“I think of him as like the oracle of Delphi,” says the director D. A. Pennebaker, who knows his Greek history. “People listen to him because they want to know what he thinks, because they want to know what they should think. And Michael sees it first. That’s why he’s the oracle. Because what you get from the oracle is an answer to a question that you don’t know how to ask. I’m always intrigued by the Greeks,” he goes on. “They sounded like such reasonable people and they were always in the wrong.”

They are also reasonable people, which is why you might expect They would give the guy some credit. Because these are dark times, and it is more important than ever to do the right thing, which in this case might be to show a little respect. To say “In the big picture, he was right.” Especially since They have been so wrong.

So very, very wrong.

Devastatingly, consequentially wrong.

But no. The murmuring began just after 10 p.m. on August 10, right around the time Moore was crossing the threshold into the Bryant Park Grill. The occasion was a party celebrating his Broadway debut, at 63, in his one-man show The Terms of My Surrender, a feel-good, indignation-inspiring romp in which Moore shares stories about his life, his thoughts about Donald Trump, and the name of a handy app you can use to call your representatives to rail about Republicans. The show—the modest goal of which, according to the tagline, is to “take down a sitting president”—is the opening salvo of a coming Moore shock-and-awe campaign that will eventually include a TNT series, Michael Moore: Live From the Apocalypse, and a movie, Fahrenheit 11/9 (named “for the day when Trump was elected president at 2 a.m.,” says his Fahrenheit 9/11 partner Harvey Weinstein, who will produce). To celebrate the occasion, there had been a literal parade from the theater, a flag-waving procession of friends, family, and audience members, including Rosie O’Donnell, Christie Brinkley, Phil Donahue, Marlo Thomas, Dan Rather, and Gloria Steinem, led by a patriotically attired drag performer named Machine Dazzle and accompanied by an all-female brass band.

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