April 4, 2002

Michael Moore Speaks About His Book, Life After Sept. 11

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Greeted with applause despite his tardiness, satirist Michael Moore spoke to the crowd of about 900 at the Statler Auditorium yesterday. Known best for his documentary “Roger and Me” and his television show “TV Nation,” Moore discussed reactions to his new book, his upcoming movie, and his views on America’s current political situation.

Moore began his lecture, titled “Corporations, Class, and Globalization,” with a loud cry of “Ithaca!”

Joking about his tardiness, he blamed the appearance of the “town drunk” at his lecture at the State Theater earlier in the day for the delay.

“The good thing about the town drunk showing up, [it] shows that we’ve crossed over. … It’s like we’ve really reached a large audience,” he said.

After briefly commenting on the Enron scandal and 2000 presidential election, Moore discussed the success of his new book, Stupid White Men and Other Sorry Excuses for the State of the Nation. Although publisher Harper Collins had printed 50,000 copies of the book by Sept. 10, they refused to ship the book after the events of Sept. 11.

“Mike, we have a problem with the book. It’s not keeping with the political climate,” Moore quoted from the publisher. “What are they, meteorologists?”

Moore then went into an extended, emotional rant about his struggle in getting his book published.

To his editor’s suggestion of writing a new chapter reflecting on the events of Sept. 11, Moore responded, “[It] would be titled ‘The Sad and Sordid Whereabouts of … Bin Bush.'”

When Moore refused to compromise, the vice-president of Harper Collins told him that they would “pulp” the book.

“I’m sinking and I’m sinking … and I’m thinking why don’t I drink…?” he said, describing his emotional state at the time.

However, after receiving angry e-mails from Moore’s fans, Harper Collins agreed to publish the book uncensored. Now Stupid White Men tops the New York Times Best Seller list, much to Moore’s surprise.

Moore then segued into a rant on the current state of education and American culture.

“We’re learning the 3 Cs — consistency, complacency, conformity,” he said.

He said that the accumulation of college loans and debt force young people into jobs they hate.

“If you start living that way now … you go out and have a miserable life,” he said.

Comparing the United States to Canada, he said that people in the United States cannot escape jobs they hate for fear OF losing benefits, compared to the national health care they have in Canada.

“Ask any Canadians if they would like to trade their health care card for your shitty HMO card!”

Moore then continued on to discuss the economic effects on Sept. 11.

“Due to 9/11, due to 9/11? These people have no respect? They would use the dead to lay off? … It’s a disgrace!”

After expressing his thoughts on corporate America, Moore discussed his view of left-wing politics.

“Americans are very liberal on the issues … but they don’t like to elect liberal leaders … because they know the Democrats don’t have the courage of their convictions,” he said.

“I admire the right-wingers because they have the courage. … They’re up at the crack of dawn trying to figure out how to screw the poor.”

After encouraging his audience to act on their beliefs, Moore showed part of his new movie, “Bowling for Columbine.” A discussion of violence in light of the shooting at Columbine High School, the movie features a variety of interviews and film clips. In making the movie, Moore interviewed a diverse group of people, ranging from a employee at the Littleton Lockheed Martin plant to a member of the Michigan Militia.

Following the film clip, Moore held a “lightning” question and answer session, where he limited questions and answers to 10 words or less.

During the session, Matt Hirsch ’02, a former Sun News Editor, approached the stage and presented Moore with a fake check of $10,000, Moore’s honorarium for the appearance.

Despite lack of a microphone, Hirsch told the audience that Moore made more money off of this one speech than many teaching paraprofessionals make in one year.

“Motherfucker … You come down with your check making a big-ass statement. … I give this money away to organizations I support,” Moore responded angrily.

After the lecture, Hirsch explained his actions.

“When one person’s time — and a short time at that — is worth $10,000, there’s a serious problem in the way in which we value people.”

“I support what he says and I support the work he does,” added Hirsch.

Overall, audience response appeared very positive.

“I thought he was going to be a little more reserved, he wasn’t afraid to speak out,” said Ithaca resident Jon Widerchantz. “I think it charged me up, it gives people hope that there’s someone speaking up for the masses, for the working people.”

Kevin Odekon grad also expressed his appreciation of Moore’s honesty.

“It’s nice to hear someone say how progressive the American public really is … It’s a socially destructive myth that we’re conservative,” he said.

Archived article by Shannon Brescher