Michael Moore is an American film-maker, author, writer and speaker. He is world-renowned for his work and criticisms on world leaders, capitalism, globalization, gun laws and the American healthcare system. He has been labelled by many as a political activist, but he rejected the term saying,
“I and you and everyone else has to be a political activist. If we’re not politically active, it ceases to be a democracy.”
Michael was born in Flint, Michigan and was actively involved in drama and debate in school. Once when he was younger, he went on a trip to the south and was asked to give a speech on Abraham Lincoln by the Elks Club, an American fraternal order founded in 1868. Before the speech he noticed a toilet labelled “colored” and used it even though he was white, to protest against the racism by the members of the club.
He then went on to give the speech but instead of talking about Lincoln, he criticized the organization while the club leader was present. This incident was huge and news agencies were called in for interviews. This event clearly shows how he stood up against atrocities people had to face even in his childhood years.
Self-described as “kind of a strange child,” Moore’s films and life were heavily influenced by his surroundings. After dropping out of high school, Michael goes on to start his own newspaper which got little advertising because of its sting operations it conducted on local businesses.
His first film, Roger & Me, discussed the fallout from General Motors’ outsourcing of jobs from his home town of Flint, Michigan to Mexico. The economic fallout of this led to Flint being named the worst city in America to live, with many of Moore’s friends being severely affected. The film won an Emmy, but led to General Motors to threaten to pull advertising from any TV station that would interview Moore.
The hornet’s nest had been kicked.
Roger & Me was a huge part of his successful career, and set the tone for Moore to speak out about topics that would cause discomfort among the powerful and wealthy. He then went on to produce many award winning documentaries such as Bowling for Columbine, Fahrenheit 9/11 and Capitalism: A Love Story . He has also written many successful books, expanding on the topics of his films.
What we can learn from Moore is that your personal experience dictates what you feel is valuable and just; despite plenty of reasons to not make these films, he saw plenty of reasons why people should be exposed to these topics.
While we have people in our support networks to tell us if we’re making a genuinely wrong choices, sometimes our gut needs to be the impetus for change. Don’t be dissuaded by potential repercussions if you feel something needs to be said; remain self-aware, hard-working and humble.