Michael Moore is an American documentary filmmaker, author, producer, actor and political activist. His debut film ‘Roger & Me’ became the highest-grossing American documentary at the time of its release. He is best known for a series of documentaries that are mostly controversial. Michael Moore, who is also an activist, has always voiced his political views in a satirical manner, for which he has often been criticized by the big daddies of politics. Some of his most successful movies are ‘Bowling for Columbine’, ‘Fahrenheit 9/11’ and ‘Capitalism: A Love Story’, all of which have earned over 300 million Dollars till date. Winner of the prestigious Palme d'Or and the Academy Award, Moore, over the years, has gained the support of millions by educating them about some of the most important contemporary issues through his films.
Childhood & Early Life
Michael Moore was born on April 23, 1954 in Flint, a suburb of Michigan, an economically depressed city. His father was a worker at the General Motors assembly line.
Moore grew up in a devout Catholic family and attended Catholic primary and middle school. He was a member of Boy Scouts and enjoyed outdoor sports such as hunting. He later became a member of the National Rifle Association (NRA).
Following his graduation from Davison High School, Moore began writing on what he viewed as the injustices of American capitalism. In 1976, he dropped out from the University of Michigan and started working for the radical weekly newspaper, The Flint Voice, which he edited for 10 years.
He was later hired to edit the San Francisco based magazine, Mother Jones, but was fired after a few months. In 1972, he became the youngest elected official in the country and nine months later, he took the office of the Davison School Board.
Moore came into conflict with other members of the school board as he was in support of student’s rights and the teacher’s union. He was even subjected to the aggression of the school committee, for he reported the illegal acts of the administrators to a local prosecutor.
Moore was now constantly battling with other members of the school board over issues like student’s rights, school rules and administration's secret meetings.
A petition to remove Moore from the board was circulated, for he tried to get an elementary school named after the civil rights leader, Martin Luther King, in a district that was majorly populated by the whites. Moore successfully overturned the petition, even though it was signed by most of the board members.
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He began as a writer for the weekly newspaper, The Flint Voice, and soon became its editor. He was also given credit for expanding the coverage and popularity of the newspaper, The Michigan Voice.
He took up sensitive subjects that no other newspaper even thought of publishing at that time and that caught the attention of the publisher of the magazine, Mother Jones, who offered him a job as the managing editor.
Moore's next move was to make a documentary film and he came up with ‘Roger & Me’ in 1989. He followed up with a sequel to this film in 1992 and titled it as ‘Pets or Meat: The Return to Flint’. His next project was a narrative film titled ‘Canadian Bacon’, which released in 1994.
The same year, he hosted his political comedy show, ‘TV Nation’ that featured weekly voting polls. Moore even chronicled his experiences with the show in a book titled ‘Adventures in TV Nation’, which he authored along with his wife.
He also published the novel, ‘Downsize This! Random Threats from an Unarmed American’, which was the best seller in 1994. After a break, he made the film ‘The Big One’ and released it in 1997. The film failed to achieve commercial success.
In 2011, his autobiography, ‘Here Comes Trouble: Stories from My Life’ was released and was subjected to similar reactions that his previous works got.
Roger & Me – Moore made an impact on the prevailing political issues with his debut film, ‘Roger & Me’. This was a satirical documentary that chronicled his attempts to interview the CEO of General Motors, Roger Smith. Moore wrote, directed and even starred in the film, which became the highest-grossing American documentary of all time. Released on December 20, 1989 the film was received positively by the critics.
Pets or Meat: The Return to Flint – Moore directed this film, which served as the sequel to ‘Roger & Me’. This film repeated the narration style of its prequel. Released in 1992, the film basically featured the lives of people from the first film, including a popular character, The Rabbit Lady, who sold rabbits as pets or meat.
Canadian Bacon– Moore directed this narrative film that featured personalities, like John Candy, Rhea Perlman, Kevin Pollak, Alan Alda and Rip Torn. Alda played a liberal U.S. President who decides to invade Canada in order to boost his popularity in the polls. The film was released on September 22, 1995.
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Bowling for Columbine – In this film, Moore documented the causes for the massacre at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. The film was released on October 11, 2002 and became the most successful documentary in the history of American documentary cinema.
Fahrenheit 9/11 – Moore, through this documentary, investigated the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attack. The highlight of the film was the relationship shown between the Bushes and Osama Bin Laden family. It was premiered at Cannes Film Festival on May 17, 2004 and later had a theatrical release on June 25, 2004.
Sicko –Moore threw some light on the US health care system and the role of major pharmaceutical companies in this documentary. The film shamed the profit-oriented industry which puts profit above good health care.
TV Nation – Moore made his TV debut with this political comedy show, in which he interviewed renowned American personalities from different backgrounds. Aired on July 19, 1994, the show was produced by his wife, Kathleen Glynn.
Michael Moore Live – This television show had a similar format to that of Moore’s debut television show. Aired in 1999, the show was broadcast only in the United Kingdom.
Downsize This! Random Threats from an Unarmed American – This is Moore’s first published book, which contains a collection of several critical essays on political issues. The book was first published on September 17, 1997 and its revised version was released on November 29, 2002.
Here Comes Trouble: Stories from My Life – Moore released his autobiography on September 13, 2011. The book received reviews that included a section of critics acclaiming Moore’s efforts to bring the causes and effects of political evils to light. However, another section labelled Moore as a bad influence on the youth.
Moore married Kathleen Glynn, a film producer, on October 19, 1991 in Flint, Michigan, their hometown. The couple has no children.
After 21 years of marriage, he filed for a divorce, which turned into a multimillion-dollar legal battle.
Moore's divorce news drew some hateful comments on various social media platforms.