Author’s Note: The following review is rife with biased political opinion. Don’t like it? Go fuck yourself. It’s a political documentary. If you want to argue with the points? Bring it on. We welcome those who disagree. Bonus: I’m a terrible political commentator, so — even if you are saddled with lousy positions — you have half a chance to make me look like an ass.
Slacker Uprising — the latest piece of agitprop from our heavy-set, liberal wanker friend, Michael Moore — is one of the first movies ever to be released online, available for free downloading. Why would Michael Moore — the most successful documentarian of all time, at least in terms of box-office gross — release his movie for free? It’s pretty simple: Slacker Uprising is incredibly dated. Also, it’s not very good.
The movie tracks Michael Moore’s “Slacker Uprising” tour in the weeks before the 2004 election, in which he travelled the country in order to encourage 18-29-year-olds to vote. And by “vote,” I mean: Vote for John Kerry. And by Vote for Kerry, I mean: Vote Against Bush. That’s one of the biggest problems, in fact, with Slacker Uprising: For libtards like myself, it not only offers a harsh reminder of what we lost in 2004, but who we offered up as our candidate: The flat-footed, uninspiring John Kerry, who had all the charisma of a wet fart trapped inside Michael Moore’s bowels.
In fact, there hasn’t been a lot of text or celluloid devoted to the collapse of the 2004 Democrats, in large part because, unlike the 2000 election, there isn’t a lot of controversy or mystery to why we lost (though conspiracy theorists among us would posit that Diebold stole the election in Ohio, the truth is, it shouldn’t have been that close). We had a lousy candidate. We lost because we weren’t running for anything; we were running against someone. And it takes a spectacularly lousy candidate to lose against the least popular, most boneheaded president of all time (with due respect to Andrew Johnson). As revolting and despicable as the Bush Administration was in 2004 (which is about half as revolting and despicable as it is in 2008), it was hard to generate a ton of enthusiasm for a wealthy blue-blood from Yale (ironically, sociologically speaking, Bush and Kerry were cut from the same cloth; Bush just hid it better, mostly by being a retard). Admirable though he was, Kerry was just another institutional candidate, the sort of guy you voted for only if the line wasn’t too long and you didn’t have dinner plans.
That reminds me: Remember how so many of us rooted for Kerry to persuade McCain to take the VP slot? Ha! Good times, good times.
If this brief trip down repressed-memory lane doesn’t exactly appeal to you, then neither will Slacker Uprising, as its only purpose, it seems, is to pour salt on the wounds of 2004. The movie has little place in the political landscape of 2008, but for its ability to unintentionally offer a contrast between Kerry and Obama, reminding us — honestly — just how good the Dems have it this year. To wit: You’d think that a documentary about inspiring the youth to get out to vote and elect John Kerry would have a lot of footage about John Kerry. But you’d be wrong. John Kerry almost managed to singlehandedly quell our hatred of Bush — political Maalox, if you will — and he’s barely in the film. Instead, Slacker Uprising focuses mostly on Bush and Cheney and the Iraq War (remember the Iraq War? Whatever happened with that? Is it over yet?).
Slacker Uprising is especially distressing in light of the progress Moore made since 2004, as a documentarian, in his health-care film, SiCKO, where he was smart enough to get out of the way of the camera and let the issue do the talking for him. Here, he’s back to his Fahrenheit 9/11 self, hogging up all the camera time and making it all about “me me me me! (it makes sense, since Uprising was filmed soon after Fahrenheit was released). He is smug. He is self-congratulatory. And perhaps most painful of all, he arrogantly talks a lot about how kind and decent the Democrats will be once they win the election (there’s not just egg on his face; the goddamn chicken sat on it).
Worse still, Uprising lacks what makes Moore’s other documentaries so compelling: Interviews with middle-Americans who support his cause spliced with caught-off-guard gotcha! moments with corporate whores (or, Republicans here) who do not. It merely follows Moore from one venue to the next, where he offers up free underwear or Ramen noodles to anyone he can get to pledge to register and vote. In each city, he is introduced by a celebrity or musician (Viggo Mortenson, Steve Earle, R.E.M., etc.), and then speaks while adoring crowds fawn all over him — there is almost as much footage devoted to those fawning crowds as there is to the substance of his lectures, which demonstrates the ego this guy has on him. For a political documentary, there is also an inordinate amount of footage devoted to the musical performances, though I’ll grant that Eddie Vedder’s cover of a Cat Steven’s song is the best part of the film.
The documentary covers some minor controversy — at several state colleges, conservatives attempted to prevent Moore from speaking by paying off the students. There are also a couple of amusingly sarcastic, faux pro-Bush commercials that Moore puts together, including one that argues that, if Kerry truly loved America, he would’ve died in Vietnam, and another that states, “Max Cleland lost two legs and an arm in Vietnam. But he still has one arm. How did that happen? One word: Cowardice! … Vote for the man who would be willing to give America his right frontal lobe. Vote Bush!” But the highlights are few and far between, and there is entirely too much self-congratulation going on to make Uprising palatable to anyone but the most ardent Moore fans (most offensive: Moore’s effort to take credit for the fact that the youth vote had the largest turnout of all time in 2004. Brother, please.).
But, again, the real problem with Slacker Uprising, besides the levels of Moore’s own self-satisfaction, is the stuffy white Elephant in the room: John Kerry. Watching the 2004 election unfold through Moore’s documentary left me with a queasy feeling as I reflected on my ability to blind myself to all that was so unappealing — politically speaking — about Kerry four years ago. How I managed to trick myself to feign enthusiasm for him as long as I did is amazing, and I suspect that McCain voters will feel similarly in four years. It just demonstrates that hating the other candidate is rarely enough to get your own elected, unless he’s someone you can feel genuinely enthusiastic about. It’s why so many Republicans denigrate Obama; there’s just not a lot of political appeal to McCain. Like Kerry, he’s distinguished, well-respected (or at least, was), and amply qualified. He’s just not that interesting a candidate.
But here’s the good news: The youth vote is gonna come out in even bigger numbers in 2008. And the great thing about that is, we don’t need Michael Moore to rally the base. We actually have a candidate to do that for us. Good thing, too, because I don’t think I could handle four years of Michael Moore taking credit for the (fingers crossed) election of Barack Obama.
Dustin Rowles is the publisher of Pajiba. He lives with his wife and son in Portland, Maine. You can reach him via email, or leave a comment below.
Slacker Uprising / Dustin Rowles
Film | September 24, 2008 | Comments ()