Michael Moore on Broadway

I've just returned to the USA after 29 years of living in Paris, and my darling New Yorker daughter thought it would help my adjustment if she took me to see Michael Moore's Broadway show (although I have been spending several months here each year, teaching at NYU, there's nothing like being totally stuck here to heighten awareness.)

It was, indeed, a big help. The show was much better than some of the negative reviews had led me to believe, even if Stephen Colbert's guest appearance seemed to me a low point rather than a high one (too much mutual congratulation for my taste.) But Moore did set the mood properly when he came on stage and started tossing rolls of paper towels into the audience. (For those who have been on another planet these past days, that's what Donald J. Trump did during his visit to Puerto Rico.)

Moore annoys a lot of people, especially those who don't agree with his left-wing politics, but even many of those who do agree with him on most things. But anyone who saw the Trump presidency coming from miles away, as Moore did, deserves a lot of attention in my opinion. Moore not only saw that, but he had a keen understanding of the reasons for it.

That's why I paid special attention when he told us that we should forget about convincing Trump voters to stop being assholes and get on with the job of taking back the country, as they say (Moore, to his credit, did not say that.) That's not what I have been saying since the election, but for the moment at least I think he is probably right. Moore pointed out that if the 90 million people who didn't vote in the last election had done so, we would not be having this conversation (I am paraphrasing him, and have not fact checked those numbers, but you get the point.) And his basic message was that everyone needed to find just a little time to help turn the corner on the current national catastrophe we are living through, each in their own way. It didn't require big sacrifices of time and energy, he argued, just a lot of people doing a little bit.

He reminded me that I am starting to think many of us are spending way too much time at our computers, talking to each other on social media, and too little time doing that little bit that he is talking about. I think it's obvious that is true, given how much time I and many others spend online. Just a 10th of that time each week, doing something to keep the fight going--a meeting, telephone calls to Congress people, etc.--would make a huge difference.

The thing I appreciated most about Moore's more than two hours on stage was the passion he was able to muster, even after doing his show for the 75th time last evening, for building a progressive mass movement, the only solution to the tide of reaction and racism that is now sweeping over us. When his critics can match that passion, I might take them more seriously. Until then, Moore, annoying as he may sometimes be, is my role model.

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