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Michael Moore is a documentary filmmaker and satirist. His debut film was Roger & Me which became the highest-grossing American documentary of the time.
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The point of that piece, and the book, is to expose, through satire, irony, and poke-in-the-eye comedy, corporate America's war on working-class families. With chapters such as "Would Pat Buchanan take a check from Satan?" "Why doesn't GM sell crack?" and "Why are Union Leaders so f#!&ing stupid?" the book is part stand-up comedy in printed form, part political manifesto,
and part Spy magazine-like pranks. The author embarked on an unconventional book promotion tour, refusing to sign books at certain chain stores and seeking out independent booksellers. After a few stops, he was joined by a film crew, which led to the making of his movie The Big One (1997). The film features stunts familiar to Moore's fans, including the presentation of Downsizer of the Year awards to company bigwigs. It opened in selected cities as benefits for local charities, unions, and leftist political groups. Moore would answer questions, promote local causes, tell some jokes, and then inspire the audience to political action. Despite excellent reviews, The Big One failed to achieve commercial success; an angry film about corporate America seemed out of synch when the Dow was at an all-time record high.
As the twentieth century ended, Moore was still pitching his political message to a larger audience, attempting a weekly talk show and developing Better Days (1998), a sitcom about a town where everybody is unemployed. In conjunction with Britain's Channel 4, he negotiated another incarnation of TV Nation, which launched in early 1999 under the title The Awful Truth. It kicked off with a scathing attack on health insurance companies in the United States and a somewhat crude and gauche sideswipe at Kenneth Starr morality in the form of a sketch delivered like a scene from Arthur Miller's The Crucible. Moore looked set to remain a viable force in popular culture in the twenty-first century. Virtually the country's lone left-wing satirist, he pops up regularly on talk shows such as Politically Incorrect. Popular culture has never seen a figure quite like Michael Moore: a comedian who one minute offers a critical analysis of legislation, and in the next a suggestion that Queen's "We Will Rock You" become the new national anthem.
In 2003, Moore's Bowling for Columbine, which took a dark-comic look at gun culture in the United Sates, won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. The director's acceptance speech included a very Moore-like statement against the war with Iraq. "We live in a time where we have a man sending us to war for fictitious reasons. We are against this war, Mr. Bush. Shame on you!" The film was also awarded the Special 55th Anniversary Prize at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival. In late 2002, the director launched a one-man stage show, Michael Moore—Live, in London and New York. In 2004, The Walt Disney Company banned Miramax from distributing Moore's documentary Fahrenheit 9/11, which critiques the Bush administration's handling of Iraq and the war on terror. The film won the coveted Palm d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival and, when it eventually hit theaters in June, became the first documentary to win the weekend box office.
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