Michael Moore held forth for more than three hours Saturday evening in front of a packed house at the State Theater at an event celebrating the 10th anniversary of the State. He began, however, by sharing his thoughts on the state of the country, and on how to wrest control of the government from Donald Trump. Michael said he wants to see the Democratic Party run someone who generates excitement, and not someone from the establishment, like Joe Biden, love him though one might. He also wants Democrats to have the courage of their convictions, and not try to win votes by moving to the right. All that does, he opined, is make Democrats look wishing washy. He noted that at the presidential level Democrats have won the popular vote in every election but one dating back to the 1980s. The key, he says, is not to convince die hard right wingers to vote Democratic, but rather to get out the progressive voters, and especially to win back the people who voted for Obama, but then voted for Trump because they felt ignored by the Democratic party.
The evening included Skyping live with actor and activist Mark Ruffalo. Ruffalo said he has a mantra that he repeats to himself: “If it feels helpless, you’re not doing enough.” He talked about being at Standing Rock, and realizing that to succeed you need to not muddy the water by taking the bait and striking back at overzealous law enforcement. “When they strike, you win,” he said; “when you strike, you lose.” Ruffalo also opined that men need to address the subject of sexual harassment, and that we need a new definition of masculinity that doesn’t include such obnoxious and barbaric behavior.
Moore also showed a couple of snippets from his film Sicko, dealing with the single payer health insurance systems in England and France, as well as “pitch reels” from a film he is working on, tentatively titled “Fahrenheit 11/9,” and a TV show he has planned called “Michael Moore Live From the Apocalypse.” There's an interesting twist regarding the film: the film at this point is owned by Harvey Weinstein. Moore says he will use legal action to “extract” ownership, a task which he hopes to accomplish quickly so that he can get the film out in time to have an effect on the November 2018 election. Regarding the TV show, Moore quipped that if they don’t get thrown off of TV they’re probably not doing it right.
Regarding the State Theater, Moore said that while much has been accomplished, much remains to be done. Water from the Boardman has been leaking into the basement, which has necessitated ongoing repairs; the boiler needs to be updated at a cost of a quarter of a million dollars; and the electrical system needs work. Moore also said that he does not want to see Traverse City “Aspenized,” i.e. turned into a place where only the wealthy can afford to live. He cited high hotel prices during the film festival and the asking price for area condos, and said we need affordable housing so workers don’t have to live in Kalkaska or Grayling and commute to Traverse City.