Review: 'Stupid White Men' strident -- and funny
May offend many ... but that's what makes Moore an original
April 2, 2002 Posted: 3:05 PM EST (2005 GMT)
"Stupid White Men"
By Michael Moore
(CNN) -- Michael Moore likes to be a thorn in America's side. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
Every society needs a dose of someone like Moore. "Obnoxious," "cocky" and "unpatriotic" are just a few of the words that have been thrust upon this film director and writer. And if some leaders had their way, Moore might be brought up on charges of treason for his critical remarks about the conservative agenda and the Bush administration.
But we need Moore. We need a rabble-rouser who encourages national discourse. Moore fulfills that role with his latest offering, "Stupid White Men ... and Other Sorry Excuses for the State of the Nation!"
Just as the United States reels with what some hear as jingoism, leave it to this cynical Midwesterner to supply the country with his carefully calculated thoughts on poverty, crime, illiteracy, election abuse and President Bush's positive image.
Moore tackles these issues with sharp political intellect, dry humor and self-deprecation without sounding like a tired old liberal. In other words, he avoids coming off as an arrogant blowhard the way his ideological nemesis, conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh, did in his 1992 dissent "The Way Things Ought to Be."
But like Limbaugh, Moore may reveal some sour grapes on particular issues. One issue that comes to the fore throughout the book is the 2000 presidential election. While much of the country has moved on from what Moore describes as a "stolen election," he still laments yesterday's news. It would be nice to see such anger channeled into some solutions to the various societal problems that Moore raises throughout the book.
Moore does offer solutions, but in a comical, peevish way. In his "Idiot Nation" chapter, Moore complains about what he sees to be the country's poor education system. He pokes fun at Bush by including a "Presidential Clip and Carry," a two-page cutout of a list of the leaders of the 50 largest countries.
Connecting with the reader
Moore's beefs hardly end with politics. He delivers a round of male-bashing in his "The End of Men" section -- in which he urges men to learn how a toilet seat works and encourages them to bathe daily. Moore asserts that men should step aside from leadership roles and let women deal with the stress. His words are fun, concise -- and, no doubt in the eyes of many beholders, true.
Moore has his own theories on why things are as they are. Deploying something like the "Six Degrees of Separation" theory, Moore insists that all society's ills are linked back to -- you guessed it -- stupid white men. Moore argues that it's greedy CEOs, politicians and those who support them who are responsible for what he sees to be American social decay. Perhaps he plays the blame game a bit too much, but Moore's thesis is both resonant and humorous.
Like some other political entertainer-comics -- Dennis Miller, Al Franken -- Moore doesn't pretend to be a pundit. As a result, he connects with the reader.
"Stupid White Men" may offend many people, but that's what makes Moore an original. He is not afraid to publish dissent when it's unpopular to do so. And there's nothing more patriotic and American than that.