Roger & Me Redux: Bunnies Beware
September 7, 1992


Some movies carry warnings about sex, but only one runs a disclaimer in the titles that it may be "offensive to young children, vegetarians, and General Motors shareholders."

"Pets or Meat: The Return to Flint" is an update of 1989's "Roger & Me" which chronicled one man's quest to bring Roger Smith -then GM's chairman- to a devastated company town. The sequel catches up with Roger's characters, many of them citizens of hard-hit Flint, Michigan. The sometimes comic roster includes the "Bunny Lady," who bashed and skinned a rabbit as the cameras rolled and the ASPCA recoiled. Director Michael Moore saw her ad line "pets or meat," and found the sentiment analogous to GM's treatment of its workers. Both films will be featured on PBS on September 28. Leoporidae lovers will be crushed by the sequel.

"Roger & Me" became the largest-grossing documentary ever, with revenues of $25 million. Along the way the movie collected brickbats for its outrageousness, a style that even Moore calls "mock-umentary." In one case, the movie implied -incorrectly says GM- that people shown being evicted from their homes were laid off from the company. Says Moore "Two of them were, two of them weren't. When you live in Flint, the entire economy is based on GM."

In the sequel, downtown Flint sports new banners, but the theme is the same: Thousands more GM workers have been pink-slipped since 1989. GM still employs 50,000 in Flint and generates a payroll of some $2 billion annually. But Moore, unrepentant, says his film is about an economic trend that's larger than his home town. "It could have been about Lockheed, GE, U.S. Steel," he says. "I just happened to be born in Flint to a man who worked in the shop."

Copyright 1992 Fortune Magazine


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