|'Return to Flint' Not Easy|
September 29, 1992
Shortly after Michael Moore became a big Hollywood success with "Roger and Me," his tragicomic documentary about Flint, Mich., Jay Leno asked if he would ever make a sequel.
"The only way I'd ever do a sequel is if they combined the 'Batman' sequel with the sequel to 'Roger & Me,'" Moore said. "You know, Batman could come to Flint and save the town and dangle Roger Smith from the tower. And we'd all end up building batmobiles."
But Batman, apparently distracted by Catwoman, never came to rescue Flint. General Motors Chairman Roger Smith retired and the company town lost another 10,000 jobs. And Moore did do a sequel.
"The economic situation that the country is in I felt demanded some sort of response from me personally," said Moore from his home in New York. "People always said to me, 'It's too bad about Flint,' and I'd say 'It's not just about Flint, it's a coming attraction to a town near you.' And that's what happened."
The new film, "Pets or Meat: The Return to Flint," may not have Michelle Pfieffer in black rubber, but it does have Deputy Fred and the Bunny Lady, two of the most memorable characters from the 1989 film. In fact, the Bunny Lady, who grossed out millions by skinning a soft furry creature in the first film, tops her performance. Her newest venture, designed to supplement her garnished Kmart wages, is raising mice and rabbits as snake food. This time, Moore's critique of modern capitalism features footage of a huge snake devouring another fluffy pet.
That's why the sequel, which will air with "Roger and Me" on the PBS "P.O.V." series from 9-11 p.m. tomorrow warns:
"The following program contains scenes of explicit corporate behavior which may be offensive to young children, vegetarians, and General Motors shareholders. Viewer discretion is advised."
"Roger and Me," distributed by Warner Brothers, was widely hailed as a sleeper that seemed to explode out of left field. Yet Moore says he knew all along that the film would strike a nerve.
"I thought it would be very popular," says Moore. "That's why I held out for a big distributor and insisted that it play in commercial theaters and not in art houses. That's why I've sort of tried to take care of the film every step of the way to make sure that it got to a mass audience."
Moore also made sure that the film aired on PBS only under his conditions, which included funding for a sequel.
"PBS has always tried to shy away from controversy. They'd much rather put on a Ken Burns kind of film," Moore said. "I just wanted to make sure that PBS didn't put it on bracketed by some kind of GM response or something. I didn't want anybody messing with it."
Moore is now working on a political satire called "Canadian Bacon" set in Niagara Falls. In the new world order, America has no enemies, General Dynamics is failing and the powers that be are desperate for a foe.
All along, Moore has been an outspoken critic of Reaganomics and Republicans in general. But he doesn't believe challenger Bill Clinton offers much hope for Flint or other towns like it.
"We're faced with Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dumber," he says of the 1992 presidential choices. "We have to vote for Clinton, but no one should have any kind of an illusion that as far as the economy goes we are going to be any better off."
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