Copyright 1998 Times Publishing Company
Even in "Sick Times," Moore's in the Pink April 10, 1998
Steve Persall

Anyone who enjoyed Michael Moore's broadside blasts at corporate greed and citizen abuse in "Roger and Me" or "TV Nation" will love his latest documentary, "The Big One", filmed in 1996 during a book tour of the United States. Of course, Moore thinks a nation this great deserves a better, more intimidating name, which is where the title comes from. Moore is a master of satirical ambush journalism, taking his cameras into the offices of big-name companies to confront them about business practices that leave workers unemployed in the name of corporate competition.

He'll take an oversized check for 80 cents to a Milwaukee factory, to pay one Mexican worker's salary for one day. He'll write donation checks from bogus special-interest groups, just to see which presidential candidate cashes them. (Ross Perot even thanks the "Pedophiles for Free Trade" in a form letter.)

"We live in sick times," Moore declares. "Sick, sick times."

"The Big One" is good medicine for times like these, possible only because the right to free speech allows anyone to attack anything that just doesn't seem right. Some of Moore's tactics have been called into question, especially the selective editing that makes a PR huckster seem rather evil/dumb. You can sometimes detect the places where pieces of dialogue are excised to make Moore's point of view louder.

However, who can complain upon hearing the voices of workers whose lives have been turned inside-out by management's greed? Especially when it's workers who created the Pay Day candy bar who won't be getting any more checks. Or, the deliciously ironic notion that Trans World Airlines uses California prisoners to take telephone reservations from people who can see the world.

You can't make up this stuff, just keep a sharp eye for the indignities and hypocrisies. Moore does it with more humor and incisiveness than anyone.

"He's a floor sample of what we can be," a Random House publicist says about Moore.

"He's a dangerous person," says White House press secretary Mike McCurry (after the Clinton campaign cashes a check from Moore's phony Hemp Growers of America group).

The Big One is hilarious proof that Michael Moore can be either, depending upon which side of the labor-management issue you champion.


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