You Want Moore?

It seems pretty clear by now that there�s a sizeable audience for the books and movies of Michael Moore. I haven�t read or watched any of these, so I�m not gong to cast any aspersions on them or their audience. I�m simply stating that a lot of people are interested in Moore�s work.

That said, it seems like there�s a logic short-circuit in the recent criticisms of Disney�s refusal to distribute Moore�s latest flick, which explores the relationship between the Bush family and Saudi Arabian oil interests.

Miramax, a subsidiary of Disney, has already paid millions to finance the film, after the company that produced The Passion of The Christ withdrew funding. As part of its buy-in, Miramax had an option to distribute the film, but chose to pass on the option. This doesn’t mean that the movie will be kept in a locked vault for no one to see; it simply means that another distributor will have to buy the rights, promote the movie (in conjunction with Mr. Moore’s publicity efforts), and get theaters to carry it.

Moore, on his website, has contended that Disney made this decision because it didn’t want to jeopardize tax breaks that the state of Florida (the governor of which, of course, is the brother of President Bush) provides for Disney’s theme parks.

Now, this gets back to my initial sentence: There’s a sizeable audience for Mr. Moore’s work. In a highly-polarized election year, that audience will probably turn out in huge numbers to see this movie. However, Disney has elected to forego the large box-office return it would receive from this movie (one report puts production costs at $6 million, which means profit margins could be pretty impressive).

The NYTimes op-ed page, however, eschews this logic, contending, “[I]t is clear that Disney loves its bottom line more than the freedom of political discourse.” Are movie studios being ridiculed for turning down The Passion of The Christ, after that flick made more than $400 million at the box office? No. Despite the massive profits to be made, the media regards them as having principles for not helping produce it, because it was “controversial.”

However, now that a studio in dire need of some hits passes on a no-brainer money-maker, it’s vilified as “repressive.”

Because global capitalism is all about the mindless pursuit of money, except when it isn’t.

Damn. I gotta get back to writing about wacky cultural issues and the arts sometime. Maybe there’s something good on VH1 Classic.

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