Filmmaker Michael Moore, who built his entire career on a joke about his lack of access to power, is in a Twitter fight with the President of the United States of America. People remember Roger & Me, his unforgettable 1989 debut, as a searing portrait of the slow-motion destruction of Flint, Michigan at the hands of General Motors—and it is that. But it’s also a depressing picture of the bubble of assistants, doormen, PR representatives, security, and other assorted underlings that prevent Michael Moore from getting anywhere near GM chairman Roger Smith until the end of the movie. Here’s how Moore describes the film’s premise in the voiceover:
Did I have Roger Smith judged all wrong, simply because he was eliminating 30,000 jobs in my home town? I decided to find out. I wrote, I phoned, I faxed, I tried every means of communication available, but nothing seemed to get me any closer to Roger. I was left with no choice. I got in the car and drove about an hour south of Flint to Detroit, to the world headquarters of General Motors. My mission was a simple one: to convince Roger Smith to spend a day with me in Flint, and meet some of the people who were losing their jobs.
How times have changed! These days, Moore, who once was prevented from entering Smith’s yacht club on the off-chance the two men might run into each other, can wake up to a personal message from the president, delivered right to his phone:
It’s one of those monkey’s paw situations: it sounds like a great idea to let any citizen strike up a conversation with the president, right up to the point Donald Trump becomes president. Moore, who rarely wastes an opportunity to tell powerful people exactly what he thinks of them, responded with a blistering torrent of tweets mocking Trump for his limited understanding of Broadway and the wretched job he’s been doing as president:
Sunday morning, Moore continued, speculating that Trump’s Twitter rage stemmed from the Mueller investigation. So far, Trump hasn’t replied—he spent the morning applauding, in his words, “Republican ANGER & UNITY” that Hillary Clinton wasn’t being investigated for colluding with Russia. We’ve always speculated that technology would tear down some of the walls between the powerful and the powerless, giving everyone from Michael Moore to you and me direct access to the people who control our country. But not like this. Not like this!
Here’s the original trailer for Roger & Me, a nostalgic look back at the days when, thanks to an army of gatekeepers blocking off direct access to power, we could still believe our oligarchy was run by human beings—cruel human beings, but human beings, nonetheless—instead of the barely-sentient lizard people we’ve all gotten to know on Twitter. Heck of a job, technology!