In the immortal words of Johnny Rotten, anger is an energy. It may not be acceptable to express it at Denny's during the morning pancake rush, but anger can represent power and strength, a force for good and change.
Michael Moore has gobs of anger, which is why his Oct. 12 appearance at the Del Mar Fairgrounds is taking on the vibe of a Green Day concert. Certainly no other lefty political activist could draw this type of crowd, unless Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon started engaging in public sex acts during rallies.
Moore is a true star these days, drawing crowds and controversy wherever he goes. The quickest way to make a Republican spew his latte across the room is to mention the filmmaker, who has become the country's most visible spokesman for unseating the current president of the United States.
On many levels, this is not good news for Democrats, who have presented their own candidate for president, the well-spoken statue John Kerry, whose name actually appears on the ballot. If Kerry shows up at the fairgrounds sometime in the next month, he would certainly draw huge "throngs," primarily of campaign workers who are bused in to wave signs. But he wouldn't come close to matching the energy that will flow through the racetrack on Oct. 12.
Moore's appearance will undoubtedly rock the house. It will be a real event, generating the type of emotion and raw passion that is completely lacking in the Democrats' generic political world.
You would think, if nothing else, Moore's popularity would send the big thinkers leading the Democrats to do some serious introspection. At the very least, they should be a tad worried that their biggest hero these days is a horizontally challenged filmmaker with the subtlety of a flamethrower.
The Democrats are the party of Kennedy and Roosevelt, the party that fought for the rights of minorities and women. Now they are so rudderless that wacky Al Sharpton actually comes across like an important voice of the party. The Democrats were so desperate for any form of energy, dangerously unhinged former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean was considered a frontrunner, simply because he was the one leading candidate willing to forcefully speak out against the war.
This was considered radical thinking among Democrats, and Dean was quickly pushed aside in favor of the automotronic Kerry, a professional politician steeped in the art of avoiding any actual emotion or issue, a guy who often has a tough time sounding like he disagrees with President Bush.
Enter Moore, who thrives on emotion and humor, mocking the suits and corporate powers. In another time or place, Moore would be relegated to writing nasty letters to the local paper and producing conspiracy programs for the community access channel. But the public is so starved for a real voice, for anyone willing to attack the powers, that Moore has become a superstar. His talent for bringing a good smirk to the political debate, adding a sense of humor and sarcasm to the dialogue, is a sharp contrast to the perky public-relations clones running politics these days.
Moore's techniques are really nothing new. The ambush interview was once a staple of investigative TV journalism, a weekly feature of 60 Minutes and local newscasts. But these days, the traditional news organizations are so cowed, it appears shocking when Moore sticks his microphone into the face of an unsuspecting congressman or CEO.
Moore's willingness to shuck the veneer of objectivity and openly mock the rhetoric of politicians and corporations brings real power to his work, manipulating and persuading an audience in ways that would make Spielberg green with envy.
In the process, he exposes real moments of irrefutable truth-the simple, shocking scene of the president of the United States sitting in a tiny chair reading a children's story for seven minutes while the towers burned; the absurdity of getting a free gun by signing up for a bank account.
But Moore, with his reformer's zeal, also has a knack for going too far. Portraying Bush's cowboy foreign policy as a Saudi plot didn't really seem necessary. (After all, kissing Saudi ass is a long-established U.S. policy, essential for stabilizing the region.). And, in Bowling for Columbine, Moore didn't win any hearts by going after a clearly feeble Charlton Heston, an interview that made Moore look crueler than the gun nuts.
That's one reason Republicans are giddy that Moore has emerged as the leader of the revolution. In the minds of Republicans, Moore is the poster child for the pinko Hollywood types running the Democratic Party. They know that to millions of good and honest hardworkin' folk, Moore's popularity simply provides further evidence that the country is being taken over by the radical, smart-alleck liberal elite.
If the Democrats were smart, they would fight back by embracing Moore's message, taking his energy and passion and molding it with sound policy. Best of all, they could recognize the power of Moore's anger, the fervor created by a population infuriated with the status quo.
Instead the Democrats are running like frightened cats, afraid that coming out in favor of gay marriage would offend Bible-thumpers in Missouri, or attacking the war would make them look like wimps.
Moore comes across like a hero simply because he's not afraid to stand up and shout, to proclaim he's mad as hell and he's not going to take it anymore.
Write to MsBeak1@aol.com and editor@SD citybeat.com.