Last Night I Inadvertently Menaced Michael Moore and We Had a Moment
My friend Julia works for the George Lucas Education Foundation and every now and then, she invites me to one of the mind blowing events that happen regularly at Skywalker Ranch. This one was a sneak preview of Michael Moore’s newest movie Where to Invade Next, followed by a Q&A with the man himself.
Without giving away its absolutely delightful premise, this is not a movie about war. It’s not even a bummer! It’s actually incredibly positive – Michael’s most optimistic movie, by far. And also my favorite. I can’t wait for you all to see it.
So we watch the movie and then Michael comes to the front for the Q&A. It starts out as a moderated affair, but quickly unhinges into the audience shouting funny things at him, and him saying funny stuff back, and all of us cracking up.
Michael: “My French in the movie was pretty good, right?” (Then, he said some ear-punishing, incomprehensible French-ish muttering, roughly “Lepoissonnonpapatréacheterouicestvrai”)
French lady in the audience: “No! Your French is terrible!”
Michael: “Don’t you mean ter-ee-bluh?”
Michael: “How much was your college tuition in the 70s?”
Guy with heavy New York accent: “$37 at Queens College of New York!”
Michael: “What was that $37 even for?!”
Fun times were had by all.
Anyway, the Q&A wrapped up and I made my way to the front to pay my respects to the man. Some other people were ahead of me in a clustery queue that had formed, so I hovered around him for a moment until it was clearly my turn to be addressed.
I shook his hand and said: “Hey Michael, I just wanted to shake your hand. I was a teenager in Littleton, Colorado when Columbine happened. Your movie meant a lot to me. Me, and a lot of people I knew needed to hear adults telling us we were normal, especially being in the weird quadrant of kids.”
Michael’s polite, thanks-for-coming-out vibe immediately softened into one of sympathy. “God, I’m so sorry.” We talked for a moment about the beautiful thing that Marilyn Manson said in Bowling for Columbine about listening to kids instead of pumping them full of fear and judgement.
Then the conversation took a surprise turn.
He said: “You know, I hate to admit this, but – look at your coat…”
He gestured down at my left arm, which had a long trench coat draped over it, hiding my left hand.
He continued: “I saw you walk up and you were standing here, and after all the crazy weird stuff that’s happened to me… death threats and everything, I hate to admit this, but I got a little scared. I was thinking, ‘Is he hiding something under that trench coat?’ And it’s so crazy that that happened, and you’re from Littleton of all places. Isn’t that amazing? Isn’t that sad?”
It was sad. And it was amazing. But not because he thought I might be a killer. It was amazing because that seemed like a completely understandable, or even reasonable reaction to have to a man, in a theater, with a coat.
I had no idea what to say after that, just kind of sputtered a few “oh shits” and “I’m sorry.” to which he said, “Don’t be!” I started feeling the pressure to yield the floor to the other people who were waiting to talk to him.
I said: “The crazy thing is that we’re even further today from the answer to mass shootings than we were then.”
“I know,” he said, “C'mere give me a hug.”
And then I gave Michael Moore a hug.