“Roger & Me” Opens In U.S. Theaters – 12/20/1989

History |

Michael Moore, the provocative maker of films, has his new satirical documentary “Roger & Me” appears in movie theaters throughout the United States on December 20th, 1989. Before the film had a distributor, it had earlier in the year had a short tour of film festivals. The film’s purpose was to demonstrate visually his failed attempts to talk to the chief executive and chairman of General Motors; Roger B. Smith. His significance was that he had given permission to having 11 factories closed during the 70s and 80s in Flint, Michigan.  

The result was having 40,000 workers no longer having jobs and Moore was trying to interview Roger regarding the eventual decline of the city; no one should have been surprised that Smith decided to avoid talking to Moore and his evasiveness on dodging Michael only provided lots of tidbits to the film. “Roger & Me” was able to showcase Moore to the eyes of the public while gaining a big deal of important praise. Moore would go on to produce a lot of the top-grossing features regarding documentaries which include Oscar-winning “Bowling for Columbine” in 2002, “Fahrenheit 9/11” in 2004 and “Sicko” in 2007.

Sadly, the argument Moore presents in “Roger & Me” was that the factory shutdowns that occurred in Flint were not unavoidable. Rather, they were able to predict as well as could have been avoided if the people who ran GM were not callous, inept and greedy. The majority of the blame should belong to Roger Smith regarding the managerial disasters that happened; Moore believes this by stating Smith had for too long been allowed to be in control. He had previously served almost 8 years on the Board of Directors when he was named CEO in 1981.

While Michael filled his depressing film with absurdist set-pieces and goofy anecdotes, his attempts at humor were unsuccessful in masking his anger at how his hometown was treated; this city had previously (thanks to GM) been so successful that individuals from all over the country came in hoping to obtain one of thousands of blue-collar positions whose salary was a middle-class wage. However, the end of the 1980s transformed Flint to where everything was falling apart due to GM’s mismanagement as well as forces the company would have no immediate control over; these forces were globalization and deindustrialization. The bitter result was factories around the landscape were abandoned, falling down houses and former auto workers trying anything possible in order to make ends meet. “Money” magazine ran a feature at the conclusion of the 1980s that stated Flint was “the worst place to live in America.”

GM plants employed roughly 100,000 individuals during the late during the late 1970s in Flint; GM plants employ today less than 7,000. Roger Smith passed away in 2007 and although he never took the time to see Michael’s movie, his comments about it were “I’m not much for sick humor” as well as saying “and I don’t like things that take advantage of poor people.”

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Jennifer Yuza

Writer

Jennifer received her degree in script writing from Chapman University. Jennifer came to work for us part-time as she was looking to really pursue her dream in film. After several months of working for us, she found that the positive feedback she was getting from our readers was pushing her to write for us full-time.