Over the course of a few days, I watched Roger & Me, Michael Moore’s first documentary, and released in 1989. Previously, I’d only seen Fahrenheit 9/11 (June 2004, Dallas TX theater) and Sicko (December 2007 rental.) I know a large number of people may not like Michael Moore or his tactics, but I think he’s interesting, so his efforts shouldn’t be dismissed outright. As a matter of fact, I think you should listen to everyone’s viewpoints, and then make your own decisions.
This documentary primarily revolves around GM beginning to implode under its own bloated weight and mismanagement, which resulted in plant closings, and the effects on the livelihoods of former GM plant employees in Flint, Michigan, and the surrounding areas. Moore attempts to speak to at-the-time GM CEO Roger Smith. Moore’s film crew illustrated a lot of the poverty in Flint, and the attributed much of it, unfairly I think, to GM. Yes, GM closed a number of plants in the 1980’s and moved those jobs to Mexico. However, that’s a business decision, and I don’t think it would be GM’s responsibility to do something more for former employees. Now, yes, when you have GM senior mgmt taking large bonuses, you have to question the logic.
If you take the “Blame GM!” argument out of it, what remains is a sad and interesting look at the after-effects. Flint’s failed attempts to make the city a tourist destination — a new hotel, Autoworld, etc. The dramatic rise in crime, attempts at finding new jobs, the evictions. The film crew went along with Sheriff’s Deputy Fred Ross as he evicted tenants who were behind on their rent. The sheriff’s deputy was doing his job, but it was heartbreaking to see young children affected and confused about what was happening. A young mother yelling at her children to hurry up and get their coats. Another mother asking where is she supposed to go, while her toddler boy is sucking his thumb and gazing at the camera. Watching it, you had to wonder what happened to these people, what did they do next, and where did they go?