Michael Moore appeared at the New York Film Festival to speak about his new film “Where to Invade Next,” which follows him touring the globe, finding public programs (from vacation time to school food to the role of women) that function better than they do in America. But as was his wont, he was quick to roam about whatever caught his fancy, from the way America mistreats teachers to the sorry state of the GOP to the even sorrier fact that his 2002 doc “Bowling for Columbine” is still, this very week in fact, relevant. What follows are the highlights from his press conference. The film itself will be in theaters in December.
What America does do well: “We still do rock ’n’ roll and music really well. Hip-hop. They’re still not very good in France with that. … I like the choice of cereal here. Massive choices. No, I love these countries I went to, but I wouldn’t want to live there. I love living here. I like New York, I like Michigan. In terms of what we’re doing right, in terms of public policy, we elected Barack Obama over John McCain. That was a good idea, I think. That saved us a little bit. I don’t think most of these countries are going to elect someone of African descent as the head of their country.”
His message to Finland, one of the countries he visits: “Your country has a lot of problems. Germans, French Italians, every country has a lot of problems. I didn’t go there to make a film about your country. You need a Finnish documentary filmmaker to do that. And you don’t need Americans telling you what to do. As I said in the film, I came to pick the flowers, not the weeds. I acknowledge if you’re watching this and saying, ‘But does he know about…?’ No, I don’t, actually, I don’t live there. There are lots of things you’re dealing with. But that’s not my film. My film is about us, no you. I just decided to tell a story about America without shooting a single frame in the United States.”
How he would fix American schools: “I would feed them healthier food. I would make their happiness my primary goal. I’d let them be kids. Are there any parents here who have kids in junior high or high school who are doing homework at 10? 11? Midnight? Somebody figured out how to make money off of [schools], so there’s a machine behind this.”
On teachers: “We treat our teachers like crap. They love teachers over there [in Europe and elsewhere]. They did a poll of teenagers and young adults about professionals and which ones you want to marry the most: doctors, lawyers, brain surgeons, people at NASA. And doctor was number one, of course, but number two was teacher. That felt like the coolest thing if I was married to a teacher. … Here, teachers qualify for food stamps in some districts.”