David H. Dallas
PS 302: Political Science & Film
Clarion University of PA
Documentaries, Feature Films and Labor Struggles;
Comparing "Roger and Me" and "American Dream"
June 2, 2003
(a)What happened to Flint, Michigan and Austin, Minnesota in the 1980's?
Flint, Michigan, was the birthplace of General Motors. In the early 1980's, GM announced that they were closing eleven of their production facilities. GM would then be opening the same number of facilities in Mexico. Michael Moore, whose family members were life long GM employees, asserted that this put over 30,000 workers on the unemployment line but the actual figure was closer to 5,000.
Moore spotlights the plight of the workers and the indifference of GM's management in a darkly humorous documentary called "Roger and Me". Throughout the film, Moore and his camera crew stalk the GM Chairman from GM headquarters, to health clubs, hotels and shareholders meetings, ostensibly to invite him to Flint, Michigan to see the results of the plant closings.
Moore never does gain access to Moore and has to settle for GM spokesperson, Thomas Kay.
Moore brings together a collage of the Flint area, contrasting the activities of the elite with the misery of the poor. The camera cuts from exclusive garden parties to scenes of unemployed workers being evicted from their homes. Particularly effective was the scene of GM's Christmas Program for its executives resplendent with formally clad choir members and lavish decorations. GM Chairman Roger Smith reads a Dickens's passage, remarking how Christmas is a charitable, forgiving time, as Moore cuts to scenes of an ex GM employee and family being evicted from their home.
"Roger and Me" contains ample evidence of the thoughtlessness of the upper class society. A group of women golfers says that most of the unemployed like...