Movie Review | Micheal Moore’s Slacker Uprising

Back in 2004, during the US Presidential election, I think some might remember Micheal Moore’s “Slacker Uprising” tour, where he traveled around the US with various artists, giving speeches, rallying young Americans to vote, with the promise of ramen noodles and underwear for anyone willing to vote. This documentary essentially documents that tour and the failed attempt to swing the votes towards Kerry. To a large extent, the so-called uprising did help bring about a record number of young voters by the tune of 21 million. But unfortunately, as the film cleverly mentions, their parents voted for Bush.

Instead of playing in all the major theaters, Moore released Slacker Uprising a few days back for free on the Internet. The download is only available to US and Canadian residents, but thanks to the Internet, globalization, and an environment of non-enforced IP laws, you can easily pick up a copy for 1JD in downtown Amman.

While no where near as phenomenal as his previous award-winning documentaries, including Bowling for Columbine, Fahrenheit 9/11 and Sicko, Slacker Uprising is more like a rock band releasing a DVD of a major tour for their fans. Nevertheless, the point behind it seems to be simple: it is an attempt to demonstrate what free speech is all about during a time in US history when the first amendment is being trampled on in countless ways. The point is to get as many people to see it before this coming election and it basically showcases Moore as he travels from state to state and rallies supporters. It is obviously a platform for the anti-Bush crowd and very pro-liberal.

The film is great at demonstrating the prevalence of free speech, or rather its struggle to preserve it in these dire times for the US. Although, from a film perspective, I didn’t find it as cutting edge and inspirational as I thought it could be for something targeting young, college-educated Americans. Nevertheless, kudos to Moore for releasing it for free, on the Internet, in what I think is a trailblazing demonstration of how the Web can be used for free speech and the continued dissemination of information.

That being said, I should note that the documentary inspired the following rant:

I have to admit, as a young Jordanian, watching this film, I couldn’t help but think to myself that this is something phenomenal. On the one hand, having lived in North America for a long time, I understand what free speech means and a film like this and what it documents is very much the personification of that understanding. Yet, living in Jordan now, a country where (let’s face it) free speech is nearly non-existent in the “real” terms that actually count, this kind of film only inspires wishful thinking.

On the other hand, it’s a film filled with disappointment for someone like me. I remember staying up in early November four years ago, in my Toronto apartment, watching the live networks as the votes came in and the states were declared. I remember how the world was shocked when Bush was re-elected, and I remember going to sleep, uninspired and jaded with the American electorate that perfectly met my low expectations for it on that night. It was like watching a bad movie where you figured out the end in the first 5 minutes.

I remember thinking to myself, here we are, 6.6 billion people on this planet, with at least 80% of those people being governed by an unelected government and an unelected leadership. They have no access to free speech or free media. Much of their ailing status quo is supported, if not outright sustained by the American government through foreign funding and its various pressure mechanisms. Here they are, the overwhelming majority of this world being dictated to; with no control over their own destiny.

And then there’s the US and the American people. Privileged to have a system of ideals and that have lit a starved world for a century. My grief isn’t with the reelection of Bush, but more so with the many, many Americans who did not vote.

The slackers.

A young, politically-dormant population, unwilling to vote.

And so I think of our status quo in the rest of the “unfree” world; including the Arab world. A status quo that will only change in one of three ways: in a generational transition towards a functioning democracy, in blood, or, never. If history has shown as anything, I think those lessons do suffice.

And so logic pushes me to ask the rhetorical question of: this is our status quo, this is our reality, these are our truths…so what’s your excuse?

In any case, do check out the documentary. It is a fun watch and a clear demonstration of a right and a privilege that most of the world is not privy to.


  • “6.6 billion people on this planet, with at least 80% of those people being governed by an unelected government and an unelected leadership.”

    That’s not quite correct. More than 2.2 Billion people in the US, EU, India and South America are living in democracies and that’s not even all of the “free world”.

    Sometimes it’s better than it seems.

  • Simon: well i wasn’t going for accurate numbers, but if we insist on it, then my point will still be representative of the overwhelming majority of people on this planet.

  • Well, I would need to do a count of democracies to find out if it really is a majority. But you’re totally right saying that there are too many people oppressed by dictators who call themselves presidents or kings and are nothing but tyrants.

  • “And so logic pushes me to ask the rhetorical question of: this is our status quo, this is our reality, these are our truths…so what’s your excuse?”
    I think the answers are: Do they care? Is it worth it for them? At what point it becomes worth it? Once you reach(Or discover) this tipping point you will know.

  • I am a natural born citizen of the United States and while I know of the struggles of much of the world and their governments let us not forget that the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. By that I mean, be thankful for what you do have. Michael Moore is an idiot and states a lot of falsities that he quotes as fact and the American people blindly believe him. Not much different than the people that you might conclude are blindly following the government and politicians of America, i.e. the Bush Administration. I agree that America is one of the best countries in the world and am very thankful for this land that I live in that gives me freedom of speech and the right to vote, as long as I am a US citizen, but let me put something into perspective as it pertains to our current Presidential election and choices. On the one side we have a man who wants to follow the current regime into the next 4 years. What help will that be for our country, foreign affairs, economy, environment or the war that we are still engulfed in? On the other hand we have a man that promises change but from a socialistic point of view. He has a grand plan for the US to be more reliant on the government for everything, like we don’t give away enough money to anyone that wants to sit home on their asses and ask for free handouts. I see his “plan of change” as a path to Socialism or Communism and that is not a positive step for any country; more like a few hundred steps backward for this great country. So before we judge those that may not vote think about what our motivation might be? I certainly don’t want to vote and will not vote for either of these men as I don’t want to be someone that has regrets down the road because of the mess that America is about to be thrown into no matter which man wins this election. You may not agree with my stance on American government or politics or my reasons for not voting and that is your prerogative but always remember that no country is truly free until the people stand up and force their government to work for them and not for the politicians personal agenda that he is most likely choosing because of the money that he is pocketing from the lobbyists. Money talks, in any country, any language, any religion.

  • Has anyone else noticed that Moore has disappeared in the U.S. and emerged globally?

    He’s trash here now… but getting more attention overseas…

    Weird – I don’t see or hear any of his releases anymore! And i follow his work!

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