Economics and similar, for the sleep-deprived

A subtle change has been made to the comments links, so they no longer pop up. Does this in any way help with the problem about comments not appearing on permalinked posts, readers?

Update: seemingly not

Update: Oh yeah!


Wednesday, January 08, 2003

 
Michael Moore - the not very awful truth

I come not to praise Michael Moore, but not to bury him either. There's a fair few things I don't like about Moore. I don't like his tendency to regard his every saloon bar utterance as being worth writing down in a book, and some of his fact-checking makes him a bit of a liability to his defenders. But his heart's in the right place, and he makes good films and tells a few important truths.

Any road up, we all know that the finest sound in the world is one's own voice shouting "HYPOCRITE!", and the right wing internet appears to be beginning to buzz a little with stories of a petulant, diva-like Moore, complaining about not being paid enough and, horror of horrors, "abusing low-paid workers". Because anyone who has remotely left wing politics is, of course, intrinsically a hypocrite if they ever get angry, or indeed if they are not poor. If they're poor, of course, they're just acting out of jealousy.

Here's the story. The first thing that I want to say is that the headline is misleading. I saw Moore's stage show (which is the only reason I'm writing this; I have local knowledge), and he emphatically did not "mock the Sept 11 passengers as scaredy-cats". He was trying to make a point about the docility of the middle classes, and about the fact that middle class people tend to expect others to do uncomfortable jobs for them. He mentioned black people, but also mentioned poor whites, football thugs and (topically for London at the time) firemen as members of dispossessed classes who in their daily lives did not typically have the option of letting other people handle their problems. He also made a rather moving tribute to the white middle class passengers on Flight 93, and I have no reason to believe that he wouldn't have done the same thing on the night which is being written about. His bit on this subject came immediately after a tortured piece of self-questioning about his Columbine film, asking what it was about a police tape that made the parents of the Columbine children hold back from running into the school after their children. I thought that it was an interesting idea, but a bit half-baked. I also thought at the time that it was a mistake to try and conflate the point about conformity with a point about the fact that you don't see many black faces on aeroplanes, and not in the best of taste, but the "scaredy-cats" remark is an unfair precis. Only a columnist as unremittingly stupid as Yasmin Alibhai-Brown could have interpreted it in the way she did, as glorifying black people for being violent.

(For American readers who may thank their lucky stars that they aren't exposed to the media presence of Ms Alibhai-Brown, suffice to say that she has made a profession out of being offended by everything; mainly by white people, but also by everything else. She also has a sideline in pretending that her own experience as a favourite daughter of the most prosperous and successful immigrant community in Britain gives her a unique insight into the lives of anyone with a skin darker than Pantone 469. I've occasionally noted in the past that she's the least credible Alibhai since Lord Lucan's).

Now on to the more substantive charge of hypocrisy. The key paragraph in the linked article reads:
"He stormed around all day screaming at everyone, even the �5-an-hour bar staff, telling them how we were all conmen and useless. Then he went on stage and did it in public," IMDb quotes a member of the stage crew as saying, adding Moore complained during the performance he was making just $750 a night.


OK, a few facts.

First up, I find it pretty unbelievable that Moore was getting paid $750 a night. Even if it was �750 a night, that's still fuck-all. Due to the inexplicable taste of roundhouse.org.uk for massive great unskippable flash intros, I haven't been able to confirm the figures, but I would be very surprised indeed if there were fewer than a thousand seats in the building for his performances. There were three big blocks of seating, plus two smaller blocks at the side of the stage. They were all sold out, and they weren't bloody cheap. I paid thirty quid for my ticket; there were cheaper seats, but not many of them. If we lowball the estimates and guess 1000 seats at �25 a shot, he got 3% of the takings. That's pretty low.

Second up, does this ring true? "Moore complained during the performance he was making just $750 a night". Quite apart from the fact that either a British stagehand has forgotten the difference between pounds and dollars, or Moore's fee is �468.75, is it even remotely likely that he said it in the way that this article say he said it? Is it not possible that there was some degree of self-deprecation, humour or what have you? As I say, I was there, and Moore regularly went off on quite entertaining little rants about the minutiae of his life. The night I saw him, he was banging on about the singing at the Tottenham/Arsenal match, and his visit to the Oxford Union.

Finally, and most importantly, the "�5 an hour bar staff" at the Roundhouse are bloody useless, and it's about time someone told them so. Five quid an hour for bar work in Camden is really not bad money (Yanks: it's $8/hr, albeit that UK bar staff don't get tips), and they do a terrible job for it. On every occasion I've been there, the staff have been fingers and thumbs; they'll look at a bottle of beer as if it were some strange alien object that washed up on the shore with no clue as to its purpose. It is not a well-run venue from an operational standpoint; it's a great space and it books some great acts, but the logistics do not appear to me to be any good.

What I think is more likely to have happened is this. Promoters in North London are a pretty tough lot. It's an extremely competitive market, and it's in general dominated by veterans of the Irish music scene; the most famous one is Vince Power of the Mean Fiddler organisation. I've no idea who's in charge of managing bookings at the Roundhouse at the moment (someone working for the Roundhouse Trust), but whoever they are, they're unlikely to have got where they are by being a milquetoast. Moore got into a dispute with the promoter about money (there are always disputes between performers and promoters about money) and threw a bit of a tantrum. The operational setup of the Roundhouse as a venue, on the basis of my casual empiricism as a punter, offers a wealth of material for someone to get cross about. The next night, he decided to incorporate some of this material into his act. The promoter threw a strop of his own, and decided to play a few of his own mind games the next night, and stirred trouble with the staff. Happens all the time. I'd also note that on the night I went there it started about an hour late too, so I'm not entirely convinced that the delay on the last night was due to a "strike" by the staff. Then the whole story was embellished about a dozen fold and fobbed off on a credulous reporter.

The moral of the story is that when you're dealing with promoters, count your fingers, and that fat Yanks shouldn't pick fights with tough North London Irish. Nothing to see here, move on.

1 comments this item posted by the management 1/08/2003 06:03:00 AM


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?




Links:

Bitch : Lab
Aaronovitch Watch
Balkanalysis
Perfect.co.uk
Maxspeak
Brad Delong
The Robert Vienneau blog

Political and philosophical heroes

Subcomandante Marcos
Will Rogers
Boris Vian
The English Svejk

RSS Feed:
This seems to matter to a lot of people

If you liked this "Daniel Davies" website, you might be interested in

"Danux", the web developer
The martial artist (and fan of extremely annoying Flash intros) from Blackburn
The Welsh political journalist
A Scouse computer programmer who collects Soviet cameras
"Danimal", the heavy metal drummer
Canada's finest recorder of radio jingles
More of the same, at the Guardian
A tailor's in Lampeter where Jimmy Carter once bought a hat
An advertising man who has written a novel about dogging (I think we sometimes get each other's email)
An award-winning facilities manager in Dubai
The son of the guitarist from the Kinks Update: he is apparently "balls-out motherfucking shit-dicked exxxstatic" to be included on a Kerrang magazine giveaway CD of Iron Maiden covers, which is nice.
"Fritz Gretel" from the Ramones film "Rock 'n' Roll High School"
The former presenter of the leading politics talk radio show on the Isle of Man, now a business change manager in the Manx government secretary's office
An aquarium curator in Sussex who keeps on scoring home runs like this (this is the first stable link I've found, but he is constantly kicking ass in acquarial terms)

If you didn't like this "Daniel Davies" website, then don't give up on the Daniel Davies industry completely!

An American "Christian Political Analyst" who has the same name as me
A student at Patrick Henry College
these two might be the same guy ...
"Scatter", the deceased Liberian gangster
A naked man stuck in a chimney in Wigan
A thug in Barrow



This blog has been going downhill since ...

August 2002
September 2002
October 2002
November 2002
December 2002
January 2003
February 2003
March 2003
April 2003
May 2003
June 2003
July 2003
August 2003
September 2003
November 2003
December 2003
March 2004
April 2004
May 2004
May 2005
June 2005
July 2005
August 2005
September 2005
October 2005
November 2005
December 2005
January 2006
February 2006
March 2006
April 2006
May 2006
June 2006
July 2006
August 2006
September 2006
October 2006
November 2006
December 2006
January 2007
February 2007
March 2007
April 2007
May 2007
June 2007
July 2007
August 2007
September 2007
October 2007
November 2007
December 2007
January 2008
February 2008
March 2008
April 2008
May 2008
June 2008
July 2008
August 2008
September 2008
October 2008
November 2008
December 2008
January 2009
February 2009
March 2009
April 2009
May 2009
June 2009
July 2009
August 2009
September 2009
October 2009
November 2009
December 2009
January 2010
February 2010
March 2010
April 2010
May 2010
June 2010
July 2010
August 2010
September 2010
October 2010
November 2010
December 2010
January 2011
February 2011
March 2011
April 2011
May 2011
June 2011
July 2011
August 2011
September 2011
October 2011
November 2011
December 2011
January 2012
February 2012
March 2012
April 2012
May 2012
June 2012
July 2012
August 2012
September 2012
October 2012
December 2012
February 2013
April 2013
June 2013
July 2013
August 2013
March 2014
April 2014
August 2014
October 2015