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Michael Moore, Social Entrepreneur of the Year

August 16, 2006 1:35 PM

Okay, back to the quest.

My first post about social entrepreneur stewardship and the people who embody that spirit brought some responses, but I am interested in more input. My mind was snapped back to the question because of an Op-Ed piece I stumbled onto while taking the Block Island ferry to Christopher Walken’s summer hang-out – a fact I know because I almost ran him over by accident on one of the little dirt roads of this bucolic paradise –- sorry, Mr. Walken ...

Anyway, the headline read: “Moore and the Radical Left Take Over the Party.” The party it was referring to was the Democratic Party. And the “Moore” it was referring to was Sir Michael.

Now, you’ve got to love this guy. “Roger & Me” was a great documentary. But Michael Moore has managed to transform that moment (his 15 minutes) into a text-book example of the media social entrepreneur. He could have gotten sucked into the system -– scrambled to be what the television/film world told him he ought to be –- and become just another “what ever happened to that guy who made “Roger & Me” story. But instead, he used the system to grow his cause(s).

“TV Nation,” “Bowling For Columbine,” “Down Size This,” “Fahrenheit 9/11.” What a message. What an impact. And now his extension of that message into the Internet and viral e-mail is mind-boggling. I mean, when you’ve got the local Connecticut paper writing Op-Ed pieces chastising you for how much you influence the political process, you’ve got to be doing something ...

Few people are indifferent about Michael Moore and what he does. And, if you think about it, that is probably the ultimate compliment. I think once you’ve been in the limelight for a while you realize that you’d much rather have someone hate you than be indifferent to you.

Try bringing Mr. Moore up at a cocktail party and see what kind of response you get. No doubt, there will be a response. Lots of people fawn over him. And others say he is a rotten filmmaker -– because he picks and chooses what he uses rather than being a “true documentarian” or journalist. Not taking a side (and whether you love him or hate him) I think you have to agree that he has used the powerful mediums of our day (film, television and the Internet) to have an impact on the world -– and to make a difference.

He has managed to create his own documentary subgenre. His unabashed openness about his bias is, I believe, refreshing in a time when most of us have come to understand that all journalism has always been personally biased or motivated (even when the journalist was not self-aware enough to articulate that bias).

So here is a salute to Mr. Moore, a pillar of social entrepreneurship in the media space.

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