Michael Moore talks Christianity, uses profanity in Gaston Hall

During his lecture on Friday afternoon, filmmaker and author Michael Moore demonstrated an acute sense of his audience and location. Not only did he acknowledge that Georgetown has been or will be host to such conservative figureheads as Karl Rove and Ann Coulter, but he drew a political parallel that would make Hoyas from any corner of the political spectrum crack a smile. When discussing the voting patterns of young people, he explained why so few 18- to 25-year-olds bothered to vote in the 2010 midterm elections.

“[Obama]’s been playing it like Georgetown football,” he said. The crowd erupted with laughter, whoops, and applause.

That kind of situational awareness was a big part of what made Moore’s presentation, entitled “Here Comes Trouble: An Evening with Michael Moore,” so engaging. During the lecture, which was sponsored with its share of public chagrin by the Georgetown Lecture Fund, Georgetown Program Board, and the Student Activities Commission, Moore was equal parts cynically joking and unsettling serious as he discussed public policy, Christian values, and America’s financial and social woes. He structured the entire evening with such a smooth narrative arc and call to action for young people to repair the nation that it reminded the crowd why he has an Oscar lying around somewhere in his house.

Since he is, of course, the maker of such politically-minded, left-bent films as Farenheit 9/11 and Sicko, Moore spent a good deal of the speech addressing the what he believed to be the flaws and hypocrisies inherent in America’s version of “21st Century capitalism.” He launched into this by bringing up the recent Occupy Wall Street campaign, and expanded into the mortgage crisis, job crisis, and other financial woes by summing up the problem with a single, unifying source.

“We, as Americans, have allowed a very small group of people to be avid practitioners of one of the seven deadly sins,” he said. “Of course, that sin is greed.”

The theme of Christianity, likely because of his Catholic school upbringing and audience of students at the nation’s oldest Jesuit institution, was a common thread throughout Moore’s presentation. He told his own, somewhat humorous version of the Biblical story of how to get into heaven—heal the sick, feed the hungry, and so on—and called his audience to wonder why how, like he addressed in his most recent film, Sicko, 50 million people in what many call a “Christian” nation live without healthcare.

“I call it Christianized medicine,” Moore said of a system like that which Canada employs. “What do you think Jesus would do?”

It was this vacillation between the silly—he frequently employed funny voices and made cracks about Americans disrespecting Canada—and the serious, where his voice suddenly lost its humor and he occasionally yelled in indignation into the microphone, that characterized Moore’s address. And, as was expected, he did shock his audience a few times, mostly in the two f-bombs he echoed through the hallowed halls of Gaston (which he really shouldn’t have been so apologetic over—we do show The Exorcist in there ever year).

Although Moore encouraged even his conservative audience members to listen and to ask him questions (one of whom actually did), there was somewhat of a sense that Moore was preaching to the choir. He addressed this homogeneity, when he asked every audience member with a 4.0 grade point average to raise his/her hand.

“I guess the smart kids go see Karl Rove, don’t they?” he laughed when not a single hand went up.

But despite his political commentary and social message, Moore did have an ulterior motive—promotion of his recently released book, Here Comes Trouble: Stories from My Life. For the final portion of his speech, he moved from his stance behind the podium to a chair in the middle of the stage to read the story of his being elected to his school board at the age of 18, one clearly chosen to encourage a college audience to take political matters into their own hands.

As he walked across the stage, he requested that he get some music to lead him over. The crowd responded with a few suggestions, and eventually landed on the classic “Hoya Saxa” cheer. Apparently, nobody was too mad at him for cursing in Gaston.

Photo by Jackson Perry.

9 Comments on “Michael Moore talks Christianity, uses profanity in Gaston Hall

  1. When can my a cappella group “Here Comes Treble” get an invite to Gaston?

  2. Michael said:
    “I call it Christianized medicine,” Moore said of a system like that which Canada employs. “What do you think Jesus would do?”
    Jesus healed people Himself, but I can’t find where He said Rome(government) was supposed to. It was however churches that started hospitals, and churches that started schools…..Umm seems like government has already “fixed” those “broken” church institutions, how much “Moore fixing” does Michael want the government to do?

  3. It is being widely reported that Michael Moore made an offensive joke during this talk. As far as I can tell this has its roots in this apparent parody:

    I don’t see this cited by anyone who was there. But it’s…

    …on Fox News:

    …and in National Catholic Register:

    Did this happen? Or is this a bunch of people mistaking parody for fact?

  4. he retold the beatitudes story to illustrate the importance of helping the poor. he said “So there was J.C” then joked about J.C. being a Wu Tang Clan handle. “So J.C. was hanging with his twelve male apostles. Uh huh” (the audience laughed at the uh-huh, he put a slight emphasis on “male” but then he continued. the joke (if you can even call it that) wasn’t very explicit and was about 5 seconds long never did he say “gay” and he didnt even let the line hang for long he kept talking in the midst of the sparse laughs.

  5. On Sunday, CSpan did a 3 hour interview of Moore. I think that the interview revealed Moore to be a well-intentioned activist. He seems to consider himself to be a champion of the downtrodden.

    However, my gripe with Moore is that he seems to lack any understanding of basic economics. His proposals for economic reform are simply retreads of economic ideas that have failed time and again over the last 150 years.

    If Moore would take the time to study economic theory and history, he might do “Moore” good.

  6. Jesus did call for the transformation of our society and to move it towards justice. The church tells us that to move toward justice we that government has to be about the common good. What’s more common good then health care for the sick, an end to abortion, and a move to end poverty. What churches do for the people is charity that is great but justice means transformation of the society and that is only achieved by government change. SO WE DO NEED UNIVERSAL CHRISTIAN HEALTHCARE!!!!

  7. It’s pretty tasteless, particularly given that he was on a Jesuit campus, to even insinuate that Christ was a homosexual. No, he didn’t say “gay,” but anyone with a shred of intelligence could see where he was going. To defend him, and to go as far as to suggest it wasn’t even worthy of the word joke, is beyond stupidity.

  8. Pingback: Vox Populi » It’s not you, Vox Populi, it’s me

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