Michael Moore may be one of the most vilified filmmakers in America, but he has a staunch ally in Toledo.
U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo) is featured prominently in Moore's latest film, Capitalism: A Love Story, a scathing rebuke of our economic system and how it led to near financial ruin. Kaptur is Moore's go-to political voice, a congressional rabble-rouser echoing much of the movie's anti-big business sentiments, and the large
political sway it holds, including the multibillion-dollar government bailout.
Moore recently screened Capitalism: A Love Story in Detroit, and Kaptur, along with a theater packed with her constituents, were present. In each of the four Q&As following the screenings, Moore spoke highly of Kaptur, saying he would be "a foot soldier" for her in future campaigns. The Blade spoke with the congressman after the screening.
Q: Talk about how you ended up in the film.
A: They contacted us. What he said, and I didn't even know ... I guess he was channel surfing one night and he saw my speech about "produce the mortgage note [when being evicted]." He said he couldn't believe that, that somebody was standing up for the people. I have always said there's a great injustice being done here because the power rests with a handful of megabanks and millions of Americans are being affected, either directly by being booted out of their homes, or their neighbors, seeing their property values go down by 20 percent. The mortgage market's a mess … the commercial mortgage market is going to hit next year and there's going to be all kinds of issues there. That a few very powerful people could orchestrate this inside our economy - he holds them accountable. He does it with humor, he does it with pathos, he does it with reality, real people's experiences. I hope that the goal, which is to inform and to mobilize the public that they can act in their own self-interest, will occur, that his film will make a contribution to that.
Q: In the past, Moore has been accused of being soft on liberals. But in Capitalism, he takes aim at members of your party as well.
A: He showed no favorites in the film and he let the facts speak for themselves. He took aim at some very, very powerful people.
I think people have to be held accountable, elected officials have to be held accountable. I learned some things from the film that I didn't know. I was shocked by a couple of things. And he had all the facts out there.
Q: Such as?
A: I didn't know how much money Chris Dodd had taken.
Q: Did that bother you?
A: Yes. Yes. And Jim Johnson I have known since Walter Mondale was vice president of the United States. I couldn't believe what had happened to him. When he started out very idealistic, he wanted to help people. I believe he was originally from Minnesota ... so he was a Midwestener. The amount of money that he personally took and was involved in with his seven homes and all these different things, I was appalled. It makes you feel crestfallen. I was crestfallen.
... We have to clean out the system that causes this. Ross Perot used to have a good expression, he said, "We have good people caught in a bad system." They come to office ... and somehow they become corrupted.
Q: Moore has said he wondered how his negative approval would affect you. Are you concerned about that?
A: Well, sometimes a person's reputation proceeds themselves. I think the greatest works one can do as an artist are where you draw on your own life story. He weaves that into this film, so there's an authenticity to it. I'm hoping that a filmmaker from Michigan and an Ohio congresswoman can stand at once together in deepest patriotic concern about the path this country has been taken on economically, and the carnage and the damage that it's caused coast to coast. I think he really puts that in focus. ... It's not an easy subject, but he's done it in a way that holds the audience. Economics, what do they always say? It's the driest subject of all? Yet it controls 85 percent of our destiny. I have to compliment him on this film and I hope people will judge the film on its merits.