Moore accused of publicity stunt over Disney ‘ban’

The admission, during an interview with CNN, undermined Moore’s claim that Disney was trying to sabotage the US release of Fahrenheit 911 just days before its world premiere at the Cannes film festival.

Instead, it lent credence to a growing suspicion that Moore was manufacturing a controversy to help publicise the film, a full-bore attack on the Bush administration and its handling of national security since the attacks of 11 September 2001. —Moore accused of publicity stunt over Disney ‘ban’  (Independent)

My guess is that Bush is so unpopular with so many people right now, Moore couldn’t depend on the kind of ready-made controversy that helped make Mel Gibson’s The Passion of Christ a huge hit.

By vilifying Disney, Moore appears to tapping into the vague uneasiness that many people feel when confronted by anything that is universally and unfailingly cheerful (like the Olsen Twins, or 50s housewives, or the Michelin Man), and is using his media skills to promote the meme that he is being persecuted by a Disney-Bush alliance.

Since plenty of the very conservatives Moore despises are also unhappy with Disney (with its gay-friendly policies, its use of pagan and native religions [Hercules, Pocahontas], a history of distributing films decried as anti-Catholic [see the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights boycott of Disney]), Moore’s choice of Disney as his persecutor just seems farcical…

A little digging for Disney dirt reveals an incident when ABC TV (owned by Disney) spiked a scathing 20/20 report on a book highly critical of Disney corporate culture: “There’s sexual harassment, child labor violations, and how management allows Disney World to have twice the injury rate than the amusement park average – because handling the injury lawyers is cheaper than fixing the problem.” (“Disney Spikes 20/20: Where’s the Left?“)

So there’s plenty of evidence that Disney is corrupt… is that enough to justify Moore’s spin on something he knew a year ago, but announced in time for news outlets (who love controversy) to pounce on, thereby generating lots of publicity for himself? Moore knows how to manipulate the media to his advantage, and it looks like this time at least a few journalists aren’t so keen on being used by Moore. In the years since the civil rights movement became mainstream, it has been mostly conservatives who have been good at enraging the rank-and-file to hold protests and boycotts, some of them fueled by misunderstandings and misinformation, but few of them fueled by media hype (such as is the case with Moore, who knows how to give anti-establishment journalists a juicy story).

I’ve blogged before on the Bowling for Columbine Teacher’s Guide. There has been some interest here in using Moore’s materials as part of the Seminar in Thinking and Writing course, so I’m just sort of keeping on top of Moore’s activities.

Update, 10 May: Disney responds to the NY Times editorial accusing Disney of “cowardice”.