Workers Online
Workers Online
Workers Online
  Issue No 43 Official Organ of LaborNet 24 February 2000  

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Review

Rebel With a Cause

By Peter Lewis

A new Michael Moore has emerged at the frontline of subversive television. His technique? Combining organising with silly suits.

 
 

"In the beginning there was a free press - well not really but it sounds good". So begins another week's instalment of The Awful Truth, undoubtedly the find of the summer television season.

What is the Awful Truth? It's the stuff that government and the big corporations won't tell us. And it's exposed not through earnest treatises, but through corny stunts and cheap humour. Basically, it's a series of silly stunts designed to make a political point - social issues, health issues and lots of workers issues. Think John Saffran if he had read Marx. .

The frontman is Michael Moore - who's about as opposite to his Australian namesake from the ground-breaking 'Frontline' as a television personality could possible be.

Moore emerged from Flint, Michigan, the heartland of the US rust-belt that emerged through seventies restructuring. Since then he has made his name as an uncompromising critic of corporate greed and economic rationalism. A newspaper was followed by a movie "Roger and Me", an underground classic where Moore pursues the faceless chief of a US multi-national to ask him the simple question: why are you throwing people on the scrapheap?

A similar in your face confrontationalism is at the heart of The Awful Truth. Like gathering a group of throat cancer sufferers to sing Christmas carols through voice simulators outside the corporate headquarters of Phillip Morris. Or dressing up as a giant chicken, entering Disneyworld to ask Mickey Mouse why Disney give workers such a raw deal. Or spying on Lucy Goldberg, the woman who's own eavesdropping led to the release of the infamous Monica tapes via a 24-hour web-cam - http://www.iseelucy.com.

The beauty of The Awful Truth is that, at its core, Moore is employing the same tactics as unions are when organising: finding an issue; working out a way of bringing it to public consciousness and then fearlessly going out there and shaking things up.

It's fun to think of an Australian adaptation of the concept - there's some great material at present: the barbecue out the front of Stan Howard's would have worked? What about some Aborignes trying to get to the PM to apologise for making life difficult for him? And what fun we could have had with Steggles last year over their family-busting working hours!

Perhaps we should be talking about either: (a) getting Michael Moore out to Australia for a local series - possibly around the June Congress; or (b) adapting the concept for ourselves and getting some young comedians with attitude to front it. Because anything that makes the union movement look alive, irreverent and downright funky shouldn't go to waste.

The Awful Truth screens every Tuesday at 8pm on SBS


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*   Click here if you have an Australian angle for The Awful Truth

*    Find out more about Moore at The Awful Truth website.

*   View entire issue - print all of the articles!

*   Issue 43 contents

In this issue
Features
*  Interview: Parting Gestures
Outgoing ACTU president Jennie George looks back on her time at the helm and charts some challenges for young women in the union movement.
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*  Unions: While We Were Sleeping
It’s been a long hot summer for Australian workers - from the showdown in the Pilbara to the victorious National Textile workers. We look at the stories Workers Online missed while we were in the banana chair.
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*  Media: Freudian Slips
The coverage of Jennie George’s final days as ACTU President were a case study in the art of psycho-tabloid.
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*  Legal: Cookies’ Fortune
The breakaway union led by a man personally backed by the Prime Minister has been refused registration in a ruling that raises questions over the whole enterprise.
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*  Politics: True Deceivers
In his controversial new book, Andrew Scott argues that Labor's rhetoric has outstripped its achievements.
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*  Review: Rebel With a Cause
A new Michael Moore has emerged at the frontline of subversive television. His technique? Combining organising with silly suits.
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*  Satire: Victorian ALP shock: "Apparently We're in Power!"
A recent survey conducted by the Victorian State ALP has revealed that the party is in government.
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*  International: Right Hand Drive
The rise of the extreme Right in Austria carries some important lessons for our own society.
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»  Mad Monk Misses the Mark
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»  Crosby to Unions: Don't Lose Your Nerve
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»  The Bald Truth - Unions Hit the Campuses
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»  Moait Takes Reins as President
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»  Mardi Gras to Pay Tribute to Jennie
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»  Pay Equity Cyber Picket on Premier
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»  Log-In Every Day on LaborNet!
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Columns
»  The Soapbox
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»  The Locker Room
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»  Trades Hall
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»  Tool Shed
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Letters to the editor
»  Desperately Seeking Lithgow Ladies
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»  Just a Suggestion!
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»  Where is the Nexus?
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