Michael Moore's new film, "Slacker Uprising," chronicles the sixty-some college rallies he held in the last couple of months before the 2004 election. He was particularly aiming at getting people who had failed to vote in the past to get off the couch and vote. He wanted them to vote for Kerry and against Bush, but mostly he called on them to vote. The film is a low-budget effort, available for download. It is a decent essay of a film.
The most fun part are the incentives that Moore offers to slackers. At the massive campus rallies he asks everyone who could have voted in the previous election but didn't to stand. Then, if they promise to register and vote, he hands them "slacker necessities": a package of Ramen noodles and a pair of clean underpants. I thought it was pretty funny. The Michigan Republic Party, alas, did not, and charged Moore with bribing voters. They lost.
The best part of Michael Moore's approach is his sincere desire to get people, especially young people, to think it is their job to participate in politics. Whatever you think of the content of his other films, these rallies are pure Americana, and a noble task. At several stops local conservatives try to bribe the student organizers or college administration to rescind the invitation. The students resist this pressure. In the one case Moore reports in which the administration caved in, the publicity from their timidity was so great that the 1000 students they expected at Cal State San Marcos turned into 10,000 when the students moved the event to the county fair grounds.
There is quite a bit of anti-Bush snark, especially from some of the guests. At heart, though, the message of civil participation was noble. And of all people, slackers need to hear that message.