By Jesse Marx
By Chris Parker
By Jake Rossen
By Jesse Marx
By Michelle LeBow
By Alleen Brown
By Maggie LaMaack
By CP Staff
CP: You and Moore have some things in common, right?
Wilson: We come from similar backgrounds: blue collar families in the Midwest, somewhat apolitical parents. I actually discovered lots of similarities [between us] once I started digging into it. I wondered, How is it that we can see America so differently? My goal, at least initially, was to try to get Michael Moore to sit down with me for 45 minutes over a couple of beers. I thought it would be funny to borrow his own strategy on Roger & Me. I started asking him for an interview. And he ignored me. So I had to start talking to other people about their visions of America, about their visions of Michael Moore.
CP: Why do you think he ignored you? Because you weren't a celebrity?
Wilson: I think he ignored me because of the title [of the film].
CP: Where did it come from?
Wilson: The title was always meant to be satiric; it wasn't some thesis that I set out to prove. I started researching [Moore's] inaccuracies, looking at a lot of anti-Moore websites. And what I found was that the people who were criticizing him were being just as shrill and obnoxious as he was being onstage at the Oscars. Everywhere I went, it was, "Michael Moore hates America, Michael Moore hates America." And I just thought that was fascinating. I taped an interview with David Horowitz [founder of the Center for the Study of Popular Culture], who's about as right-wing as you can get. He says [in the film], "I'm a Michael Moore-hater: Michael Moore hates America, and I hate Michael Moore. The enemies of America are my enemies--and those are the fans of Michael Moore." And I went, Holy shit! That's exactly what I'm talking about! As a nation, we've become shrill--a bunch of shouters.
CP: Your own website hasn't lacked for shrillness on occasion.
Wilson: Uh-huh [laughs]. Give me a specific example.
CP: There's that posting from a week ago about your feud with Disinfopedia. You wrote, "Hey, Disinfopedia assholes...I'd like to make it clear that if you write that the [Michael Moore] screening [in D.C.] is for the vast, right-wing conspiracy or other similar shit, I'm going to bring the full might and power of our fan base raining down on you...fuckers."
Wilson: Yeah [laughs]. I guess that's just me defending myself against people who are lying. And you're right: That post is shrill. I'm not above raising my voice. At the same time, I've never gone after Disinfopedia: I've never said it's a bad or evil website. But they went after us. They've written dishonest things about some people involved in [producing] the film--called them "pornographers." And then they make changes to those posts on their site, which is supposed to be an "open source." They delete things. I called Sheldon Rampton, who's the head of the Center for Media and Democracy [which administers the site], and I said, "Look, just admit it: Your site is 'open' and 'free' to the people who agree with you."
CP: At times you've come across as a kind of media watchdog.
Wilson: One of the things that bothers me about Michael Moore in particular is his lack of integrity in terms of how he approaches his subjects--whether it's through an ambush or by misleading people in order to get what he wants for his movie. So I decided early on to be really up-front with everyone about the title of the movie. And I think it freaked [Moore] out. No matter what I said to try to communicate what this film was really about, he didn't buy into it. I went to hear him speak at the University of Minnesota about a year ago. I introduced myself during the Q&A, and he got really angry; he was practically screaming at me. "Everything I do is because I love America. It's people like you that hate America." I'm thinking, Look, man--I'm introducing myself. I'm telling you what I'm doing, I'm trying to ask you for an interview. I'm giving you the benefit of the doubt, assuming that maybe your filterers haven't let you see my requests. And instantly, that shrillness came out of him.
CP: No shortage of the shrill these days, two months before the election. How do you assess the tenor of the debate?
Wilson: Let me put it this way: America is at its best when we [represent] the widest possible spectrum of political ideology. We're passionate in America. We argue like crazy--like a family. We say, "We should raise taxes on the very wealthy, 'cause they can afford it." And at the same time we go, "You know what? It's my money. Fuck you. Who are you to take it away?" And there's everything in between--on every issue, whether it's Iraq, health care, social security. It's great when we all come to the conversation honestly, when we're not trying to bend the facts and mislead each other. But you see so much deception on the right and the left--and too little in between. I say, Let's move the conversation forward.