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Michael Moore Meets Fearologist

In 2004 (one year after my dissertation on "Fearless Leadership") I was interviewed on Canadian national (CBC) Radio by one of the top program hosts (Shelagh Rogers). The live 18 min. interview (her in Toronto and me in Vancouver) is historical and a great moment in my life of possibility for "fearology" and the naming of the importance of fear's impacts. The program began as follows:

(S): Good morning!

(M) (Michael): Good morning Shelagh.

S: To begin, what’s a fearologist?

M: Well, a fearologist is somebody who studies the relationship of fear with, basically, Life. And that fear is not just what I’d call psychological fear but actually cultural, sociological, political fear.

S: And how did you become a fearologist?

M: Well, basically, I’m not trained in fearology. It’s hard to find anywhere that will give you a degree in that.

S: [chuckles] 

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It is 14 years later and such an interview with the public media has not happened since with anything more than the very brief media interview (clip) of less than a minute on air. It is quite possible that public media or even independent media radio or tv will not ever interview me again. I've learned lessons about this kind of thing over the decades. The 'snowball effect' that we all wish for when we are promoting a cause may or may not come in our life-times. It's a humbling reality.

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The point of sharing the Roger's interview is to point to my ongoing interrelationship with the art/activism (film making) of Michael Moore (B. and I went and saw his latest movie 11/9 last night... more on that later in this blog). Roger's and I also got into a discussion about Moore's award-winning Oscar film (2002):

M: I wish every parent, teacher and community leader would read the latest book on the culture of fear by Dr. Giroux, on how fear is being constructed through a cultural politics by elites in government, the military, and corporations—he says we are abandoning the young people of Gen X and Y. Democracy is being undermined by a culture of fear in a post-9/11 world. Giroux’s point, and mine, is that it doesn’t mean we don’t take action against terrorists, it means we don’t undermine democracy and all quality of life in doing it.

S: Michael, what is responsible for that?

M: Well I think you know media has unfortunately....

S: I’m leaving the studio.... [chuckles]

M: [chuckles] I know. I was just ready, you are going to shut the mic off here. I think it’s pretty clear that, Bowling for Columbine by Michael Moore, was a clear indicator of the impact that media has on constructing fear. So, I’ve been using this term, culturally constructed, or culturally-modified fear.

S: And Bowling for Columbine would be the culture of fear, leading to gun culture?

M: Gun culture and where we get in situations where one-third, for example, statistics, of housing starts in America are actually walled-communities. So, just think that one-third of housing starts are actually in gated or walled-communities.

S: Is the media it, Michael? Or are there other sources for the blooming of the culture of fear? 

**** [For the full interview script: https://fearlessnessmovement.ning.com/forum/dancing-with-shelagh-rogers-on-cbc-radio-18-minutes-for-fearology ]

Michael Moore also showed up in a photo entry https://fearlessnessmovement.ning.com/photos/3allies where I talk about why Moore is important:

"Michael Moore Meets Fearologist-II" (my 2nd video) go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EJLdM85Rwts&t=4s

I have been playing with images of allies and enemies for a long time on my soul journey. I'll share some images of allies that I constructed in my 'avatar' imaginary "Second World" landscape and mindscape, as more or less, "useful" to where I was (and am) heading... [my 'shamanic' work]

For those of you not familiar, here are their names and you can look up their very interesting work over the decades:

on far left upper: Andrew Cohen; left upper Don Beck; left lower Ken Wilber

on far right upper: Marilyn Manson, on right uppermost Michael Moore, on lower David Icke

**** [For a recent critique on Moore's Fahrenheit 11/9 film go to https://fearlessnessmovement.ning.com/blog/mixing-art-activism-education-michael-moore-s-new-film

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Point of this imagery around Moore and my ongoing interrelationship to his work (and my critiques) shows he is deep in my psyche, you might say, and deeply connected to my soul, you might say. I believe he represents something I admire and am not happy about. I see a missed educative opportunity, a missed healing and transformative possibility... he get's people close to the point of great transition and then falls short and drops into a 'cheap' victimizational emotionalism and politics of the oppressed, without the sacred. He's a secular activist and it really hurts his work and potency for 'big' transformation in the world, in consciousness, and a healthy and growing criticality. He falls back into his American upbringing and media-based ways of "propaganda" (at some level)--because he is competitive to "win" (and good are over here and evil are over there).... he plays off the archetypal 'David and Goliath" story narrative always, to "win" fans and to try to "win" elections of better people or parties. Albeit, he shows in 11/9 that he is less and less convinced that any of the big political parties (Democrats or Republicans) are very good and yet he still believes new faces of new politicians can make the changes needed.

I agree and disagree continually with Moore's ways of "teaching" to make this improvement in society (especially, America). I won't go into this further and further but I have already said, that he doesn't handle the topic of fear very well because he has no theory of a praxis of fearlessness... he cannot get beyond victimization politics and emotionalism (see how he uses emotional close-up shots of faces of people in this film--it is really his main way of getting emotional reactions out of people--and manipulating affect for political and ideological gain--he's seemingly fine with that approach).

I cannot explain what it is but there is something very important in Moore's art in this world today. I have said often (see my latest video on responding to Moore and his 11/9 film just released) that I wish I could find a way to collaborate and advise Moore in his films. They are all, more or less, about Culture Wars (in a meta-context of a culture of fear)--and, now, in this latest film 11/9 Moore says very clearly that "evil" is here and we have to get rid of it. But unfortunately, he doesn't just scare people with this and images of the Third Reich (Germany, 1930s), he doesn't offer any deeper analysis and understanding (like from Hannah Arendt and her study of the "banality of evil" and how everyone contributes to the success of evil, if you want to call it that). No, Moore keeps things too clean and simple, and he searches for the iconic images of "glory" in his battle with the dark forces on the planet. And no more will you find his iconic (emotionalism) being played out but in the last 15 seconds or so when he takes one of the victims of the Florida mass shooting event in 2018 Spring, and zooms in on one of the high school students faces, eyes, at a podium, standing in silence, looking at the crowd, the viewer... this is what Moore likes to do--to try to show the "glory" of the traumatized fighting back, with this young woman's message and look of defiance to the authorities and those not responsible for ending gun accessibility to too many unsuitable people in America. Moore wants her face all over the screen--and, what I see is a young person highly traumatized fighting with bravado... some courage... and, a long ways away from fearlessness. This tells me the "gap" in Moore's secular activist work, and how he really has no model for liberation but continually talks about justice, peace, and such... but so does not seem to understand the nature and role of fear (and fearlessness)... he misses the "path" over and over, but comes so close to guiding people in a sacred way to "truth"--he rather, likes emotionalism-truth of victims (sad as that may be)--but that isn't enough Mr. Moore... you've not seen the bigger picture of what liberation is about. You ought to know better! Your award winning 2002 movie, long ago, had all the directions to take to deal with better understanding Culture Wars (especially in America)--and the culture of fear it produces. It seems you (Mr. Moore) have gone for the quick-fix cheap emotional hit to try to "win" an election with better candidates (not that this is a bad thing)... sorry, history shows that there is no ultimate victory or even small victory over evil, if we as a species do not do the deeper sacred healing and transformation of 'evil' (if you want to call it that)... I offer, as a fearologist, a much more nuanced analysis to the Fear Problem (Evil Problem)... and, I do that by not just putting icons of "glory" of victimization and trauma up as the "one's to follow" or "one's to inspire"--that's an old strategy that doesn't purvey the true spirit of fearlessness in a mature form, it is an immature form (better than nothing, sure)...

Just some thoughts for Mr. Moore and his followers... and, for fearologists of the future who will be needed to help out this situation that won't go away--call it "evil" if you want.

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