Life of Riley: Mike's Militia

April 5, 2000

Life of Riley

Mike's Militia

Among the local stay-at-home-on-Tuesday-nights population of part-time couch potatoes, there may be some of you who were fortunate enough to catch Mike Moore's The Awful Truth on SBS TV.

As a card-carrying member of Mike's Militia — a bona fide paramilitary protest group — I can speak with some authority about our CEO.

Mike's a real oddity. A highly respected and awarded documentary film-maker, he may seem to pass muster as your standard pity's sake liberal trading in mawkishness. They're a dime a dozen in the US of A.

But what saves MM from the lamentations of the mainstream of teary-eyed worriers is his devilish sense of fun and his class loyalty.

Moore's particular skill is to take a confident allegiance to working people and challenge capitalist (not that Mike ever uses the word "capitalist") assumptions by employing imaginative satiric techniques. In real terms, Mike Moore's probably the most successful satirist of a left persuasion working in the English-speaking world today.

Good on you, Mike!

I have been fascinated with MM for years. I envy the guy. Sure, he is successful, a chat show guest and friend to the stars — but I have to say that success hasn't ruined Mike Moore.

Anyone watching an episode of The Naked Truth or the preceding TV Nation may at first be shocked at how boldly critical this man can be of corporate power.

But as the sages say: "Only in America!". And that seems to be the case. Moore can produce and write the stuff he does primarily because he locates himself in the tradition of US populism that historically is variously left or right.

Usually this kind is short on programmatic clarity and in the end is another voice of capitalism. In Australia, the closest we come to it is your average vapid radio shock jock or opinionated liberals like Andrew Denton. Moore doesn't quite fit the mould.

That his focus is overwhelmingly what is wrong with the US and how hard done by its working people are, makes his achievement all the more impressive. Moore is not noted for pulling his punches.

However, despite his credentials and after initially being backed by a US cable TV network, Moore must now go to Britain to get Channel 4 finance for his TV satire. So there is a price even "in America".

But in terms of using the media to make a point, Mike Moore really knows how to push the envelope.

Followers of The Awful Truth will be pleased to know that a new series is pending. Enthusiasts for the program and similar Moore projects should check out his web site and sign up like me: <>.

My only regret is that I haven't quite worked out how he does it! For the moment all I do is dips me lid and say: give me more of the same, Mike.

By Dave Riley <>

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