You may think them an odd couple. But Joan Baez seems quite taken with Michael Moore.
Clive Davis led me to this recent Guardian interview with Baez, in which she mentions how the existence of Moore somehow keeps her from losing faith (I have to say it doesn’t quite do the same for me):
People say, ‘Oh, Miss Baez, how do you keep up your optimism?’ And I say, ‘I never had any. I was way too smart. I’m a realist.’ And they look shocked and hurt, because they’re depending on me to say something that’ll make them feel better.” She giggles again. “I have hope in people, in individuals. Because you don’t know what’s going to rise from the ruins. I mean, Michael Moore – where did he come from? This big, floppy, fat, strange man, who makes these unbelievable films saying exactly how it is. You think when you see that, how can anyone possibly vote for Bush? After seeing what a hypocritical, lying bastard he is?”
It seems odd to me (no doubt that’s my optimism and naivete showing) that so many are still taken in by Moore’s lies. And I’m a bit puzzled as to why Baez thinks Moore’s emergence such a mystery. It’s relatively easy to know where Moore comes from—just read up on him at the many websites devoted to the pursuit of Moore lore. If Baez did, maybe even she would come to the conclusion that Moore is less.
But I sometimes underestimate the force of propaganda, of which Moore is a master. It leads to the quoted Orwellian utterance by Ms. Baez, who does not see that “hypocritical, lying bastard” would be an excellent descriptor of her “big, floppy, fat, strange” (her words, not mine) hero.
To be kind to Ms. Baez, I was impressed by the photo accompanying the Guardian article. Unless it’s been airbrushed to the hilt, I have to say the lady looks good, especially considering her stated age: 65.
Baez, sixty-five. It’s sobering–to her, too, apparently. The article quotes Baez during a recent Somerville, Massachusetts performance:
“When did we get so old?” she cried, to huge cheers.
Well, speak for yourself, Joan, I’m nowhere near as old as you. So there!
But on a more serious note, my answer to Joan might be: when we stopped changing and learning. When we got stuck in a 60s mentality that didn’t take into account new information. When we placed on our cars bumper stickers such as yours, reading (according to the Guardian article): Iraq is the Arabic for Vietnam
Ah, Vietnam! Those were the days, my friend, we are determined that they’ll never end. Here’s Joan again:
If they’re honest with themselves, says Baez, veterans of the peace movement, of the war itself or of any great struggle for social change must admit that for all the woes they suffered, there is a terrible anticlimax when it ends. “Afterwards looking back, it is inevitably the high point of your life. You know that from soldiers, who tell their story over and over. I’ve heard that even the Vietnamese were depressed.”
Even the Vietnamese were depressed. But maybe, just maybe, they—unlike you, Joan—were/are depressed not because the glory days are over, but because the Communists won.