Page 1


In the last chapter of his book, Moore announces that he’s formirig “Mike’s Militiaa sort of all-purpose group for the firearm-challenged” which will enforce the book’s “calls to action” \(apprehending corporate criminals, looting Beverly Hills, protecting a sperm’s right to life by demonstrating in front of frat houses while Mel rose Place all other militia groups. As an initial exer cise, he’s had Michigan Militia cofounder Norman Olson and some of his men join Mike’s Militia for a day; in their afternoon of training they attend a carnival, get burg ers, bake a cake and hang out on the shores of Lake Michigan. At the end of the day Olson tells Moore that “you guys [liberals] were right in the sixties….Us conservatives were wrong. So when we finally wised up in the nineties, after all these jobs were lost, where were you liberals when we needed your help?” Too busy meeting with one another, Moore concludes, and then he asserts that “Mike’s Militia is going to change that. Be warned: my militia is no place for slackers or yuppies. There is no cappuccino and no NPR.” Members will be required to watch “Friends” and listen to country music; they’ll also have to read six conservative periodicals and listen to Rush Limbaugh to know what the enemy is up to. Eating fatfree foods will be forbidden. Following this list of requirements is one more list of proposed activities: turns out the militia members won’t just be protest ing in front of frat houses; they’ll be taking over the Democratic Party by running as precinct delegates, supporting progres sive third party efforts, boycotting companies that downsize for profit, and helping to organize workers, among other things. This sounds greatbut won’t all the members be busy watching prime-time television and reading the Wall Street Journal? Downsize This! is a tangle of satire and political exhortation and silliness, stud ded with mentions of how many thousands of people have called his television show to report corporate crimes, or contacted him to tell their own layoff stories. Does Moore want to politicize the downsized? Get rich liberals to watch TV? Or just make everyone laugh a little? Moore’s talent lies in his ability to criticize through goofball tactics; but whereas in Roger and Me his humor was pointed and didn’t obscure his project, Downsize This! is confusing in its sprawling half-seriousness. It’s a funny book, but also an uneven one: the title might well have been an instruction to the editor. [i] Observer special correspondent Karen Olsson is also a corporate crime-fighter. 30 THE TEXAS OBSERVER DECEMBER 20, 1996