The internet is abuzz with praise for the new documentary that points out the many faults of public education, Waiting for Superman. With positive reviews from both the Huffington Post on the Left as well as the New York Post on the Right, it makes one wonder, how could this be? It appears that this film has single-handedly done what President Obama could not do to save his own life: bring the Left and Right together on a single issue.
It is refreshing that the film's director, Davis Guggenheim (who directed An Inconvenient Truth), is able to put politics aside to see the destructive nature of teachers unions. Guggenheim put his own kids through private school but realizes that not everyone can afford such a luxury. Here, he sets out to tackle the real problems that have long plagued public school systems: teachers unions. Though, he is careful to say that he isn't bashing unions in general.
Guggenheim sees that not everything has to be a political football, which is why we should applaud him for taking a bipartisan approach. However, some feel that the response to the film shows the true, negative colors of conservatives. Liberal Patrick Goldstein comments in the Los Angeles Times:
If you're a documentary filmmaker, you're happy to get rave reviews from any source, since you need all the good PR you can get. But I find it revealing, when it comes to the liberal vs. conservative partisan divide, that whenever Michael Moore releases a new documentary promoting a liberal cause, conservatives are quick to bash him for being a left-wing propagandist. But when Guggenheim makes a film offering wholehearted support for a conservative cause, liberal critics have written just as many glowing reviews as conservative ones. (The film has a sky-high 93 fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes.) What does that tell you about who's got the most open mind here?
First of all, only looking at Michael Moore and Davis Guggenheim as leftists is a bit single minded (even though they are). Sure, they both have done their partisan films, but one is far worse than the other. Big Hollywood's editor-in-chief John Nolte has even gone as far as to defend Moore when he was appointed to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' Board of Governors:
Yes, Michael Moore is a liar, a shameless propagandist and an anti-American leftist of the highest order. But he's also one helluva talented filmmaker and it would be wildly hypocritical for me to believe or argue that anyone should be blacklisted from AMPAS due to their political beliefs. And that's the only reason I could possibly use to argue against this appointment.
It doesn't get any fairer than a conservative defending Moore because not doing so would support a blacklist mindset. Even still, Moore has dedicated his career to leftist causes. Look at his films: Bowling for Columbine (a good film that ends up ruining itself with a weak plea for gun control), Fahrenheit 9/11(a horribly partisan and dishonest portrayal of Bush enabling conspiracy theorists), and Sicko (a disgusting defense of socialism). Everything Moore directs (and writes and says) is to further a far Left agenda. Therefore, he is so painfully predictable, which is why it is so easy for the Right to go after him.
On the other hand, Guggenheim has directed the paranoid global warming holy film An Inconvenient Truth as well as a short for the 2008 Obama campaign. Yet Guggenheim differs from Moore in that he has also done a lot more work outside of political documentaries. If you look at his profile fromimdb.com you will see he has directed episodes of Deadwood, Numbers, Alias, and even the conservative loved 24, a show Moore wouldn't touch in fear of losing his leftist cred. Sure, An Inconvenient Truth is praised by leftists and hated by conservatives (generally speaking), but by creating a wide variety of content, Guggenheim gives an opportunity for both conservatives and liberals to appreciate his work.
So it isn't fair to assert that liberals are better than conservatives because critics on the Left show balls by embracing a leftist filmmaker who makes a conservative argument (when the Right won't respect Moore). The day that Moore steps outside of his self-loathing, socialist-loving fog bubble is when conservatives can respect him. Anyone who is honest about their politics will find good and bad on both sides. Guggenheim has apparently done this with Waiting for Superman. Until Moore decides to transform some of his propaganda films into useful documentaries, we will continue to wait, but I wouldn't recommend holding your breath.