Moviefone dished with the controversial director about why he thinks folks take their money out of the bank, what could keep him from making another movie -- and what three traits overweight people seem to share. Longtime rabble-rouser Michael Moore's latest, 'Capitalism: A Love Story,' touches on subject matter that's been near and dear to Moore's heart since his breakout hit documentary, 'Roger & Me.' With the recent economic meltdown, Moore's look at a system he calls "immoral" and "undemocratic" couldn't be timelier.
Moviefone dished with the controversial director about why he thinks folks take their money out of the bank, what could keep him from making another movie -- and what three traits overweight people seem to share.
Is the title, 'Capitalism: A Love Story,' ironic? It seems you pretty much hate capitalism.
Well, yes, I guess it's ironic if I were saying it, but it's actually a true statement because it's about the wealthy who love their money -- and they not only love their money, they love our money too.
What do you think is the system that would work better for our country?
Well, I'm not an economist, so I don't know. I'm kind of bored with the discussion of capitalism versus socialism -- it's the 21st century, we need to come up with an economic model that's best for us right now. I guess I would like to see an economic system that has two major underpinnings: the democratic principle -- in other words, the economy is run by and decided by the people who are affected by it -- and, um, you know, a moral code to follow.
You've said this might be your last film. Is that true?
Only to the extent of what I say at the end of the movie, where I'll keep doing this if other people get involved politically and get active, because if people aren't going to do that I'm not going to keep banging my fist against the wall.
What can people do to make a difference?
I show some of those ways in the movie. You can organize your workplace into a union. You can work in a job where the workers own the business. If they're trying to foreclose on your home, you can try to stop it. And then there are all of the other things that people need to be doing, you need to quit complaining about the Republicans showing up at the town hall meetings, and get to the town hall meetings yourself.
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What do you think the government should be doing differently to affect some of the changes that you would like to see or think should happen?
Well, there're some immediate things that need to happen. Obama needs to declare a moratorium on home foreclosures until we straighten out the whole mortgage mess. There should be no more balloon payments -- it should be just one fixed rate, and those rates have to be capped. There should be credit card legislation; it needs to be approved, so people aren't charged these outrageous interest rates. I think there are individual things that people need to do in their own lives, which is to not use a credit card to have carrying charges. They should pay their credit card at the end of the month. If your bank took bailout money, take your money out of that bank and put it in a credit union. Credit unions are owned by the people who have their money in the credit union.
Do you ever feel like things are never going to change?
No, absolutely not. Are you kidding me? I was there the night the Berlin Wall came down -- physically there. I never thought I'd see that in my lifetime. Or that Nelson Mandela would be let out of prison. Or that an African American would be the president of the United States. I mean, the crazy and the impossible seem to happen; it gives me incredible optimism.
What do people say to you when they see you on the street? Do you get a lot of support?
Yes, absolutely. It's sometimes difficult to walk down the sidewalk because people are wanting to shake my hand, they're wanting to tell me their story, they want to tell me about how their pensions were cut, they want to tell me about how they lost what's in their 401K in the last year, they want to tell me how they were denied healthcare because of a pre-existing condition -- and on and on and on. You know, it was easier after 'Roger & Me' because it was mostly people that were driving a crappy GM car and wanted to know how to get help [laughs].
What do you say to people who say, "If you don't like this country then leave"?
I don't like the fact that I'm overweight, what am I supposed to do with that? Change it, right? You know, I can't leave my body [laughs], it's the only one I got. I think there are few things more patriotic than taking the time to make your country a better place.
You mention your weight -- I read you lost 70 lbs; how long did that take you?
Yeah, I lost about 70 lbs since last Christmas ... another 70 to go.
Do you have a goal for when you want to lose the other 70?
My birthday next year -- end of April.
What advice can you give to people who are looking to get healthy or lose weight?
You have to virtually eliminate these three things from your daily diet: salt (or sodium), white flour (or processed flour) and sugar (or corn syrup). If you can just get by without those three things and move around during the day a bit, you'll see a tremendous difference in how you feel and how much weight you can lose. Also, I've noticed overweight people have these three things in common: We all drink diet soda [laughs] but never lose any weight because it's so packed with sodium that it actually works against you, because it's breaking down the cellular structure by retaining fluid; number two, overweight people sleep less than seven hours a night, they never get a full night's sleep, which causes eating during the day to make up for it because you're tired, you need energy; and number three, we never eat.
You never eat?
Essentially; in other words, we put off eating because we're trying to not eat and then we get hungry by not eating [laughs].
Point/Counterpoint: Michael Moore