Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Irony in "Roger & Me"

Michael Moore’s “Roger and Me” thrives on his use of irony. Much of his message is conveyed through the ironic juxtaposition of the way the upper-class people of Flint live and how the poor live. Though it is humorous at times, the reality of poverty in the city of Flint is overwhelmingly depressing. We see this especially in one of the opening scenes, in which Moore drives through the downtown area, showing us all the boarded up windows and shops, while the Beach Boys “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” plays in the background. This creates a feeling of deprivation in the viewers, because the scene in front of us is definitely not as cheerful or optimistic as the soundtrack. Another scene that shows Moore’s ironic tendencies is the scene in which the upper-class of Flint throw a grand opening party at the new jail, and couple are shown paying to spend the night in a jail cell. This is ironic because the reason for the new jail is that the crime rate in Flint has skyrocketed, and the city had to build a building one block wide in order to hold the influx of inmates. The celebration of this in the form of a party shows us the ignorance of the upper-class, and although it is a bit humorous, it is sad at the same time. Moore uses this irony symbolically to show that there is a disconnect between the reality of Flint, and the way the people of power see the economic situation.


  1. Dominique Says....

    There was a lot of irony used in this film to convey an important message in the film. Moore's purpose being to show the devastating effect of a relatively small town called Flint that is centered around one large corporation which in this film happens to be a General Motors. Moore uses such types of irony as situational, verbal, and dramatic. These types of irony effectively establish Moore's purpose, as well as allow the viewers to not only witness the strong economical impact on the small society, but convey in a way that is easy for the viewers to understand and maybe get a few laughs.
    One of the best usages of irony in the film is when Ronald Reagan visits the town and suggests that former auto workers find employment by moving across the country, though the restaurant where they are meeting has its cash register stolen during Reagan's visit.
    Another usage of irony in the film is that during the whole course of the film Moore is looking for Roger Smith and he tries to find him at high end hotels, up-scale resturaunts, huge office building and private work-out facilities. While he ties in scenes of poverty-stricken children standing in the street, or families being evicted from their homes, showed the extreme level of poverty resulting from unemployment. On the other hand, Moore was able to emphasize those scenes even more by juxtaposing them with scenes of Roger Smith living in luxury. Conveying the message that Smith could care less about these people and their problems and he continues to go about his everyday life.
    Another usage of the irony persuasion in the film is when he interviews his friend Ben Hamper who apparently suffered a nervous breakdown after being fired from GM and after he was fired the first song he heard was the Beach Boys song "Wouldn't It Be Nice?", and then the film transitions and we see what decay and wasteland that Flint has become with boarded up windows, empty houses and boarded up businesses. We also see newspaper headlines about the increasing job cuts, residents moving away, and a news report informing us that the rat population in the city soon doubled the human population. He then transitions to the unsympathetic high class people in the suburbs who are currently throwing a party.
    Through the use of irony Moore is able to persuade American working-class individuals that they are the underdog and unless they do something about it, they will remain as such because to big corporations they are expendable.

  2. I agree with the fact that you say the irony is both humorous and depressing. While it makes the documentary a little easy to watch it still makes the message hit home. Mentioning the upper class is also something i dont think should be overlooked. The way that they are looking at the people that lost their jobs and believing that they are overreacting and being lazy is just absurd.

  3. This is a really good point. The point you made using the scene where it played wouldnt it be nice in the background really shows what you are saying and it shows that this is not exciting or something happy about. Its very ironic.