Planet of the Humans movie poster

Michael Moore’s film Planet of the Humans mounts an attack on alternative energy, but as numerous critics have noted, it is way out of date, based on data from ten years ago. See, for example, Dan Gearino, Clean Energy Reporter for National Environment Reporting Network.

We fans of Moore can only hope that this embarrassing fiasco was merely a sloppy deviation from his longtime role as a muckraker and truth-teller. It should be noted that Moore himself did not direct this film, but is credited as “executive producer,” while Jeff Gibbs was the actual director. So, while it is by no means clear that Moore had much to do with actually making the film, he is certainly responsible for releasing what is a thoroughly sloppy, outdated, reckless production. What perturbed me most was the almost total lack of numbers, for the simple reason that statistical data is really the only way to make a real comparison between modern alternative energy and its antique relatives. For example, I kept wanting to know something concrete, like how many gallons of gasoline would be replaced by running an electric car, but such information never appeared. We kept getting only vague warnings that the alternatives were as bad or worse than real energy.

The core problem was not only outdated data, but the attempt to cover an immense and complicated topic in such a simplistic way. Compare this with some of his other work. What is moving and successful about, say, Moore’s documentary, Bowling for Columbine, is that it focuses on a single event at a single school where two characters murder some of their classmates. Imagine what a fiasco this film would have been if Moore had dragged in homicide statistics from half a dozen different countries while attempting to explain the assorted homicidal pathologies in the U.S. Or if he had launched into a detailed speculation about why the murder rate is so much higher in the U.S. than in, say, Switzerland, whose citizens own one helluva a lot of guns, but manage a meager homicide rate of a only 0.59 people per 100,000: ten times lower than the present U.S. slaughter of 5.8 per 100,000. Or suppose he had launched into a detailed analysis of the different types of guns, knives, axes, etc. deployed in our stupendous carnage compared to the Switzerland’s.

Let’s hope he gets back on track, though I’m not at all sure what the track might be. Owen Gleiberman of Variety offers a some interesting speculation on Moore’s decline in popularity, saying that Trump-era conservative would probably declare: “ ‘It’s about time! Michael Moore has lied so much that it’s all finally caught up with him.” A Trump-era liberal would probably say, ‘I still agree with him, but I’ve seen enough Michael Moore movies. I know his message already.”

That, I think, sums up Moore’s dilemma.