The Importance of Social Ranking in Michael Moore's Roger and Me

Michael Moore's film, Roger and Me is about the closing of several General Motors plants in Flint, Michigan and the effects that the situation imposes on Flint's citizens. Throughout the movie, Moore, the director and narrator, tries to reach Roger Smith, chairman of GM, to let him understand Flint's suffering and devastation. Flint, after all, is the birthplace of General Motors. The citizens therefore feel that Roger Smith owes it to Flint to keep the plants alive. The story begins as an autobiographical film about Michael Moore. It explains how growing up in Flint, Moore never realized the significance of GM to the town. Nevertheless, he soon learns that the town's entire economy is based on General Motors. Moore's film utilizes various narrative techniques to emphasize that only an elite few have control over issues that may affect others whose voices are ignored. The use of major figures, point of view, and overall tone help him to make his argument.
Moore's film is told from a first person perspective which allows the viewer to sympathize for the narrator. Moore is presented in the film as the main character while he continues to play the role of an insignificant individual: himself. Though Moore is a part of the community of Flint, he can still be described as an underdog. He is an average, unattractive, and poorly dressed man. Taking advantage of his ordinariness, Moore represents the everyday citizen of Flint who has to succumb to policies and standards set by the ?cr?me de la cr?me? of Flint. An intriguing part of the film in which the narrator represents himself as an average man is the scene in which Moore gets thrown out from a country club in which Roger Smith would allegedly be found. Access to the country club is reserved strictly for wealthy, ?significant? people, and Moore clearly does not fit this criteria. He also gets denied entrance to Roger Smith's office after many stubborn attempts. At one point, Moore gets a chance to speak with Smith by posing as a major shareholder in GM, but Smith ignores him after learning that Moore is an impostor. When Moore tries to interview a former spokesperson for a GM plant that was recently closed down, she refuses to be interviewed because Moore does not represent any major news network. Ironically enough, the woman is also an average ?nobody?. Moore chooses not to edit the rejections from his film in order to mock the way that people are brainwashed into only yielding to some and not to others based on their social ranking. He avoids his own appearance in the film while he still maintains a first person point of view.
The overall tone of Moore's film further illustrates the ongoing struggle between the powerless and the dominant elite. Moore contrasts the lifestyle of the members of Flint's upper class with that of the rest of Flint and illustrates the apathetic attitudes of the rich towards the rest of Flint. He shows wealthy people attending parties, playing golf, and enjoying life without a worry in the world. In fact, some of them go as far as to accuse the poor of simply being lazy and choosing not to work. On the other hand, Moore's film helps the viewer to understand that the poor people of Flint are, in fact, trying to survive. Moore gives the viewer a look at the so-called ?lazy? people's attempts at making a new living. One lady, for example, decides to begin a business that determines the different colors of the clothes that people should wear based on the complexion of their skin. Moore describes the utter ridiculousness of her new business as well as that of another citizen of Flint who raises and sells rabbits. To further emphasize the unsuccessful efforts that the town is making to recover, Moore's film depicts several multi-million dollar projects aimed at attracting tourism to Flint. These efforts, needless to say, are done in vain. They still, however, help to prove that the rich people are wrong in saying that Flint is simply being lazy. In a town where poverty prevails, almost every way to make a living fails. There is, of