In the midst of an election season, you’d expect Michael Moore – whose last film, Capitalism: A Love Story, was released three years ago – to be playing his traditional role as liberal provocateur. Instead, he’s been most visible as . . . a guy taking long walks. Since March, in what began as a jokey tweet urging his followers to join him on a stroll, Moore’s regular #miketakesawalk Twitter outings have drawn thousands.
So how did this begin?
It was a Sunday night. I’d read earlier in the day in The New York Times that more Americans are on antidepressants than go to the movies.
That’s depressing in all sorts of ways.
Exactly. I thought I’d tweet that out. This began a little bit of a firestorm. One group started tweeting that Hollywood movies are so bad, they’d make you more depressed. Then a fight broke out between people for and against antidepressants. Finally, some guy tweets to everyone, “I’ve found that all I need is a brisk walk.” I laughed and retweeted him and wrote, “I think he’s got the right idea. I’m putting my shoes on right now. Anyone who wants to join me can go.” And I went on a 30-minute walk.
And it grew from there?
Yes. The next day, I thought, “I’m gonna try this again.” Mind you, I’m not doing this for any reason! I wasn’t planning any kind of walking routine. But I got even more responses, and I felt an obligation to keep going. People started tweeting pictures of their walks, or things like, “If you’re going at 7 p.m. on the East Coast, do I have to go at 4 p.m. on the West Coast?” Europeans are weighing in: “Seven is too late! That’s midnight here!” By the end of the month, I was having too much fun to stop. And I was feeling good, personally.
I think people have been surprised by the lack of a political element.
People say, “What’s the cause?” The cause is putting one foot in front of the other. There’s honestly no rhyme or reason behind this. I deplore exercise. Diets are a scam. I don’t believe any of this stuff. I just started doing it because it was a weird thing to do, and then it became a collective thing to do with thousands of people around the world.
So what else can we look forward to?
I can’t really say. There are three different projects I’m working on. They’re not all films. People will become aware of them in the next year. I made the mistake of talking too much about Sicko before I finished the film, and the health-insurance lobby really came after me, so that’s all I can say.
What are your thoughts on the presidential race?
I’m sure right about now Republicans are thinking, “Why the hell did we ever give women the vote?!” One of my Twitter followers wrote on my feed today, “In November, the Republicans are going to find out what a real pussy riot is.” When they write the history of this election, it might come down to Todd Akin and these last few days. The gap between McCain and Obama on the women’s vote was something like 14 percent. I wouldn’t be surprised if it doubled this year. And that’s good because Obama needs women to replace young voters.
You don’t think young people will come out?
Enthusiasm is down because the person they voted for didn’t come out of the gate swinging. He played “Kumbaya.” I don’t understand what part of “10 million vote mandate” he didn’t understand. That’s why I think this job is not going to be decided by independents. It’s going to be about who does the best job of physically getting people out. If you could do an American Idol poll, where nobody had to get off the couch, Obama would probably still win. But that’s not how we vote.
After a summer of the Romney campaign making a series of mistakes, is there a danger of overconfidence on the part of Obama supporters?
Yes. Republicans are relentless and they’re smart, too – they’re not all dumb – and on Election Day, they’ll be up at five in the morning. The only way our side will see five in the morning is if we’ve stayed up all night partying. So I say don’t get too cocky about Obama winning. You only have to look at what happened in Wisconsin a few months go [when Republican Gov. Scott Walker staved off a recall]. Everyone thought that was going to go the good way, and the bad guys won. The bad guys are very good at winning.
This is from the September 13th, 2012 issue of Rolling Stone.