Let me set the record straight that I have always admired, respected and cheered Roger Ebert with his film criticism, as well as his outspoken arguments over the state of politics and his view on where America stands. Ebert's days when he was arguing with Gene Siskel (may god rest his soul) were glorious for me and other film lovers who not only were entertained but educated from the arguments Ebert and Siskel raised.
These days, as we all recognize, Roger Ebert has been a survivor of salivary glands cancer (probably one of the most painful and deadly forms of cancer known to man). While Ebert has lost his jaw and his ability to speak (although new technology is enabling Ebert to communicate his thoughts into computerized sound interpretation and enhancement of his old voice), he still has his brain and his ability to type. As some of you may notice, Ebert is quite tech savvy these days: keeps a blog, updates his Facebook page regularly and does Twitter just as much as any other regular user. In addition, Ebert has not lost his love for journalism or film criticism and continues to do what is missing in film criticism these days: a sense of real objective analysis, journalism and love for films at the same time.
However, not enough of us thank Roger Ebert for promoting Michael Moore to make his Oscar acceptance speech one filled with fire at the 2003 Academy Awards.
"I'd like to see Michael Moore get up there and let 'em have it with both barrels and really let loose and give them a real rabble-rousing speech.It's also important to recognize at the same time, Ebert himself was careful in how he had criticized Michael Moore's acceptance speech and behavior afterwards:
Q: I was surprised by the amount and the volume of the boos. Why do you think there was such a divided house?You could agree or disagree with Ebert's criticism of Michael Moore's delivery but one thing that is not in denial is Ebert's patriotism and his understanding and experience in the world of journalism.
Ebert: The Academy is paranoid about its image. I think they did not want America to feel that they subscribed to what they feared Michael Moore was going to say because he talked so quickly that they couldn't really assimilate what he was saying in time to do anything more than realize that he was going over the edge as far as they were concerned. I would propose to you that if Michael Moore had taken a deep breath, and looked straight at the audience, and said, "I am a nonfiction filmmaker during a fictitious Presidency," and stopped, I think he basically would have gotten a positive response to that. But his whole delivery was wrong. I think his delivery prompted the audience. They were not ready to assimilate that much that quickly. You know, they didn't boo anyone else, and there were several other anti-war speeches that were applauded.
Q: But they were much less explicit.
Q: I mean, "Shame on Bush" is about as explicit as you can get.
Ebert: But by the time you got to that, the boos were already 30 seconds old.
Q: How do you think it played with the larger audience, the American public?
Ebert: I think it gave ammunition to Michael Moore's enemies. I think it played into their hands.
Now these days, Ebert is definitely paying attention to the 2012 Presidential race and is not shying away from providing his perspective on things:
"Obama continues in the presidential campaign in possession of his own lifelong principles," the former TV host-turned-blogger wrote. "Romney now seeks the luxury of running on both his principles — and Obama's. What depresses me is that the polls suggest the electorate isn't alert enough to realize that. What allows me hope is that, given a little time, I trust the American people will figure this one out."