Heroes and Villians in Michael Moore's Roger and Me:A Fantasy Theme Analysis
Smith, Kathryn L.
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Michael Moore’s Roger and Me (1989) was a highly acclaimed documentary film when it was released in theaters nearly sixteen years ago. Though scholars have examined the film through a number of critical lenses, none have looked at it using Ernest Bormann’s Fantasy Theme Analysis (FTA). FTA is a lens well-suited to examining the dramatic, story-like qualities of the film, and it illuminates Moore’s rhetorical focus on heroes and villains in ways that no other study has done. Throughout the film, it becomes clear that Moore is the kind of rhetor who constructs heroic and villainous personae in the process of creating a dramatizing message. In effect, he sets the stage for the chaining out of a specific fantasy regarding GM plant closings in Flint, Michigan during the 1980s. Previous studies acknowledge that Roger and Me is part of the documentary genre, and this essay adds to the academic discourse surrounding the film because it demonstrates that documentary filmmakers may also focus on persona as a primary rhetorical strategy. FTA provides another lens through which to analyze Roger and Me and documentary films in general, and examine how they function as forms of persuasive rhetorical discourse.