What exactly does Michael Moore need with $50 million and nine houses? We'll never know, but we can hazard a guess, thanks some details from the documentarian's pending divorce.
"Roger & Me" is required Jalopnik viewing, if not for the devastating consequences of one town's reliance on the auto industry then at least for the spectacular displays of wealth said industry affords. So it's a little strange that the man who has built a career criticizing capitalist culture is very much a capitalist himself.
Moore and his wife, Kathleen Glynn, will end their marriage of 22 years this week in a courthouse in northern Michigan. It's there where the couple shared a 10,000-square-foot home on Torch Lake, an affluent tourist community worlds removed from his Flint hometown. Moore initiated the divorce, records show.
The house, as well as eight other residences, a $50 million fortune amassed from "Roger & Me," "Bowling For Columbine," "Fahrenheit 9/11" and a slew of other documentaries and books, and other assets, are at stake between the two.
The Detroit News reports that the house, nicknamed "The House that Roger Built," was the final straw between Glynn — whom he met at a muckraking newspaper in Flint in the in the 1970s — and Moore. They bought the home in 1995, but Moore says Glynn's constant spending to expand the lakefront home contradicted his message of being a champion for the little guy.
Residents who passed by in their boats monitored the home for the latest growth, they said.
"He is not a common man. No way," resident Nancy Schwalm said while having lunch with two relatives at Lulu's Bistro in Bellaire.
The mansion played a starring role in the divorce pleadings.
In one filing, Moore complained the expansion cost five times more than Glynn said it would. She handled the couple's personal and business expenses, he said.
OK, OK. So maybe they got out of control with one house. But I'm having a hard time believing that Moore, who once told CNN's Larry King that "those who invest their money wrongly or, you know, don't run their business the right way, then they don't do well," was wholly opposed to his wife's spending. As he noted in the divorce paperwork, they both had equal access to the money they earned.
If you took the massive northern Michigan house out of the discussion, Moore and Glynn, a co-producer of most of his films, still owned eight other properties, including a Manhattan condo that used to be three separate apartments. If you took the eight other properties out of the discussion, Moore and Glynn built a giant house in a solid red part of Michigan. Neither actions gel with Moore's messages of anti-capitalist socialism.
Let's revisit that King interview from five years ago again:
Michael Moore: No. I hope not. It means that, for 20 years, as you said, I've been doing this. I started out by showing people what General Motors was up to and how this was a company that was making a lot of bad decisions and it wasn't good for the company nor for the country. That was 20 years ago.
And since then, I've covered a number of issues and different things. But it all seems to come back to this one issue of "follow the money."
Who's got the money? And whoever has the money has the power. And right now, in America, tonight, Larry, the richest 1 percent have more financial wealth than the bottom 95 percent combined.
King: You're in that 1 percent, though?
Moore: I don't think I'm in that 1 percent, but I make documentary films. But I mean, obviously, I do well because my films have done well. But, you know, even if I were, I think it's my responsibility — my moral duty that if I've done well, that I have to make sure that everybody else.
King: Does well too or has a chance?
Moore: Well, has at least a chance but that — and that the pie is divided fairly amongst the people and not just a few people get the majority of the loot and everybody else has to struggle for the crumbs.
Perhaps this could all be an experiment Moore is doing and we'll see a documentary on existential capitalism and the American marriage hit theaters by Thanksgiving 2015. Or maybe Moore, long denied the fruits of labor lavished upon his biggest targets, got a taste of the poison and got hooked.
We'll never know for sure since the details of the divorce are mostly sealed to the public.