Roger and Me
The movie “Roger and me” by Michael Moore is a documentary about Roger Smith’s takeover of General Motors in the late 1980’s. Moore documents the transition from prosperity to poverty in the city of Flint, Michigan. There are three different angles from which to look at the situation in Flint. These three different angles are a conflict theorist’s view, a functional analysis’ view, and a symbolic interactionist’s view. The first view, conflict theory, is looking at who has the power, how they’re using this power, and who they’re exploiting with it.
A conflict theorist would view the situation as Roger Smith using his power to ruin Flint, Michigan. Smith became the CEO of General Motors and started making massive changes immediately. He started by laying off thousands of auto workers at the Flint, Michigan auto plants so that GM could make new plants in Mexico, even though GM was making record profits. The auto workers were devastated and although they strived to better themselves and get new jobs, there were none available.
Secondly, the functionalist’s view can be applied to this situation. A functional analyst’s view is a pretty broad one that consists of looking at the big picture and how everything works or doesn’t work together. Functionalists would say that it was a necessary step for GM to close its plants in Flint because it will bring in more profits and allow the company to grow larger. Having cheaper labor in Mexico will lower the prices of new cars too.
On the other hand, GM is being dysfunctional by closing the plants since that is where most of the citizens of Flint work. With so many people unemployed, the economy of Flint became horrible. No one bought anything so stores went out of business, creating even more unemployment. The final view if that of the social interactionist’s. Throughout the movie, Roger Smith is portrayed as an evil figure. Everyone that Moore interviews view General Motors and Smith as the devil.
Flint, Michigan is viewed as dying town that isn’t worth anything anymore. Celebrities such as Robert Schuller, Pat Boone, Anita Bryant and Bob Eubanks all come to Flint in an attempt to raise the citizens’ spirits. Robert Schuller looks like a savior when he comes with motivational ideas to preach to the towns unemployed and tell them what they should do. Bob Eubanks, who is seen as the guy who made it out of Flint and became famous, comes and has a live newlywed game to cheer everyone up.
Even the President of the United States comes to talk to some of Flint’s citizens, but he doesn’t have much to offer other than a free lunch. To bring it all together, Michael Moore did a very good job at documenting the reactions of everyone involved from the workers to the CEO of the company. Conflict theory, functional theory, and social interaction are the three important views that can be applied to the “Roger and Me” film. Looking at all three views together is essential to seeing the whole story and how everyone involved feels about it.