December 20: “Roger & Me” opens, puts GM in the spotlight on this date in 1989
Twenty-four years on, Michael Moore's "Roger & Me" can still start a fight in the right crowd. What Moore lacked in technical filmmaking skill he more than made up for in chutzpah, as the scenes of Flint, Mich., ruination set to The Beach Boys' "Wouldn't It Be Nice?" demonstrate. Even today, many auto insiders criticize Moore as a stalker of General Motors Chief Executive Roger Smith, and would contend that what happened to Flint would have arrived no matter who sat in GM's top chair, that the company inevitably couldn't hold the majority of U.S. car sales. To its credit, "Roger & Me" raises points about wealth and poverty that became the center of last year's presidential election and beyond. Today, GM builds heavy-duty pickups, engines and metal stampings in Flint, employing 4,800 people, and while the company just announced a $600 million investment in its Flint factories, about 43 percent of the city's residents earn sub-poverty level incomes.