Media studies research topic: Michael Moore and documentary films

It has been six years since Michael Moore released his last documentary film, Capitalism: A Love Story.

Learn more about Michael Moore's latest documentary film. (Credit:

Learn more about Michael Moore’s latest documentary film. (Credit:

His latest effort, Where to Invade Next, was unveiled during the Toronto International Film Festival and poses a range of interesting research paper topics.

The latest from Michael Moore

The September 10, 2015, release of Where to Invade Next was a surprise to many. “Michael Moore on His Radical New Doc: ‘Let’s Invade Europe’” by David Fear for September 13, 2015, revealed more about what the new documentary film covered.

Fear explained the movie’s focus: “what the Fahrenheit 9/11 director presented was his own socially conscious variation on Mark Twain’s The Innocents Abroad.” Moore uses his documentary film to draw attention to the social issues he feels Europe gets right, from humane prison systems to healthy school lunches, factories that are worker-friendly and colleges where tuition is free. Research paper topics in a variety of disciplines—sociology, economics or political science—could discuss how the United States compares with European nations in these areas. 

Another award-winning documentary film?

Michael Moore and his previous documentary film efforts have garnered lots of praise (including an Academy Award) and infamy. Scott Feinberg discussed Michael Moore’s possibilities for both with Where to Invade Next in “TIFF: Will Michael Moore’s ‘Where to Invade Next’ Contend for an Oscar?”  September 11, 2015, for The Hollywood Reporter.

Feinberg wrote that the previous voters in the Academy Awards documentary genre “had major reservations about doc films that employed non-traditional storytelling techniques, such as reenactments, animation and, most relevant to Moore, a filmmaker inserting himself or herself into a film and helping to shape events, as opposed to standing back and observing them, as in cinema verite.” Feinberg posits that newer members may feel differently, but the Michael Moore film unveiled at the Toronto International Film Festival doesn’t break any new ground, which could present a problem, in his opinion. Other research paper topics that could be used in a filmmaking or drama class include a study of the evolution of the documentary film or a look at controversial Oscar decisions.

Creating controversy

Michael Moore is no stranger to controversy in his previous films. In fact, his last documentary film—Capitalism: A Love Story—not only tried to explain why capitalism was evil and harming average Americans, but also argued that the economic theory was contrary to the teaching of Jesus and therefore offensive to God.

Capitalism: A Love Story” by Clayton Whitt for the January-February 2010 issue of The Humanist discussed how Michael Moore’s efforts succeeded and failed in that movie. Whitt felt the documentary film chose to ignore the failings of the Catholic Church in an effort to make its point about capitalism. Whitt said, “this particular film may not have been the appropriate venue for delving into the sins of the institution of the Catholic Church, nevertheless Moore’s polemic against the capitalist system is so strong, and so outraged, that it cannot help but appear as a major inconsistency to give the Church a pass.” Research paper topics that delve into the role that the Catholic Church or religion have taken in politics and society could use Michael Moore’s film as a starting point.

Even those who applaud Michael Moore’s documentary film efforts sometimes feel he misses the mark. Now that Where to Invade Next has been revealed to attendees of the Toronto International Film Festival, the discussion can begin on how successful his latest movie is.

Want to learn more about media studies? Check out Questia—particularly the section on documentary filmmaking

Do you think Michael Moore and his latest documentary film, Where to Invade Next, is something you would want to see? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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