Tuesday, July 3, 2007


"Sicko" is Micheal Moore's latest political documentary about the state of U.S. society. As openly polemical as his previous films ("Bowling for Columbine" and "Fahrenheit 9-11"), "Sicko" is an exposé of the U.S. health care system, or perhaps, the lack of an American health care system. Peppered with horror stories from various parts of the country, it is typical Micheal Moore- shocking social commentary meant to wake the sleeping 'middle America.'

Not unlike "Bowling," Moore turns to comparative international analysis to add to his U.S.-based examples of the utter injustice of the private, for-profit health care system. That's how we find ourselves in a Windsor, Ontario walk-in clinic, a London, U.K. National Health Service hospital, a Parisian restaurant and a massive concrete hospital in downtown Havana. In each place, Moore talks with an assortment of doctors, ex-pat Americans and what he passes off as every-day citizens to back up his ultimate claim that everybody but the Americans have it right.

Please Micheal, spare us another recycled rendition of your soiled American dream! I'm not sure why I put myself through this every time, but there he is once again, passing Canada off as a socialist heaven vis-a-vis the U.S. capitalist hoard. Last time I checked, there were many people in Canada fighting to improve the universality of health care, and in so doing, fighting back against the increasing privatization of the health case system. I'm sure the same can be said about people concerned about the state of health care in Britain, France and even Cuba. Does Micheal Moore ever talk to these people? Apparently not, he prefers to talk to Americans living in Paris about how much life there is easier than in the U.S. Who are these people who live comfortable lives sipping wine in Parisian restaurants? No doubt they exist in droves, but c'mon Micheal, stop trying to make me believe this is the norm.

I'd much rather he provide us with an integrated analysis that would help me to understand the globalizing push to privatize hitherto public services. Instead, I can't help but feel that Moore sees his audience as incapable of anything other than very basic information digestion. Keep it simple stupid might work for reality TV, but it minimizes his otherwise important message.

And one more thing. Stop playing the nationalist card Micheal. Here I am listening to the stories of a number of working class/working poor Americans, when Moore brings out the national heroes, the 9-11 emergency workers as the ultimate example of a system gone bad. Shit, he even brings them to Cuba because the prisoners at Gitmo are getting better health care. What a sorry gimmick! It plays to all of the worst xenophobic and racist tendencies in U.S. society to suggest that heroes deserve at least the same as terrorists. Micheal, last time I checked many of these apparently coddled prisoners, getting their MRIs and colonoscopies at Gitmo, at least according to the U.S. military, have never been charged with anything! Oh yeah, and did you ever stop to think that the reason for the military's ostensible generosity in regards to prisoner health care comes from the fact that they're busy torturing the prisoners on a daily basis! Oooops, maybe it's not so great to be a prisoner at Guantanamo after all. Micheal, don't use racist imagery to make your point about health care, it's unseemly and discredits your message, forget about the fact that a hugely disproportionate number of the 50 million Americans without health care insurance are racialized, something you fail to mention outright.

What about the movie? I've seen it all before, and I'm feeling a little insulted by Moore's apparent distrust in my abilities to see through his manipulative ways. I'll still recommend it to people, but begrudgingly, as every new Moore film makes me less and less of a fan. It still beats the other crap Hollywood puts out on a regular basis. It got me thinking about a few things I hadn't in a while, and that's usually a good thing. I just wish Moore could try to shock a little less and leave us all a little room to wiggle and come to our own sorry conclusions. I can hear middle America sighing in disbelief, not at the content of his film, but the style in which he presents it.