12.05.2007

"they live in a world of we, not me"

We finally saw "Sicko" last night; we bought it for our complete Michael Moore collection. (New readers wondering why it's taken me so long to see this movie: Movie Season runs from November to April.)

It's a great movie, of course, and more than I had heard. I'd heard and read that Moore compares the health care systems of three countries: the US, Canada and Cuba. But the UK and France are in there, too. The segment on France, when he interviews Americans living in France, is particularly telling and important. I really related to the woman who said she feels guilty because she has it so good and her family in the US does not. I regularly receive emails from Americans who would like to emigrate to Canada but can't meet the requirements, and it makes me very sad.

And the movie is about more than health care. There's a lot of basic political information on the root of the problem (profit) and how to remove it. In other words, Sicko is about capitalism vs socialism. Moore's interview with Tony Benn, more of which is included on the DVD extras, is particularly instructive. Benn is a genius at reducing the issues into clear, simple terms.

Moore's conclusion, before he does the very funny ending with the laundry, is similarly succinct and brilliant.
It was hard for me to acknowledge that, in the end, we truly are all in the same boat and that, no matter what our differences, we sink or swim together.

That's how it seems to be everywhere else. They take care of each other, no matter what their disagreements.

You know, when we see a better idea from another country, we grab it. If they build a better car, we drive it. If they make a better wine, we drink it.

So if they've come up with a better way to treat the sick, to teach their kids, to take care of their babies, to simply be good to each other, then what's our problem? Why can't we do that?

They live in a world of we, not me.

We'll never fix anything until we get that one basic thing right. And powerful forces hope we never do. . . .

Because if we ever did remove the choke-hold of medical bills, college loans, day care and everything else that makes us afraid to step out of line, well, watch out - because it will be a new day in America.

The world of we? That, my friends, is socialism. And that new day would be nothing short of social revolution.

We'll never see pure socialism in Canada or France or the UK, and I'm not necessarily saying we should. A mix of capitalism and socialism, with powerful restraints put on the capitalist system for the greater good, might be best. (I'm not altogether sure of that.) But if we accept capitalism as a necessary evil, then the more socialism we mix into our society, the healthier, stronger and more inclusive our society will be.

In that sense, Sicko is Moore's most radical movie to date.

I have only one criticism of Sicko: Moore's depiction of the supposedly excellent care the prisoners receive at Guantanamo Bay. I understand where he was going with it, of course. But I don't like the implication that there is anything positive going on in the US's offshore concentration camps. Too many viewers could come away thinking that those prisoners are actually living the good life - you know, the "but the slaves were well treated" argument.

"Sicko" should be required viewing for every Canadian, lest we take for granted the most precious gift bequeathed to us from a great socialist, and our treasured fundamental right. More on that in my next post.

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We also recently saw "Volver," the latest from the brilliant Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar. It is simply wonderful. I have absolutely loved every movie he's done for many years, especially "Talk To Her" and "All About My Mother".

This has been an excellent movie week - Ken Loach, Almodóvar and Michael Moore, three of my favourites. On deck: "Shut Up And Sing," "The History Boys," and a British mock-horror-comedy called "Severance".

6 comments:

James said...

A mix of capitalism and socialism, with powerful restraints put on the capitalist system for the greater good, might be best. (I'm not altogether sure of that.)

I've always maintained that every "pure" political or economic model can work well in a small society where everyone knows everyone else, and none of them can work well in a larger society. If you want something that works in the real world, and not just in theory, you need to mix and match the best bits from multiple systems.

L-girl said...

That's a good point, you're probably right.

By all reports (except those from the US govt), socialism is working beautifully in Cuba, which is a small society, not small enough for everyone to know each other, but small compared to many nations. That's socialism without democracy, of course, but as an economic system, it's doing great.

deang said...

I felt the same way about the Guantanamo segment. I get the feeling that Moore is just conforming to what he thinks the majority of Americans believe about the prisoners in Guantanamo in order to get them to accept his larger points. That certainly doesn't excuse such a gross misrepresentation of their nightmarish treatment, however.

I understand why you waited to see the film (baseball season, wasn't it?), but seeing it in a packed theatre the week it opened was so encouraging - applause and shouts of agreement throughout, even an ovation when Tony Benn said, "If you can find money to kill people, you can find money to help people." People leapt to their feet and roared with approval at that.

L-girl said...

I understand why you waited to see the film (baseball season, wasn't it?),

Yes. :) And I see everything at home anyway. I never see movies in the theatre.

but seeing it in a packed theatre the week it opened was so encouraging - applause and shouts of agreement throughout, even an ovation when Tony Benn said, "If you can find money to kill people, you can find money to help people." People leapt to their feet and roared with approval at that.

My mother told me the same thing happened where she saw in in New Jersey. She said people gave the movie a standing ovation at the end, something she had never seen before. Very cool.

Thanks for your thoughts on the Gitmo segment.

James said...

Socialism is working beautifully in Cuba

It's working well in some ways and not so well in others. Article 62 in the Cuban Constitution alone is pretty anathema to a beautiful society: "None of the freedoms which are recognized for citizens can be exercised contrary to... the existence and objectives of the socialist state, or contrary to the decision of the Cuban people to build socialism and communism. Violations of this principle can be punished by law."

L-girl said...

It's working well in some ways and not so well in others.

As I said, it's socialism without democracy. It's working as an economic system.

Socialism is not a political system. It can be used in democratic or authoritarian regimes, or anything in the middle.

The political system in Cuba is obviously not a democracy, and it lacks many individual freedoms we believe are important.

No one is hungry or homeless, everyone has education, every has health care, the same resources are available to everyone. No one is rich and no one is poor.

These are just facts. Whether or not one believes the sacrifice is worth the gain is another question altogether.