By Don Simpson | October 2, 2009
Director: Michael Moore
Writer(s): Michael Moore
Our most famous modern day muckraker, documentarian filmmaker and author Michael Moore, is at it again – this time with a no-holds-barred attack on our beloved Capitalist system. How dare he? This well-greased system is working perfectly…at least for the fat cat plutocrats of our country!
Moore begins Capitalism: A Love Story with video surveillance footage of bank robberies (including one thief sporting a burnt orange Longhorns cap – go horns!) which serves two functions: an analogy of our government stealing from us (re: the Wall Street bailouts) and a glimpse of the social upheaval caused by raising unemployment rates. Moore then goes on to cover such topics as under-paid professions (such as airline pilots), worker strikes, dead peasant insurance, the mortgage crisis, and the Wall Street bailouts.
Abiding by his usual modus operandi, Moore interjects a lot of stock footage into Capitalism: A Love Story, mostly for humor relief – Moore has an unparalleled knack for comedy and entertainment in his documentaries. And Capitalism: A Love Story is probably the most personal movie Moore has made since Roger & Me – he uses a lot of footage of himself as a child and even features an interview with his father. Moore really wants to drive the point home that he’s affected by the state of our economy, just like the rest of us.
Moore has a tendency to preach to the already converted. At this point of the game (after making films such as Fahrenheit 9/11 and Sicko) – and no matter how fair and balanced Capitalism: A Love Story purports to be – no hard-line Republican is going to allow Moore the time to lecture them on the faults of their prized and cherished free market system. And even amongst moderates and independents…I’m not sure how many Americans would agree with Moore that Capitalism is truly evil (corrupted and tainted, maybe…), especially since Moore never offers any viable alternative solutions. Would it even be possible to take greed, selfishness and dishonesty out of Capitalism? So then we’re looking at a new economic system altogether (Socialism?) – how many Americans are going to agree to that?
Moore also pops the question “what would Jesus do?” – which could have actually been very affective…however, he focuses solely on the Catholic perspective of the issue. First of all, in theory Catholic priests and bishops live their lives as communists (so aren’t they biased in their opinions about Capitalism?). I’m just not sure how effective it will be for Baptists and Methodists to be told by Catholic priests and bishops that Capitalism is evil. I could be wrong, but I don’t think the majority of the people that need convincing on this matter are Catholic (or at least most Catholic priests and bishops don’t).
But don’t get me wrong – personally, I agree with Moore that Capitalism thrives on greed, selfishness and dishonestly; and, yes, it is inherently evil. I agree that hard-working people should be fairly compensated and not be forced to live below poverty level. I strongly believe (to co-opt FDR’s Second Bill of Rights) any hard-working person should be able to afford a home, education, public transportation, healthy meals, clean water, clean air, adequate health care and a reasonable amount of entertainment. (Probably the single greatest achievement of Capitalism: A Love Story is that Moore was able to unearth the presumed lost footage of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s January 11, 1944 State of the Union address which contained his infamous Second Bill of Rights.)
Before I hop off this soapbox…let me just say one more thing (and I’m echoing Moore’s sentiments on most of this): No other nation would have sat idly as their elected representatives doled out billions of taxpayer dollars to “bail out” a corrupt financial industry. The buck (mind the pun) can be passed back and forth between the Republicans and the Democrats on who is to blame on this issue, but I think it is we as Americans who are to blame for not standing up and saying “no.” (Maybe we didn’t understand what was going on? Maybe it was fear that we didn’t know what the ramifications of not bailing out Wall Street would be?)
The good news is that Moore seems to think that it isn’t too late to do something about this, and he calls on the audience to start a revolution now, before it really is too late. The question is…who will listen? (Cue my favorite revolution theme song of them all…Billy Bragg’s “The Internationale”…)