August 9th, 2007 Film, Film Reviews, Xpress

As night follows day, an election follows a tax break and no discernible reduction in drugs follows a major drug summit, so too a Michael Moore film is followed by a military-style campaign to discredit him, everything from Republican-funded documentaries opposing him (he claimed there were no less than six) to accusations of incorrect facts.

He’s offered thousands to anyone who can prove facts in any of his films wrong and claims he’s never been taken up on it, but the tide against him is as hysterical and concerted as any reaction to an assault on the status quo of the military-industrial complex.

Sure, you can accuse him of grandstanding. In bringing the corruption-by-profit of the American health system to light, he lionises both the UK and Canadian government-funded health systems by showing us British hospitals handing money out to patients to get taxis home and talking to a National Health doctor who lives in a million pound London home and drives an Audi.

He doesn’t tell us that in the last 20 years, Britain has become as market-oriented as the US and the National Health system is in such disrepair the English hospital system was said to be on a par with that of most third world African nations a few years back.

It’s that sort of ‘tabloid current affairs show’ approach that’ll get Sicko attacked, but the right wing makes great use of dumbing down its position or being selective with facts to appeal to a fickle, disinterested electorate. Moore is fighting fire with fire.

Another example of Moore’s skill as a politician is the cheque he sends anonymously to the webmaster of an anti-Michael Moore website after the guy posted that he’d have to close the site down to take care of his sick wife. Arguing not just for universal health care but the institutions of free speech, Moore uses the guy’s plight to make his point, sending his wife the money for treatment the government should be giving her.

Yes it’s cheeky, emotive, looks great for the cameras and the timing couldn’t have been better for the film, but here’s the thing about all Moore’s grandstanding, aw-shucks persona (which we have no idea is true) or his wily skill in tugging our heartstrings; his heart’s in the right place.

Few of us are stupid enough to fall for the warm and fuzzy rhetoric of politicians, the media and the corporate world, but when they’ve let things get to the stage where hospitals put near-catatonic patients in taxis and dumps them at refuge centres because the couldn’t pay their bill, a lot of us would like to do something about it. Moore wants to as well.

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