Sicko: A Review
Wow. That was my immediate reaction to Micheal Moore’s latest film as the credits rolled after it finished. Every American should go out and see this movie. It doesn’t matter whether you are a Democrat, Republican, Independent, Green, Libertarian, liberal, conservative, or any other category in the ideological spectrum. Watch it. Now.
The movie is thought provoking, sure to provoke outrage, and is certain to piss people off—for many different reasons. It is one of those rare films which is designed to—and which succeeds—in eliciting a strong, visceral reaction from the viewer. I don’t see it as the type of movie that people will just say “It’s OK.” Either they will love it (I did) and hate it. Very few will be stuck in the middle and apathetic.
Michael Moore’s latest movie details the problems in the American healthcare system. It makes the argument that the profit-driven model, controlled by the pharmaceutical, HMO’s and insurance companies is not working for the benefit of average Americans. He gives a human face to the statistics that say around 44 million Americans lack health insurance. He contrasts the inadequate and extravagantly expensive costs of American health care with those of Canada, the U.K., France, and Cuba which all enjoy free, socialized, government-run healthcare (among other benefits that ordinary people get).
In case after case, he gives an anecdotal, man-on-the-street treatment to the healthcare crisis that faces the U.S. He shows examples of people who have lost loved ones, have had to pay thousands of dollars, and who have been denied crucial treatment which could have saved lives. He contrasts these sad, American stories with upbeat, almost comical positive (but true) stories of ordinary citizens overseas who have free or inexpensive access to healthcare and medicine. In case, after case, after case, Moore chronicles what is wrong about American healthcare and lauds the examples of Canada, France, U.K., and Cuba as perhaps something worth looking at and adopting.
I have read some negative reviews about Moore’s movie. Some say that Sicko is one-sided and functions more as propaganda than a serious, objective treatment of the subject.
If it is one-sided and it is propaganda—I say so what? You have to think—one-sided and propaganda towards what and against what? If you want a clinical, two-sided treatment of the healthcare crisis facing America today, you will find Michael Moore’s movie to be one perspective of the debate. It is an attempt to frame the debate along the terms of ordinary people being denied the care and benefits that they need.
But hey, you don’t need to look far to get the other side. You only need to look at the PR departments of the insurance and drug companies and HMOs (which themselves, sell their own brand of propaganda) to get the corporate perspective and spin on this. So if you want to get the other side on this I say knock yourself out! You only need to contact the PR departments of these organizations to get their perspective on American healthcare.
What Moore does brilliantly is that he wants you to be outraged and to think about these issues even if you oppose his point of view. What he wants is for you to try to refute him—to take him seriously enough to want to refute him. Anything except be complacent and apathetic. Because an complacent and apathetic population accepts whatever crap and shit is handed to them without complaint.
And that, ultimately, aside from healthcare, is what Sicko is about. It is primarily about what kind of society do we, as Americans, want America to be. Do we want it to be a dog-eat-dog, every man for himself kind of place where selfishness, profit and greed are the primary arbiters of how society and its benefits are allocated? If you have yours fine and screw everyone else? Or do we find something in the best of what the rest of the world is doing to take care of their citizens and emulate them because they are doing it right? Because as a society, we have a moral obligation to look out for one another and establish a system for such a basic human need—healthcare—that benefits all Americans and not just a lucky few.
I know that some assholes would say “If you like it so much in Canada/France/UK/Cuba why don’t you go there and live there?” I would respond that is not the point of the movie. Moore’s point is not that everything is so great overseas and therefore the solution is to move there and to hell with the U.S. and Americans. His point is that Americans must realize the extent of the problem enough to want to do something about it so that the stories he detailed in the movie won’t have to happen again.
In the richest, most powerful country on earth, no citizen should have to go without healthcare as a basic right. His point, therefore, is not that he hates America and therefore, wants to expose its ugly underbelly for all the world to see. I believe Michael Moore loves America and he made this movie because he is outraged at what it has become. He sees the promise of a better future for the country by emulating a system of social solidarity and caring for one another as citizens as demonstrated in other countries by their mass commitment to healthcare that is available to all at minimal cost.
So in a nutshell, this is an important movie that is worth seeing. I don’t care if you call yourself a liberal, conservative, or any other political label. You owe it to yourself to see it and examine your own beliefs regarding what type of society you want America to be. If you find yourself siding with the drug, pharmaceutical companies and HMOs, hey that is good too. At least you will know whose side you are on.