Michael Moore has an agenda. Let me say that right off the bat. There is no such thing as completely objective reporting, everyone has an angle, a point of view and Moore certainly has an agenda with every film he’s ever made. Like him or hate him, what he is doing is expressing HIS views of the situation. With that in mind,SiCKO is probably his least controversial film to date. Is there any controversy, of course, this IS Michael Moore, but instead of creating a personal attack-filled one-sided argument like he did in Fahrenheit 9/11 or a meandering, directionless search for answers like Bowling for Columbine, he gets back to his Roger & Me roots and goes after answers with a laser-like accuracy.
His target this time around is the American health care system. Specifically, what’s wrong with it. And in Moore’s mind, what’s wrong with it is “managed health care,” HMOs… insurance companies. These are the big evils preventing Americans from being healthy and, if you take everything he shows as face value, Moore does a pretty good job of convincing us of this. For me, though, the film does a better job when it’s comparing the US system to the systems of other countries, rather than when it’s just telling horror stories of insurance claims gone horribly awry.
Don’t get me wrong. I feel horrible hearing all the stories about the countless men and woman and children who have died because treatments, which have been in place since before Sputnik, were deemed “experimental” but for 90% of Americans, that’s preaching to the choir. We’ve all heard the stories, know people it’s happened to and watched with glee as the insurance companies were found negligent in court case after court case. Not to sound callous, but been there, done that.
Instead, what Moore does very well is show us how we, as a country, rate against other countries in the world and the answer is not very well. When an infant in a third-world country has a better chance of survival than an infant in America, we begin to sit up and take notice. When we are presented with the fact that we are the only western country that does not have a free, universal health-care system, we start to feel outraged. By the time Moore takes a cadre of sick people to Cuba to try and get them the state-of-the-art medical attention the inmates at Guantanamo Bay are getting, we are emotional wrecks. We want blood and we want it now (and if it’s for a transfusion, we want it for free!).
Over the course of nearly two hours, Moore shows us how health care is handled in Canada, England, France and, yes, Cuba. And yes, he only gives us the information he wants us to see, but that information is fairly damning of the US system. Are those systems perfect? No, but even with the questions a normal person would ask, they still seem far better than ours. He also takes the opportunity to take pot shots at the President, Congress and various other political entities, but again, as opposed to some of his other films, he doesn’t use clever editing to make his point. Instead he just lets the clips run so the politicos can hang themselves.
So yes, Moore has an agenda. He is self-serving, egotistical and slightly pompous. But remember, he only has your health in mind. If you’re not healthy, you won’t be able to get out to the cinema to see his next film.
(Originally published at FirstShowing.net)