Wednesday, October 21, 2009
One of the basic tenets of capitalism is that it takes money to make money. Simply stated, the rich get richer and the poor continue to get the shaft. You may think--as many do--that such a system is inherently unfair...unless you're one of the fat cats. Therein lies the rub, because the fat cats control things, (the top 1% controls more financial wealth than the bottom 95% combined) and as long as they do, things aren't going to fundamentally change. UNLESS health care reform, and other similar efforts to bring a little more fairness to our society, become a reality. Unless the PEOPLE get behind these things and pressure their representatives to get them done . And that, essentially, is Michael Moore's call to arms in his latest documentary, Capitalism: A Love Story.
Moore lets you know up front that he thinks capitalism is an evil system, as he documents the recent financial collapse and subsequent bail out funded by the taxpayer--giving billions to Wall Street while ordinary citizens lose their jobs and their homes. The personal is indicative of the universal, as Moore talks with airline pilots who have to go on food stamps to make ends meet, and a family losing the farm that was in their possession for generations. He even presents church officials who declare that greed and selfishness are unchristian... WHAT A CONCEPT! (These weren't the Sunday morning TV preachers who exhort their followers to send "love offerings" so that they can live high on the hog!)
Michael Moore is nothing if not a showman, and many of the antics he resorts to in Capitalism: A Love Story--like trying to make a citizen's arrest on the board of directors of AIG, or unfurling crime scene tape on Wall Street--are designed for dramatic and humorous effect, though they do aid in casting him in the light of populist hero.
Perhaps the only thing the film can be faulted for is not making some kind of balancing statement that, yeah, Americans need to take SOME responsibility for trying to live beyond their means, thus placing themselves on that slippery slope to financial ruin in the first place.
FDR called for good jobs, education, decent housing, and adequate health care--things the U.S. was instrumental in obtaining for Germany and Japan after WWII. Now, we have a president who is echoing those same principles--and, well...you see the push back from the entrenched forces who benefit from denying such things to the average American. What Michael Moore is calling for at the end of Capitalism: A Love Story is nothing less than a populist revolution. The PEOPLE (who possess the real power--but not unless they get organized) taking their country back. Unfortunately, (I fear) as long as most Americans can still hang onto their SUVs and their giant screen TVs, they're not going to give enough of a damn to take that kind of step.
Nonetheless, the early matinee showing I went to--normally sparsely attended--had a good turnout, and at the end people stood up and applauded.
That's a hopeful sign.
GRADE: B +