Last week, filmmaker Michael Moore's latest documentary, Sicko, was released in movie theaters throughout the country. In his past "docupropaganda" movies, Moore has discussed issues like offshoring and gun control. Sicko represents Moore's attempts to highlight some of the issues facing the U.S. health-care system and contrast the U.S. medical system with those in other parts of the world. Here's my review of the movie.Just the facts (that help my argument), ma'am
Ever since 1989's Roger and Me, Michael Moore's films have been both frustrating and disappointing. He always makes several articulate and thoughtful points in his movies, and Sicko is no different. But Moore has a fondness for interspersing half-truths and distorted facts with his excellent (but still debatable) arguments for change.
For instance, Moore talks to the widow of a lung cancer patient about the struggles they went through with their insurer to get the treatment they desired for him. Moore shows that the doctors wanted to treat the patient with Genentech's
Mentioning this point would hurt his argument in favor of socialized medicine, so of course, Moore omits it. When Moore tries to make points like this one (which could be a valid argument for the need to change the drug regulatory approval process, but cannot be used to knock private insurers), he loses much credibility with me. This sort of thing is a common occurrence throughout Sicko.
What's also hypocritical and ironic about Sicko is that, while lampooning U.S. politicians for making emotional arguments against socialized medicine, Moore himself focuses a large chunk of the film on emotional and anecdotal arguments in favor of a socialized health-care system. For example, he shows the luxurious dwelling of a well-educated family in France and how they live an upper-class life despite high tax rates. An anecdotal argument like that one does not count as a point in favor of socialized medicine in my book.
Sicko also follows the plight of individual Americans who don't have health insurance and how they are left to fall through the cracks. Moore highlights individual people who failed to get adequate treatment in the U.S. and blames this on the U.S. health-care system -- but he surely could have found similar cases in other countries with socialized medicine, such as France, that he loves to hold up as examples of improved systems. For example, it's ironic (in a dishonest sort of way) that Moore fails to mention the nearly 15,000 deaths that occurred in France four years ago during a heat wave. The French government deemed many of these deaths preventable, saying they were the fault of the country's health-care and labor systems.
Even considering the above issues, if your choice is between watching Sicko or some mindless action or romance flick, you should definitely choose Sicko. You may be surprised that I'm not recommending that you stay away from it, but Sicko is thought-provoking fodder for healthy debate on the subjects it highlights, regardless of your political views.
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