Monday, July 09, 2007

Sicko: audience manipulation? Or great storytelling?

Husband and I went to see Sicko - Micheal Moore's latest documentary - on Friday. And as an American living in Canada I have a fairly unique perspective on the Health Care crisis in the United States. At one point in the documentary an American living in France (which has the BEST health care system) said that she felt guilty for all that she was given in France when her parents had worked their whole lives to only get a part of what she can take for granted in her adopted country - paid vacations, free healthcare, prescriptions and dental care.

I feel much the same way. After that movie I wanted to gather up every loved one in the United States and bring them to my home - so the stress of aging and dealing with HMO's could be lifted from their shoulders and they could go back to the business of being happy.

Now calling anything Micheal Moore does a documentary is slightly skewed. Sicko is to a documentary as Fox News is to journalism. But luckily, Moore is using his powers for good. (Unlike Fox). Moore is liberal. No doubt about it. He's liberal and lots of people can fire cannon balls into the huge holes in his other documentaries. But, I think with Sicko - he's figured out how to shut the mouths of even the most uninformed and vocal of the republican right. He uses babies and firemen.

Lots of people are being abused by the system. But Moore's thesis statement is: Because of the US health care system babies and fireman (who worked in and breathed the hellish mix of chemicals in ground zero) are dying. Uncared for and neglected.

Now, who - who can possibly say that the health care system works when Moore zooms in on the tear streaked face of a mother who lost her 18 month old daughter to a high fever that could be treated by antibiotics. And who could say that the firemen and EMS employees who have been cut off and run around and ignored by the government they worked for! shouldn't get the care they need - even if it is from a Cuban doctor?

Yes - he's totally manipulative - but that's what makes him a good storyteller.


Anonymous said...

I'm with you on great storyteller. I hear Sicko is great, so am really looking forward to seeing it.

And really isn't storytelling to some degree manipulating people's emotions?

Lil Lex said...

I agree that Moore is manipulative. But I already disliked the right wing before I saw movies like Bowling for Columbine and Farenheit 9/11.

Maureen McGowan said...

He is a great storyteller in my opinion. (and Sinead's right... storytelling is about evoking or manipulating emotions) And I do believe that everything in his movies is true... It's just that he chooses which truths to tell and which to gloss over or exclude -- or who deeply to explore things... (I'm reminded by the "Canadians don't lock their doors" thing in Bowling for Columbine. Sure, every door he tried was unlocked and yes, my parents rarely lock theirs (Maureen puts online. Gah!) But if he'd walked around Toronto (or any big city) instead of Windsor, his "testing" of this theory wouldn't have held up... But he makes his point.)

But I really hope that many, many Americans see Sicko think about it -- instead of just assuming it's biased and not going...

The one main argument that I hear Americans make against universal health care is "I don't want the government controlling my health". BUT, BUT, BUT... How (especially after seeing this movie) could anyone think having the government in control could possibly be worse than having profit driven insurance companies controlling it????

(But I'm totally digressing from the storytelling thing ;-)

Unknown said...

I really want to see this movie. You're right, Michael Moore manipulates us with his documentaries. But in a way all documentaries do this.

But I like how he can take an idea and create something unique with it in a movie. I lived in the US for two years and had quite the eye opener with health care. Paid for insurance that didn't cover anything when the time came to use it. Very scary. Canadian system may not be perfect, but I'll take it anyday.

Will his movie change the US health care system...probably not. But I wish it would.

Molly O'Keefe said...

I agree -- good storytelling is manipulation. But really good storytelling doesn't let on that it's manipulating you.

I'm just glad he's a voice for the left and that he has more invested in American's being kind and generous and good to each other than any other political activist out there - I think. I loved it in Sicko when he said -- who are we? It was great.

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