Filmmaker Moore opens up about his latest, Sicko
chris atchison/metro toronto
By the time his new film hits theatres today, conservative commentators across Canada and the United States will be decrying yet another attack on American society by director Michael Moore.
This time Moore is going after the U.S. health-care system and what he feels are its deficiencies — namely the fact that almost 50 million Americans lack basic medical insurance and are too poor to get it — with the new documentary Sicko.
Liberals, on the other hand, will be cheering Moore’s bravery in highlighting what they will see as the greed of a system designed to generate profits above all else, which turns sick people away at hospital doors simply due to their inability to pay.
Such is the polarizing work of the director who has made it his mission to expose the flaws in the social and political fabric of American society with documentaries such as the Academy Award-winning Bowling For Columbine and the wildly successful Fahrenheit 9/11.
But don’t call him anti-American. That’s where Moore draws the line.
“I don’t think it’s anti-American to point out to my fellow Americans the things that are wrong in America and the things that need to be fixed,” Moore says prior to a recent premiere screening of Sicko in London, Ont., where part of the film was shot.
“(The United States) was founded by radicals and revolutionaries who felt that the highest form of patriotism was to ask questions and to criticize those in power, and to hold those in power accountable for their actions. There is no greater pro-American act to do than what I do.”
Sicko puts the U.S. health-care system under the microscope with comparisons to the universal systems of Canada, France, Great Britain and Cuba.
Moore utilizes his typical blend of comedy, gut-wrenching emotion and anger-inducing political rhetoric to make his point that almost one-sixth of the population of the most prosperous country on Earth suffers because they lack basic health insurance, whereas people in other First World countries, and even some in the Third World, enjoy government-funded universal coverage.
“When anthropologists dig our culture up a few hundred years from now or maybe even 50 years from now, they’re going to look back and say, ‘How barbaric were these people that they wouldn’t even say that their own children had a right to health care, had a right to see a doctor if they got sick? That is really cruel.’ ”
Perhaps a crueller reality for some advocates who agree with Moore’s stance is that little change is likely to follow Sicko’s release. As he points out in the film, Bill Clinton’s plan to introduce some form of universality to the U.S. health system was quickly quashed by legislators and lobbyists in the mid-1990s.
And with that, Moore offers some advice to his Canadian brethren — he’s one-quarter Canuck, after all — about not following the lead of our neighbours south of the border.
“I hope for Canadians (Sicko) acts first of all as a reminder that at your core you did come up with a good idea here,” he says.
“Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water as you try to fix it. Don’t think that the solution lies in the American system. Fix your system with Canadian ideas. Solve the Canadian problem with Canadian people and ideas. Don’t create a society of haves and have-nots like we have.”
- Sicko opens today.