Ready for Moore?

Ready for Moore?

By Marc Larocque

“Sicko,” the new documentary directed by the contentious social justice advocate Michael Moore, arrived in theatres this weekend. But with a mundane topic like health care, what type of reaction could the film cause?

“Many theaters have been selling out,” Moore wrote on his website Saturday. “The Bush administration’s investigation of this movie is certainly not keeping people away.”

The U.S. Treasury Department commenced an investigation on Moore’s trip to Cuba, which was documented in a segment of “Sicko,” to seek medical care for ailing rescue workers who served at Ground Zero after September 11.

When notified of the investigation in May, the filmmakers were worried the government might try to seize the film or impede its release. Moore told the Associated Press he stored a copy of the film outside the United States for security purposes.

In this segment of the film, Moore brought the rescue workers, as well as other Americans with woefully inadequate health care, on two boats motoring toward Guantanamo Bay. There, prisoners accused of ties with terrorism are kept and supplied with quality health care. The sequence is spliced with clips of politicians touting the excellent health care provided to Gitmo’s supposed terrorists.

Moore seemed to expect the prison to provide the sickly folks he was bringing with health treatment.

“They just want some medical attention, the same kind that al-Qaeda is getting,” he yelled through a megaphone in the direction of a guard tower. “They don’t want any more than you’re giving the evildoers, just the same.”

Although, when Moore received no answer from the guard tower, this left movie viewers bewildered.

At this point, a message appeared, overtly insinuating U.S. government interference with the clip. Mysteriously, in the next scene, Moore walked around Cuba with only the rescue workers – the other ailing Americans were suddenly gone.

Nonetheless, the Ground Zero rescue workers received the health care they needed for free in Cuba. This has left many critics wondering what role Cuban officials played. One of the rescue workers received an inhaler to treat her respiratory problems for a remarkably low price in relation to how much it would cost in the United States. Many would contend, however, that the state of health care in Cuba is poor and the sick there are encouraged to find treatment in the United States.

The seemingly-staged scene provoked disdain from naysayers, but the central message of the movie remains the same: A universal health care system is what the majority of U.S. citizens truly want. It appears the contention about this film boils down to the capitalistic medical industry in the United States versus the universal, or socialistic, health care most other Western countries have.

Moore provided Americans a view into the success of the Canadian, British and French models for medical care – all of which are publicly-funded. Moore debunked U.S. politicians, like Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, for supporting private health care for fear of a more Communist medical practice. Moore makes great satire of the situation, deeming the rejection of universal health care as a variation of the Red Scare.

Amid the juxtaposition of capitalist and socialist viewpoints, Moore’s presents intimate encounters with U.S. citizens. These people are the ones who have health insurance, he reminded us.

One woman, insured by Kaiser Permanente, was denied treatment for her feverish baby at a hospital emergency room outside her HMO network. The baby died.

Another woman in Kansas City watched her husband die after repeatedly being denied various drugs his physician prescribed for his kidney cancer, and who in the last stage of his life was denied a bone marrow transplant that could have saved him.

Yet another woman was told the cancer she was diagnosed with must have been a preexisting condition she had before receiving health insurance. She subsequently died.

The documentary provoked viewers to question if the poor, working class should have to treatment equal to that of the rich, ruling class. The government is denying the dying what they need to serve the honchos of private health insurance and pharmaceutical industries.

Moore is offensive to many because he takes appalling truths and orchestrates them into his presentation of injustice.

“Personally, I think he’s an obnoxious fat pig. He’s so brash in his opinion,” said Betty Manning, administrative assistant in the physical therapy department at Northeastern.

She said she was utterly opposed to seeing Moore’s new film.

“And I’m not a Bush fan, either. [Moore] is not open-minded,” she said. “I think he just hates and nothing’s going to change because of him.”

Middler philosophy and math major Ken Cereste had not seen “Sicko,” but he said Moore’s films can be slanted.

“His documentaries are interesting,” Cereste said. “Sometimes I see them as focused toward a certain message, but there is nothing wrong with that. He makes a successful occupation out of it, at least. His sales show that.”

Some students found value in Moore’s message in the film.

“I just think health care should be free,” said Jade McPherson, a middler chemistry major. “Universal health care could make it less of a social class thing that determines who is treated well.”

McPherson said she liked Moore’s work and that his methods don’t matter to her.

“I’m sure he offends people, but I feel like people have a right to know things,” she said.

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