Sicko

ScreamingEagle

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June 18, 2007

Get ready. It’s coming. And it’s gonna be LOUD! You think the outrage caused by Fahrenheit 9/11 was bad? You think the pro-NRA responses to Bowling for Columbine were bad. Well, fellow citizens, it’s safe to say that you ain’t seen nothing yet. Michael Moore is back, and with a little less than two weeks before his latest example of “docu-ganda” (as his critics would call it) hits theaters, the groundswell of hyperactive handwringing is already in full flummox mode. For those who are unaware of the filmmaker’s latest screed, SiCKO tells the woeful tale of America’s medical insurance crisis. Not from the perspective of those without coverage. No, they’re the real lost causes. Moore isn’t after the easy target this time. Instead, he has taken aim at the bloated bureaucracy surrounding the nation’s numerous health care and pharmaceutical companies, and how it harms – and even kills – many of its supposedly indemnified customers.

As a result, pundit power is already working overtime debunking the film. Of course, that’s kind of tough to do when it’s yet to see a wide theatrical release (you had to go to Cannes to see the most recent screening). But in what many are calling a grandiose publicity ploy on the behalf of Lionsgate, the full length feature somehow was ‘leaked’ to Internet file sharing sites (or P2P protocols as they are known), giving anyone with a bitTorrent program and a relatively fast DSL line the opportunity to bootleg it. Add this to the already tenuous position taken by the Federal Government over the filmmaker’s last act trip to Guantanamo Bay and other points inside Castro’s Cuba, and you’ve got a mole hill waiting for the prerequisite media dung to help fertilize it into an untenable mountain. It won’t be long before the apologists and the activists get their prostylitizing panties in a nice big wad over the many inaccuracies, half-truths, and gross overgeneralizations the director determines are necessary to make his point.

Unfortunately, their fuel comes to an already raging inferno. Moore’s work post-Roger and Me is already a sideshow. Though many could have anticipated the carnival barker approach to its marketing, no one could have accurately predicted the unprecedented preparations to tear this man a new bash-hole. Naturally, it’s a division drawn down ideological lines (Conservative vs. Liberal, patriot vs. provocateur) and very much founded in a previous film that divided a nation. Fahrenheit 9/11 took on an incredibly popular President, argued against the leaders ‘security through force” scare tactics, and complained that America shouldn’t be invading a country that had no real designs on destroying us. Many called it treasonous and demoralizing to our fighting men and women. Even with the critical community under its belt, there were those who couldn’t cotton to Moore’s refusal to conform. What a difference three years makes.

Now, the focus is far narrower and more easily delineated. SiCKO centers its story on how the development of the HMO’s, and the privatization of medical care, created a crisis in coverage which literally destroys the lives of the very people it’s supposed to support. Horror stories of denied claims and wild, worst case scenarios are piled on top of already obvious dicta (insurance companies are in the business of making money) and governmental boot licking, resulting in a chaotic, corrupt system so steadfastly self-debasing that it really doesn’t need Moore’s help making it look bad. Indeed, what the filmmaker does here is basically call out the cads and have them readily admit their graft. The kicker is in the afterthought. It’s not that these companies commit these immoral crimes against human health. It’s that they do so with absolute – and in some case, law protected – impunity.

The second half of the film is a stroll through three competing socialized systems – Canada, England and France. Each one is presented like paradise on Earth, a place where no myocardial infarction goes untreated, where no late night fever lacks a free and easy cure. In the next few months, expect to hear citizens of these noteworthy nations debunking Moore’s many declarations. The Canadians are already up in arms (if ever so slightly) while Parisians in particular do not like the filmmakers definition of “average” (it’s in connection with a supposedly ‘middle class’ couple). By the time the Fall begins its annual blitzkrieg of cold and flu remedy commercials, the rest of the Westernized world will offer their two cents about universal health care and its many diverse elements.

But that’s not really the point with this latest round of rebuking. Moore, like outspoken auteur Oliver Stone, is a man better at the big picture than the multiple minutia that accompanies concepts such as facts and accuracy. No one is questioning the need to overhaul what is becoming a major financial, social, and emotional albatross around the neck of the world’s remaining Superpower. But because Moore makes his films out of theories first and statistics second, many like to undermine his truths without beginning to broach the core conceits. They somehow believe that if you can disprove some percentage of the veracity in Moore’s claims, the overall idea is invalid. Naturally, that’s bunk. The sky may not be purely blue (in fact, it is made up of many colors refracted and refocused by the moisture in the atmosphere – the tendency toward blue is the result of said reflecting), but calling it so is not a crime…at least, not inherently.

It’s like quarreling over semantics. Is France’s health care 100% free? Probably not. Do Canadians really have the wonderful, problem free universal coverage as claimed in the film? Most assuredly No. Is either system, from a purely fiscal approach to the patient, better than America’s cash machine mandate of money based acceptance/denial of coverage? Without a doubt. So why argue the potential faulty finer points? If you can agree on the foundation, do all the bricks have to be faultless as well? It may make for better debate, but since the opposition (the health care industry, the lobbyists, and politicians who kowtow to them) won’t be forthcoming with all their facts either, it seems only far to fight liar with liar. Yet it’s unreasonable to call Moore a fraud. In a country where expression is paramount among our rights, he is completely free to speak his mind. Equally, he must be open to those who will criticize and condemn his efforts, even when those assessments are more assertion than argument.

The current preemptive take on SiCKO is obviously a tactic taken from the unbelievable backlash experienced on Fahrenheit 9/11. In the case of the Republican Party, there was a need to protect a sitting president running for re-election. It was part of a strategy that guaranteed that no issue would set the campaign agenda unless the GOP were in complete control of it. In a far more damning documentary, Adam Del Deo and James D. Stern’s …So Goes the Nation, we learn that in the political trenches of each candidate, it’s war almost every second of every day. Anything and everything is fodder for advantage and opponent undermining. If, somehow, Moore had managed to gain enough credibility to sway the election, he’d have achieved a monumental democratic goal. Thanks to the massive machine in place, however, the movie had to settle for winning an international cinematic award. Toppling a soon to be unpopular war mongering President just wasn’t in the cards.

This time around, it’s all about money. Moore is doing to Aetna and Kaiser Permanente what he did to General Motors, except he doesn’t have to confront a bunch of CEOs to do so. He has hundreds of willing whistleblowers eager to expose the demoralizing practices they were part of just to earn a paycheck. In this case, the effect is more obvious and potentially potent. We see bleary eyed citizens crying, good and decent men and women whose lives have been inexplicably altered by the big bad robber baron of the 21st century – the insurance company. It’s the motion picture equivalent of shooting puppies. It may be manipulative, but it’s effective as all Hell. And better yet, it’s the perfect visual soundbite for a nation that needs its problems pitched at a text-messaging level of meaningful or they fail to register. SiCKO is a striking, nauseating, heart-wrenching, reactionary masterwork. That can’t be good news for the people over at Pfizer.

That’s why the repercussions have been so immediate and incremental. SiCKO is going to stir some response. It’s going to solidify the many grass roots consumer groups into one big voice of the people. It will more than likely be a topic on the tip of every candidates tongue as we enter 2008 and prepare for another pointless changing of the Executive Branch guard. On the other side, there will be those so lost in the jingoistic stance of the last seven years that they’ll be unable to tolerate the constant mocking of the US system (those pesky foreigners, they just love to hate us for our many liberties). They’ll milk the complicit media for as much screed time as possible, and Moore will have to appear on various chat fests to defend himself and his artistic choices. This won’t stop the conspiracy theorists for blaming each other over the film’s web appearance, nor will it defuse those already waiting for the 29 June play date to pounce.

While the leak does go to a wholly different issue regarding piracy, copyright, and Hollywood’s hopelessly outdated moviemaking model (which technology still trumps, damn those scientists), in this case, it also stokes the raging coals surrounding Moore’s most effective film to date. If the government was wise, it would back down from the bully pulpit and let the filmmaker have his medical days in the Cuban sun. In addition, the capitalistic cranks should also tone down the rebuttal rhetoric. It’s not like the multi-billion dollar health care industry needs their defending. Its got the money, and the connections, to secure its position. No, what everyone should be concerned about is the power inherent within the moving image. SiCKO may start a real people rebellion that could wrest this issue out of the hands of special interests once and for all. It may only be a movie, but it’s already having an impact. Just wait until it’s actually released.

—Bill Gibron
http://www.popmatters.com/pm/blogs/shortends_post/42729/the-front-page-sicko-fantastic
 

uscitizen

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I don't personally care much for Moore. He does however do our country a service by bringing up issues needing to be addressed in our society.
 

mattskramer

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His shows are more propaganda than documentary. He takes his position to the extreme. I remember that toward the end of one of his movies he leaves a house while thanking the homeowner for not shooting him. I wish he would have said that to me. I would have thanked him for not trying to physically assault me. His stuff is entertaining but I take it with a grain of salt. In my opinion he makes some points but he exaggerates the situation and does not provide a balanced view. Therefore, it is propaganda and not a true documentary.
 

Superlative

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His shows are more propaganda than documentary. He takes his position to the extreme. I remember that toward the end of one of his movies he leaves a house while thanking the homeowner for not shooting him. I wish he would have said that to me. I would have thanked him for not trying to physically assault me. His stuff is entertaining but I take it with a grain of salt. In my opinion he makes some points but he exaggerates the situation and does not provide a balanced view. Therefore, it is propaganda and not a true documentary.
With Moore's films all you have to remember what Mr Gibron says,

" Moore......... is a man better at the big picture than the multiple minutia that accompanies concepts such as facts and accuracy...........But because Moore makes his films out of theories first and statistics second, many like to undermine his truths without beginning to broach the core conceits. They somehow believe that if you can disprove some percentage of the veracity in Moore’s claims, the overall idea is invalid. Naturally, that’s bunk.


It is Propaganda, Its no different than An Inconvientent Truth. But if you are looking for it when you go into the theatre, then you wont be so surprised, or upset when you leave.
 

uscitizen

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I will not go to a theatre to see the film.
As with the others of this type I wait for free (almost) in home viewing.
 

mattskramer

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With Moore's films all you have to remember what Mr Gibron says,

" Moore......... is a man better at the big picture than the multiple minutia that accompanies concepts such as facts and accuracy...........But because Moore makes his films out of theories first and statistics second, many like to undermine his truths without beginning to broach the core conceits. They somehow believe that if you can disprove some percentage of the veracity in Moore’s claims, the overall idea is invalid. Naturally, that’s bunk.


It is Propaganda, Its no different than An Inconvientent Truth. But if you are looking for it when you go into the theatre, then you wont be so surprised, or upset when you leave.
Without statistics and logic, the big picture gets warped. There is a difference between case studies (isolated examples) and statistical surveys. I think that you can criticize a conclusion as invalid when there are no sound premises. Having said that, at least we can agree that it is propaganda.
 

onedomino

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Have you seen recent photos of Michael Moore? He must weigh well over 300 pounds. Moore could have waited a short time and then filmed the movie from his own "sicko" hospital bed. It was probably from his own personal zip code that Moore mailed the Sicko daily rushes to his film financer Miramax. A microscope would be needed to measure Moore's self-control.

Michael Moore to Hire Terminated GM Workers
by Scott Ott

Complete article: http://www.scrappleface.com/index.php?s=michael+moore

(2005-11-22) — Academy Award-winning filmmaker Michael Moore today announced he would immediately hire the 30,000 autoworkers that General Motors cuts as it closes all or part of 12 manufacturing plants.

About half of the former autoworkers will be trained to “edit news footage in ways that make people look stupid or evil,” Mr. Moore said, the rest will provide catering services.



http://movies.ign.com/articles/557/557238p1.html
 

Superlative

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Without statistics and logic, the big picture gets warped. There is a difference between case studies (isolated examples) and statistical surveys. I think that you can criticize a conclusion as invalid when there are no sound premises. Having said that, at least we can agree that it is propaganda.
But, do you think its Negative Propaganda?

Do you think the health insurance system is functioning perfectly?

"Is France’s health care 100% free? Probably not. Do Canadians really have the wonderful, problem free universal coverage as claimed in the film? Most assuredly No. Is either system, from a purely fiscal approach to the patient, better than America’s cash machine mandate of money based acceptance/denial of coverage? Without a doubt.

So why argue the potential faulty finer points? If you can agree on the foundation, do all the bricks have to be faultless as well? It may make for better debate, but since the opposition (the health care industry, the lobbyists, and politicians who kowtow to them) won’t be forthcoming with all their facts either, it seems only far to fight liar with liar. Yet it’s unreasonable to call Moore a fraud."
Do you feel that his movie, albeit exhaggerated, draws attention TO a problem, OR creates unwarranted awareness and false hysteria about a non-issue?
 

mattskramer

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But, do you think its Negative Propaganda?
I think that is propaganda.

Do you think the health insurance system is functioning perfectly?
No. I think that it should be improved.

Do you feel that his movie, albeit exaggerated, draws attention TO a problem, OR creates unwarranted awareness and false hysteria about a non-issue?
It is relative and subjective and based on degrees. What might be hysteria for some might be insufficient for others. Some people will be drawn to the issue. Some people will be turned away by the hype. I understand that the health care system should be improved. Yet, Moore’s style of shows turns me off to a small degree.

I guess that those who like his emotional showmanship might think about the issue and talk about it. I prefer a more dry, analytical, and cerebral approach.
 

uscitizen

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"Yet, Moore’s style of shows turns me off to a small degree."

Same here Matt. He is sort of a necessary evil to some degree.
I agree with the basic premise of most of his films, but they are a bit extreme and propagandish for sure. But they do raise needed issues and some people seem to need to see the Jerry Springer approach for the issue to sink in.


The truth generally lies somewhere in the middle.
 

Gunny

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With Moore's films all you have to remember what Mr Gibron says,

" Moore......... is a man better at the big picture than the multiple minutia that accompanies concepts such as facts and accuracy...........But because Moore makes his films out of theories first and statistics second, many like to undermine his truths without beginning to broach the core conceits. They somehow believe that if you can disprove some percentage of the veracity in Moore’s claims, the overall idea is invalid. Naturally, that’s bunk.

It is Propaganda, Its no different than An Inconvientent Truth. But if you are looking for it when you go into the theatre, then you wont be so surprised, or upset when you leave.
I disagree. When you destroy the premise of the argument, the argument falls with it.
 
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ScreamingEagle

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"Yet, Moore’s style of shows turns me off to a small degree."

Same here Matt. He is sort of a necessary evil to some degree.
I agree with the basic premise of most of his films, but they are a bit extreme and propagandish for sure. But they do raise needed issues and some people seem to need to see the Jerry Springer approach for the issue to sink in.


The truth generally lies somewhere in the middle.
Probably. Both sides have good points. However, our nation is fast coming to the fork in the road where we either reform the broken private system or turn into a nanny state with socialized medicine.

Did you hear MM speak about the subject? He presents quite an emotional and persuasive case especially when he points out that people don't get the care they need if the provider cannot "make money".

This is something just about everybody can relate to. Ever since the HMOs took over, decisions regarding your health care have come more under the control of your insurance company than your doctor. Not to mention it seems like your premiums keep going up and up and you keep getting less and less in return.

MM lays heavily upon the "right" and "moral obligation" of everyone to get good medical care when needed. I think his point of view via his movie is going to have a huge impact upon the public and the adoption of socialized medicine.

Are HSAs (Health Savings Accounts) the best answer for the private approach? Somehow I don't think most people are going to want to bother with them when they have the easier option to just let Aunt Nanny take care of you.
 

lieberalism

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michael moore only cares about cheeseburgers

same with rosie odonnell
 

red states rule

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Barbara Walters on Michael Moore's 'Sicko': 'I Think Everybody Should See It'
Posted by Justin McCarthy on June 19, 2007 - 13:23.
Barbara Walters, who plays an objective journalist on TV, loves to offer her ringing endorsements for left wing films. About a year ago, in June of 2006, Walters, upon interviewing Al Gore, asserted "it’s very important to see [‘An Inconvenient Truth’]." On the June 19, 2007 edition of "The View" Walters spoke with Michael Moore and again endorsed his new socialist advocating film "Sicko."

"A lot of the film is about, is about the insurance companies and the condemnation of them. I just have to say, I don't usually give opinions, but whatever you're Republican or Democrat or whatever you are, this is an amazing film. I thought it was -- I think everybody should see it. When it premiered last night, you got a standing ovation. That's unusual for you. Everybody loved you."

http://newsbusters.org/node/13576
 

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ScreamingEagle

ScreamingEagle

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I think individual HSAs (Health Savings Accounts) are the best answer we have so far. We should get younger people started on them and fade out the old system of employer coverage and Medicare. If HSAs were the source of funds for paying typical doctor visits, dental & eye care, pharmacy costs, X-rays, lab tests, etc. then people would become aware of how much their health care costs and who is providing the best care for the best price. They could buy the services of whatever doctor or clinic they wished, whenever or wherever. This would keep the insurance companies out of the picture and do away with the HMOs that control everything.

Since the individual would be the one paying directly for his own health care it becomes a free market and the middleman is pretty much kicked to the side. Doctors and clinics (and pharmacies) would vie with one another to attract business and prices would become competitive. Many people would stop abusing the system because they would have to pay for their visits out of their own pockets. Altogether it would streamline and cut the waste out of the system while still retaining the best competitive care possible. Capable doctors would like it because they would attract more clients and get paid better while the poor doctors would be weeded out of the system. Patients would like it because they are back in control of their ongoing health care. Over time their HSAs would provide plenty of money to pay for more health care as they got older. If they didn't need to use all their HSA savings for health care they could keep it for other things which would be a great incentive for people to take good care of themselves over the years.

Insurance companies could still remain in the picture, but only for catastrophic events. This should dramatically lower the cost of premiums because "everyday" health care costs would not be included. Since most people can't financially cover big cost health events like a heart attack or a major accident, they would get coverage for this by their insurance. Perhaps this type of insurance coverage should be made mandatory, like car insurance. Insurance companies should like this because they are not burdened with "everyday" health care costs so their profit margins should improve as they only have to plan for and deal with the occasional major event.

Michael Moore voices some valid complaints of the current HMO insurance system but I think he is inadvertently destroying his own pro-socialized medicine argument. It just goes to show that big groups like HMOs or Government are only going to muck things up. Nobody is going to be more concerned about your health care than YOU. It should be the individual who is in control of his own health care so the free market can respond to his individual needs - not some nameless bureaucrat operating behind the scenes. Instead of defaulting to government-controlled socialized medicine I think we should improve our competitive and private medical system which so far has been providing the best care in the world. HMOs or "managed care" and socialized medicine will only destroy it.
 

Toro

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My family and I are in France. Yesterday we visited, near Arles, the parents of some friends. These lovely people have a newly acquired dog, Tor. They came to own Tor because of the unfortunate death of their 60-year-old neighbor, whose dog Tor was.

Conversation at lunch revealed that the neighbor, who had a history of heart trouble, suffered severe chest pains a few weeks ago. He wisely went to the hospital seeking treatment. He was told that there was no space available for him. He was advised to go home and call back later to see if a room might have become available. He did so, but was told repeatedly that the hospital remained full to capacity. Several days later this man died at home, never having received hospital treatment.

This incident, while true, is also an anecdote. It doesn't prove anything about the merits or demerits of France's universal-health-care system compared to those of the (still somewhat) private system in the U.S. But this sad event does reveal that merely declaring, statutorily, that every citizen has a right to health care, or that health care is "free" to every citizen, does not make health care available to all or "free."

Secular priests performing ceremonies, beneath marble domes, in which health-care is declared "a universal right" do not, in fact, perform the miracle of making health-care universally available.
http://cafehayek.typepad.com/hayek/2007/06/an-anecdote-o-1.html
 

William Joyce

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Idea:

Under a socialist system, no one person would have the exclusive power to make and market documentaries. So Michael Moore's about 3 over the limit by now, eh?
 

Truthmatters

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No system is perfect ,perhaps the French were unwilling to fully fund their system huh?
 

Yurt

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With Moore's films all you have to remember what Mr Gibron says,

" Moore......... is a man better at the big picture than the multiple minutia that accompanies concepts such as facts and accuracy...........But because Moore makes his films out of theories first and statistics second, many like to undermine his truths without beginning to broach the core conceits. They somehow believe that if you can disprove some percentage of the veracity in Moore’s claims, the overall idea is invalid. Naturally, that’s bunk.


It is Propaganda, Its no different than An Inconvientent Truth. But if you are looking for it when you go into the theatre, then you wont be so surprised, or upset when you leave.

You know that, but many, many, many folks do not. His movies are taken as gospel by the vast majority who see them. That is why there needs to be a clear definition of "documentary."
 

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