Academic Writing

Friday, July 06, 2007


It will make you sick

In Michael Moore's newest piece investigative documentariansm he investigates the state of American health care. The film goes deeper, however. What he is really asking is, how can a country, which claims to care for the tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free, treat them with such indignity and lack of respect? As the movie admits to in the beginning, it is not going to be about the thousands of citizens who cannot afford heath care. It won't focus on those who have to choose which finger they will be able to afford to reattach. Rather, it will be about those who pay out of pocket hundreds of dollars per year in insurance fees and yet, when an emergency occurs or a procedure is needed, their claims will be denied based on a plethora of excuses the insurance companies invent. He explores how people suffer and have to make impossible decisions to try and stay healthy. How doctors are praised for denying care and procedures if it saves the insurance companies. How people have gotten sicker and have even died because their health insurance refuse to pay for something which they claim to be experimental. All the while the audience sits in the theater in utter shock and awe at how such atrocious occurrences happen in what we consider to be a great country. The movie offers tremendous laughs, usually at the expense of the politicians and the state of our health care. The laughs are usually uncomfortable chuckles as the audience realizes how so fundamentally UnAmerican it is to deny care to those who are sick, and yet, it seems to be happening on a scale that no one could have ever imagined.

The next piece of the film focuses on the government elected officials who squashed any attempts to socialize the medical system. No one is safe from the menacing insurance companies who are willing to buy out anyone who wants free health care for everyone. Moore successfully links the current lack of national health care to the Red Scare, where socialism equals EVIL! He explains that the Republican politicians crush any attempt to socialize health care because it is akin to communism and everything to which "American Ideals" are in direct opposition . Moore, in his infinite liberal wisdom skews the film in a very leftist direction to ensure the viewers think as he wants them to.

In the next part of the movie he actually travels to other countries, which, like America, pride their Democratic government and yet allow national health care to strive. In England, France and Canada, health care is public and the system seems to be successful. The people are happy and cared for, the doctors are living the high life and they all look at America with shock that that is not the case across the pond. However, in this exploration it is strikingly clear how he does not interview the "other side." He does not explore any downsides to Nationalized health care - such as the "optional" treatments that Americans tend to have access to which these people do not.

The final piece focuses on the 9/11 rescue workers who are still suffering from maladies incurred while saving lives. What Moore documentary would be complete without a mention of 9/11 and how the American infrastructure screwed up there? Moore introduces us to workers who have neither been able to afford nor receive medical care for their post 9/11 injuries. In a related note he makes it clear (through official testimonials) that the terrorist detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba receive top notch care, most of which is never seen by law abiding citizens. He takes the workers to Gitmo to try to obtain some of this care. I'm sure you can guess what happens as they approach the compound. In the end it is the Cuban doctors and nurses which are able to provide the care for these American Heroes who have been neglected by the very country they risked their lives for. Again, it is not explained how Americans were able to receive this care from the Cubans because they are not citizens of Cuba.

As all Moore documentaries, he does not strive for a journalistic value of unbiased equal reporting. Sicko is very much a one sided argument. There is no mention of how the American health care system does succeed, such as, the level of medical expertise that isn't necessarily offered in other countries. He also doesn't mention the failings of a socialized system or interview those in France or England who find fault in their nationalized system. So take this movie with a giant boulder of salt because Moore does a very good job at finding fault where he wants you to find fault, without giving you the resources to make a truly informed opinion. However, in the end Moore does make a number of excellent points and really does highlight the incredible failing of our health care industry. As usual, Moore is not afraid to go where no other will go. The hope of this film is to mobilize Americans to do something, anything, to change things. To refuse the status quo and insist on better conditions. To be adamant that being ranked #37 in the world for health care in unacceptable. And while Moore does exaggerate to a certain extent (not every Cuban has access to the best health care in the world either), it is all to prove his ultimate point, as Jeffrey Lyons said, "Don't get sick."

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