‘Sicko’ blasts U.S. health-care system

Carly at the Movies column by Carl Larsen

Michael Moore is kind of like George W. Bush. You’re either for him, or you’re against him.
The guy has been a bee under Bush’s saddle from the get-go, and is appropriately amused by the horde of right-wing fundamentalists that he relentlessly bumfuzzles.
His latest film, “Sicko,” is technically his best and, for us common folks who continue to have the nasty habit of getting sick, perhaps his saddest.

With his jovial humor and his belief in our basic values intact, Moore skillfully lays open the topsy-turvy, bottom-line approach to health care in America in a way that makes you wonder, “How the hell did things get like this?”

Well, good little documentarian that he is, Moore traces our current HMO system back to (surprise, surprise) Tricky Dickie Nixon. Through audio tapes, photos and videotaped speeches, our shameful screw-the-poor arrangement becomes another shining star on the GOP Christmas tree, birthed by Nixon, nurtured by Reagan, raised by Bush. It’s all up there on the screen in glorious color.

Unlike his earlier barn-burning blasts, Moore has turned the spotlight not on himself but on his subject, and it only serves to strengthen his case. It’s hard to figure how the Moore detractors are going to try to take him down for this one, but they’ll surely try.

I saw this film, which also flashlights the pharmaceutical industry and our friends at the insurance companies, in a middle-classed, suburban mall theater. Throughout the showing, I heard people in the audience muttering “Um-humm!” and “Damn tootin’” (along with a colorful variety of other appellations). And throughout the closing credits, the audience stood and applauded. I kid you not.

The film is not all grim truths. In many (appropriate) spots, it’s actually quite funny. When Moore, for instance, portrays our leftover-from-the-’50s general reaction to “universal health care,” Communism rears its ugly head once again, and America is suddenly Socialist, with goose-stepping Russki storm troopers parading down the streets.

Our kneejerk reaction to socialized medicine is then contrasted to the structure currently in place in Canada, England, France and Cuba. I’m sure the health-care systems in these foreign lands is not quite as peachy-keen as Moore suggests, but they’re a heck of a lot better – at least for those few of us folks living in America who do not happen to be millionaires.

While entertaining, this film is far from being sugarcoated. It raises a good many questions that, so far, there seem to have no clear answer. But deep down, like Michael Moore himself, most of us are optimistic about our country and our founding values, and believe these wrongs can be set right. All we need is someone willing and able to do it.

And finally, what has this neo-Nader got in the works? For next year, he’s working on a little number called “Fahrenheit 911-1/2” which sounds like a continuation of his classic 2004 inquiry, “Fahrenheit 911.” Just to give Dubya something to look forward to.

Carl Larsen is a regular contributor to The Augusta Free Press. Look for his At the Movies column on Mondays.

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