Amy Gottlieb, MA, LMFT
Michael Moore will Move You
Yes, THAT Michael Moore. The brilliant, irreverent, sloppy, academy award winning, in-your-face documentarian Michael Moore, had me moved to tears when I saw his latest powerhouse film, Where To Invade Next. If you haven’t seen it yet, make sure not to miss this one. As most of you know, Michael Moore has spent his life being a champion for humanity. And while controversial, the awards he has won all over the world speak volumes about his dedication to improve life for Americans.
In one of Moore’s early documentaries, Roger and Me, we learn about the thousands of jobs lost when due to corporate greed an entire General Motors plant is closed down in Flint, MI, leaving thousands destitute. In another of his films, Fahrenheit 9/11, Moore lays out the huge amount of evidence that 9/11 could have been prevented, but due to the incredible mishandling of intelligence, from a government that was more concerned about pumping up the president and his controversial agenda, no-one paid attention. Bowling for Columbine deals with our cultural obsession with guns and the obscene number of violent deaths caused daily due to the overwhelming power of the NRA lobby. And these are just 3 of his better known documentaries. Michael Moore has spent his entire adult life exposing it all.
And now we have Where To Invade Next. I promise you this movie will have an impact on you. I’m tempted to say I will reimburse you the cost of your movie ticket if I am wrong, but that could get me into trouble.
When I first saw the title, I assumed this would be a scathing indictment of the US military involvement in regions of the world where our government’s motives are questionable at best, and we inevitably cause more harm than accomplish anything productive. This is not the case. I don’t think describing what the film is about requires a spoiler alert; if anything, it may convince you to go see it.
Essentially, Moore “invades”, as in visits, a number of countries, where instead of imposing our U.S. values on the people in each location (as is the American way), he goes to learn what he can bring back from each place to strengthen our country.
Through rich storytelling and interviews, we learn about how healthfully France feeds its schoolchildren, how Norway rehabilitates prisoners, how Italy respects and rewards its workforce, and how women are highly respected and given major roles to govern in Iceland.
It’s remarkable how humane, how sane, how kind, and how sensible all of these programs abroad are. I sat in the theatre and sadly reflected that our own federal, state, and city governments rarely put human dignity and quality of life before profit and exploitation.
For example, it was beyond fascinating to see a criminal justice system where rehabilitation, not revenge is the goal. When people working in a prison in Norway see video footage of our wardens and guards savagely beating American inmates, they recoil in horror. “This is how you help the most troubled members of your society feel better about themselves? Those downtrodden individuals, who themselves grew up with societal violence and abuse which play a huge part in their criminal behavior?” These questions make sense. And I squirmed in my seat, because I felt horribly sad and ashamed about the widespread brutality we witness and hear about on a daily basis in the U.S.
The theme we hear over and over from Moore’s interviews in other countries is of regular people feeling respected in society by all facets of management and government. People expressed over and over again that they identify as important members of their workplaces and communities. In the countries he “invades” in his current documentary, Moore examines how excellent health care, good education, stellar worker benefits, women’s equality, and humane treatment of all people are paramount, Moore makes it as clear as day what we are lacking in our society. I was deeply moved.