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The West Wing
Documentary filmmaker Michael Moore sets out to uncover the truth behind the current economic crisis with interviews from Wall Street and government insiders.
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You love him, you hate (probably mostly you hate him), yes Michael Moore is back to tackle his favorite target of all time—the root of all evil that men call Capitalism.
Moore's made no secret of his problems with capitalism, or as he describes it, modern capitalism. It's insatiable greed, willing to throw anything and everything away in the quest for short term profits. In Moore's eyes, all the ills of America can be traced to capitalisms doorstep. And, typically with Moore's particular rationale, there is some truth to his point-of-view, but insists on covering it up by taking things to extremes.
Yes, the quest for profits does lead to lay offs, to increased costs of medical care and a fight against public insurance in America, to pay toilets on airplanes (that one's not in the movie, but you get my drift).
The thing is, Moore insists on reducing everything to a Manichean dichotomy. There is only us and them, and they are the ones responsible for our problems. He may have been the only person in America dancing in the street when Lehman Brothers fell. Finally, they, they would know it feels to be laid off, to lose everything.
But it ignores simple truths like the fact that Wall Street is made up of people just like Main Street, it's not some sort of inscrutable, indivisible thing. He wants to bring power back to the people, but he seems only willing to consider one side as 'people.'
This is all forgivable in light entertainment but not if you're trying for serious food for thought and Moore can't ever seem to make up his mind which he's trying to do. He wants to take on serious topics, but he doesn't want to take them seriously.The thing is, it's not hard to make douche bags look like douche bags. You just have to sit back and let them do their thing, so to speak. It's questionable how informative that sort of thing is for the public. Maybe he's given up informing anyone a long time ago, preferring instead to gall the public into action, but for the most part it seems like picking on easy targets.
On the other hand, it is extremely hard to feel any sort sympathy for his targets when they insist on acting like, well, douche bags. Performing such wonderfully low-moral acts as taking out secret insurance policies on their employees and including the actual results in the annual profit projections. If that weren't heinous enough, they then refer to the practice as 'Dead Peasant' profits.
That continues to be the most frustrating part of Moore's particular brand of propaganda. He definitely has a point. Things are bad for middle and lower class America, and corporate America has done a lot to make that so.
But that's as far as he will go. There's only ever one culprit in Moore's mind, and that single-mindedness turns everything he touches into something of a conspiracy theory. The Troubled Asset Relief Program was a grand larceny writ really, really large (probably the only thing he's ever agreed with the Republican Party about), created at the behest, if not the actual planning of the Wall Street titans who secretly run everything. There's no such thing as greed or stupidity or negligence; there can only be fraud.
He grabs dribs and drabs from everywhere, things that have nothing to do with the point he's actually making--like the collapse of government response to Hurricane Katrina--and claims it's all connected.
A lot of the old Michael Moore is still clear and obvious in "Capitalism." His feeling for the little guy, his genuine belief in everyone pulling together (except, perhaps, for them), his feel for a good public stunt like trying to arrest the heads of the Wall Street banks that took TARP funds.
But he's lost a little something. The social zeal of his best work has been replaced with the hint of fanaticism that peeked around the corners of "Fahrenheit 9/11." He's got a point, but it's muddled with ideology, the exact same problem that afflicts so many of his foes. It makes it impossible for him to acknowledge anything that doesn't fit into his world-view. But worst of all, it threatens to make him irrelevant.