Capitalism is a refresher course of what we have been through for the last year or so and how it possibly all began, and it wasn’t with Dick Cheney. Being a fan of Michael Moore’s work, I was excited to see his newest challenge, the economy. This is big, much bigger than the health care issue covered in “Sicko.” Some of these issues span the globe and the roots go far beyond where we thought they were planted.
Without giving too much away from the discoveries in the film, and staying off my soap box as much as possible, here’s Capitalism. The film has his standard touches to it, being narrated by Moore himself and throwing in his own humorous take on the terrible situation that is happening. He likes to use old videos from the 50’s showing everyone is happy and healthy and having a great time, while voicing over his own take on the American Dream as it is seen today. The opening titles are shown through security cameras of bank robbers in masks taking money, very symbolic of the very subject you about to be schooled on.
He takes us through a series of families and middle class people telling their stories of how the foreclosures have affected their lives and how it happened to them. He interviews a real estate agent who runs a company in Florida called Condo Vultures, who spends the next few minutes describing his clients as bottom-feeders and scum. I bet this wasn’t the best move for his business. Basically, he was sticking up for the people he is swiping homes from and turning a huge profit on.
Next, they move into Free Enterprise, the lovely words we were all taught in school and really think nothing of. He talks about the good ole days and isn’t afraid to show videos and pictures of when he grew up and how different it used to be. That his Dad had a paid off house before he was in Kindergarten and they had a new car every three years. Then he begins to show where it went terribly wrong. President Jimmy Carter made a speech about self indulgence and consumption and how we are no longer defined by what one does, but by what one owns. Man, isn’t that the truth.
He does a very humorous bit describing how Ronald Regan then came riding in on his horse as the cowboy who slaps women and advertises for radios and deodorant and how this is the man we need for President.
This is where it really starts getting interesting. We come to the present where he presents the Stock Market and all of the greed and underhanded ways of doing business. It’s just sickening how much we are blind to all of this. He interviews many people of congress and government and gets some really good info from them.
He makes some really great tie-ins for his other films, showing work from his first film, “Roger and Me” and bringing up the pharmaceutical companies just enough to get you thinking about “Sicko” again. You really start to see the passion that Moore has for the welfare of the country and how all of his films are almost a series of history.
I knew he wouldn’t be able to pass up the chance to make fun of Bush a few more times, since he only makes a movie every few years, the next one he makes would be irrelevant to include Bush. So, he shows Bush dancing and acting foolish and giving some speeches about Capitalism and the free market. All poignant to the story, yet entertaining as well.
One of the most shocking parts of the film that I have to talk about is when he is speaking of free enterprise and how it seems only a few are profiting from the wealth, he begins interviewing commercial airline pilots. I am shocked to discover that a pilot makes less money than the typical manager at a fast food restaurant! It becomes so clear why there have been so many crashes and accidents from pilots being drowsy all of the time. It’s because they land a plane and then continue on to their second job and still have to use food stamps! How sad is it that I feel like when I get off a plane now, that I should tip my pilots?
The story only gets better from there, he goes into insurance policies and corporate schemes and interviewing priests for their opinions of capitalism. I am so happy that someone is finally saying out loud what only a few of us have known for awhile now, that “Jesus got hijacked by Capitalism.” Thank you, Michael for talking about how people are being victimized by the use of the bible/God for the means of the rich. No one power should have the right to own God and claim that what they’re doing has been approved by Him. People were being duped into thinking that if they vote for this person, because they love Jesus, that some day, they too could be rich like them; ahem…Joe the Plummer. When in fact, they were just voting against themselves.
The story does come full circle, coming back to the families in the beginning and pulling on our heart strings. He makes funny assumptions that major loan companies are nothing but the modern day mafia, which seems pretty close when he lays it out.
He gives us hope that if we care enough, we can rise up against this greed and pull ourselves back together. He shows election night when Obama was announced and instantly, all of the feelings of hope came back to me. It felt great to relive that feeling of being inspired and doing what is right and feeling like the old ways of business were over. People used to strike and unionize and riot for their rights, but now, there has been so much fear injected into us that we just bend over for fear of losing something else. It is only when we have nothing left to lose, that we are willing to risk it all and usually for the greatest result.
Michael Moore hopes to do with “Capitalism” what “Sicko” did for health care. I don’t know that it will reach as many people simply for the uninterest in finance, but this film covers 99 percent of America. There is something for everyone in this film. For me, it was the lack of good health care and the staggering student loan bills that I will never be rid of. He does inspire people, and I’m sure that with time, some change can be made, but nothing can happen until we are educated in what is going on around us.
I give Capitalism 4 “If I want it all, I have to demand it” out of 5.