Capitalism: A Love Story – It took me a while to get around to watching Michael Moore’s latest documentary, and as with most of them, I agreed with his main points while taking some issues with how he presented them. For instance, you rarely get statistics in a Moore picture. It’s pretty much all anecdotal evidence, and generally the worst situations he could get on film. While an effective technique in its own way, it’s not very scientific, you know? There are also the comedy bits with Moore harassing low-level employees, in this movie by going up to security guards and other bank workers and asking for the bailout money back. For that matter, as depressing as it is to see people evicted from their homes, a staple of Moore’s films, the guy who’s actually serving the eviction notice isn’t likely to be the CEO of the bank. Moore usually comes out in favor of the working man, so why bother people who are just doing their jobs, as crappy as those people’s employers might be? I’ve also noticed that, for all the depressing footage, he usually ends on a note of optimism. As Beth pointed out, Fahrenheit 9/11 suggested that the American public couldn’t get fooled again (using the famous clip of George W. Bush himself mangling the “fool me once” expression), and what happened after that? Yep, Bush was re-elected, this time without even a recount. I’m just not so sure that, however popular Moore’s movies and ideas might be with a certain crowd, they’re really doing much to initiate change.
On the plus side, I do think the film did a good job at demonstrating just how much American workers have been screwed over by big business, and how it’s gotten even worse in the past few decades. It’s an interesting point that, while people make such a big deal of the United States being a democracy, the workplace is typically a dictatorship. The movie gives us an example of one business that actually is democratically run, and while it was anecdotal and might not work on a larger scale, it was certainly a noble experiment. Moore also turned to his Catholic faith and pointed out how some priests aren’t too keen on capitalism as it’s practiced these days either. I’ve wondered before about how Americans used to refer to “godless communism,” presumably implying capitalism was godly. But what about how Jesus said you can’t serve both God and Mammon?
Anyway, Moore suggests that things have to come to a head soon, and that workers will get sick of being exploited and rise up against the system. Personally, I’m not so sure, especially considering how many people I hear from who aren’t rich and somehow think they will be someday. And I don’t think those who DO feel screwed over have any idea what to do. Striking has been effective at times, but even putting aside how many jobs are non-union in the first place, what’s to stop an employer from just hiring even more desperate people? It’s all very well to have principles, but they can’t substitute for food and shelter. And I don’t feel that Occupy Wall Street really DID occupy Wall Street. They just kind of hung out there, and everyone is used to seeing protestors in the streets by now. It’s not like they prevented Wall Street from functioning normally. While they were some quite funny bits in the movie, overall I found it quite depressing. In fairness to the film, though, most of that stuff had been depressing me anyway.