virago & i trekked down to the fashion mall today to see sicko. (on the day it came out, no less, just like moveon asked us to... i guess we're good dirty hippies. the theatre was pretty full for a friday matinee.)
on our way in & out of the mall, we passed by the apple store and the long line of mac freaks waiting to get their iphones. in fact, on our way out we walked by at 6:30, shortly after the things went on sale, and saw the unusual spectacle of apple-philes applauding each other for being so fortunate as to buy their precious gadgets. that was a bit surreal (as was watching a young man try to use his old cellphone to take a photo of himself holding his new iphone. eventually a cop came over and took the photo for him. did i mention that a bunch of cops were circling around the apple store to ensure that the consumer frenzy went smoothly?)
anyway, sicko. what can i say about this powerful film? sicko is a damning portrait of the US health care system. the united states is the only western country in the world that does not have some kind of universal health care. moore starts out by collecting horror stories of people who've been underserved by their HMOs: the dark secret of our health care system is not the 50 million people who have no insurance (like me, currently), but that you can have what you think is good insurance only to have your livelihood destroyed by unexpected medical bills. the system is run by for-profit HMOs, and the way HMOs make a profit is by denying coverage. so it's not necessarily in your HMO's best interest to make you healthy: often the HMO makes more money by letting you die.
sicko compares our health care system to that of several other countries (canada, britain, france, and even cuba) and finds our system severely lacking. the contrast between the happy, healthy citizens of these other nations and the injured, bankrupt americans is startling to say the least. i found myself fantasizing about moving to one of those countries, any of them, just to have access to their medical facilities. (while i'm in fairly good health, my parents have a decent collection of health issues between them, and these issues hit virago even closer to home than they do me. incidentally, here is the website for info on emigrating to canada. toronto is great, and i've heard good things about vancouver as well.)
when i first saw fahrenheit 9/11 back in 2004, i thought it was great and really enjoyed it, but as an avid newsreader and blogger, i already knew most of the information in the film. not so for sicko. while i knew that every other western country had universal health care, i had no real grasp of what that's like. (just as the concept of paying for your health care is so alien to many of the europeans and canadians interviewed in the film.) for that reason, i think this could be the best michael moore film yet, and could have the greatest impact.
i also suspect that right-wingers and moore haters will have a harder time "debunking" sicko than they did fahrenheit 9/11. then again, i thought their attempts last time were laughable, so i'm sure some of them will make an effort, pathetic as it might be.
when the movie was over it elicited a hearty round of applause from the audience, which is always a bit odd when the filmmakers aren't, you know, around to hear the clapping. but there was at least one in the crowd who didn't enjoy it: a right-wing heckler, white and middle-aged in his "michael moore is fat" t-shirt from rightwingstuff.com. for the first 30 minutes or so, he would clap as loudly as possible whenever a right-winger appeared onscreen. eventually an usher came over and told him to STFU.
at dinner afterward, virago & i wondered what would possess a man to go to a movie he fully planned to hate (not expected to hate, as i expect the transformers movie to be garbage, but planned to hate, as in he wouldn't allow himself to enjoy it no matter what), just so he could be loud and try to ruin it for others. my opinion was that he was just an asshole.¶