Sicko and Me

Today some co-workers and I had a bit of a field trip to see href="http://www.michaelmoore.com/">Sicko. It was the first of
our summer Fridays so we took in a shockingly packed 4:20pm show. As
a documentary filmmaker, I think it is really important for us to
support one other by seeing movies in the theaters, where numbers
count. Though Michael Moore is HUGE and not really thinking about me
at all, he is still part of our extended doc family. I had to see
this film.

I walked into Sicko knowing virtually nothing. I was just really
happy that Moore was covering this issue. From personal experience I
know that health care SUCKS in the US. It was not until right before
my father passed away that I learned that he had been paying off a
huge medical bill that my mother has incurred when she went into a
psychiatric hospital many years after they had been separated. Though
they were separated, they never legally separated. They simply did
not live together. Her insurance only covered a few days at this
hospital but because she had a serious mental illness, well, a few
days was not going to cover it. So, she stayed longer. Because my
father still loved my mother very much, he just sucked it up and
chipped away at the bill because she was on disability and could not
pay it herself. This huge bill kept my father from owning an
apartment or buying a car. This debt was the one big expense of his
lifetime.

The powerful thing about Sicko is the way it generates conversation,
profound conversation. I just wrote all of that personal information
here because of the thoughts it brought to the forefront of my mind.
After viewing the film, we all stood outside of the theater and told
personal stories of our health care struggles.

Congratulations to Moore for making a really, really important film.
He is a great and important filmmaker. Like all great filmmakers,
when he cares about something, we all care. I hope this film
generates this level of discussion in the White House. The US
desperately needs universal health care!

That said, I liked Sicko but it did not have the emotional impact on
me that I had hoped. My main issue with the film was that, although
people's very personal stories were used to illustrate a larger point
-- that health care in the US is so bad that people go bankrupt and
worse, even die -- I never really got to know these people beyond the
terrible stories that they shared. Just hearing these terrible
stories back to back felt a bit manipulative to me. Part of the
manipulation stems from choices Moore made as a filmmaker. He
interviews one woman who has lost her baby daughter in a playground!
She goes through her photo album with kids all around. Was that
really necessary? Did we have to hear the sweeping violin music? It
just cheapened it all somehow.

And Moore just belabors points. I get it. Healthcare is better in
several other countries than this one. I get it. I did not have to
travel the world and hear multiple people say it several same times.
It just got old watching Moore pretend that he was shocked that
health care was free in Canada, England, France and Cuba. (Canada must
be paying Moore. His movies are like Canada commercials!)

Also, would it have killed Moore to make a 90-minute film instead of a
120-minute film? It is strange that the film is that long when you
think about the things the he left out. He did not interview doctors
in the US. He only interviewed wealthy people in France and England.
I find it hard to believe that universal health care and free college
education means that everyone is rich and goes on vacations. That is
a bit of an oversimplification.

I for one am all for free health care, free college education and
longer, paid maternity leaves. However, when Moore started to walk
the path of pitching socialism as a whole to his audience, he might
have lost a few people. I have a bigger problem with the health care
issue. I would love to get the other stuff but one thing at a time!
That's not what this film is about.

Still I think this is a film that many people should see. This film
could make a real impact. Universal health care in the US feels a bit
like the unicorn, a beautiful thing that cannot possibly be real. I
want so badly to be proven wrong.

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