So, I went to see Michael Moore’s new film earlier tonight and have to say that I was a tad let down; not because the film wasn’t entertaining or worthwhile, but more because it didn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know (although the shockingly-named “Dead Peasants” insurance scheme was a creepy revelation) and somewhat disappointing because, if anything, it wasn’t nearly harsh enough in its criticism of the perversely cruel system laughably described as “free market Capitalism” these days.
While occasionally funny — the scene of Bush delivering his dramatic plea for the initial three quarters of a trillion taxpayer dollars to bail out the banks whereby the White House backdrop gradually collapses around him and panicked citizens run back and forth shrieking in terror, or Moore wrapping the perimeter of the Wall Street Exchange in police crime tape before calling on executives with a bullhorn to surrender themselves for a citizen’s arrest, to cite a couple of examples — much of it is relentlessly tragic. People being forcibly being turned out of their homes by squads of heavily-armed police aggressively beating down their doors, and a family of working stiffs having to burn or otherwise dispose of their own possessions in exchange for a token payment from the very bank evicting them in order to clean up the property for re-sale before they vacate and move on to places unknown are disturbingly powerful indictments of a system gone horribly wrong through rampant greed and immoral avarice.
I’ll leave it to others to provide a more extensive critique of the film, but personally, I wish Moore had gone into more specific detail about the insane Ponzi scheme that led to the collapse and explained the dynamic of that to a wider audience. To a cetain extent he does allude to this by pointing out the absurdly complex nature of the mathematical formulas underpinning derivatives and credit default swaps (which he neatly illustrates by showing some proponents stammering and getting flustered while ineptly trying to explain how they actually work), but this aspect of the problem came up far short in my opinion. I guess this is one of the unfortunate drawbacks of trying to render an incredibly complex subject down into a popular format — it’s almost impossible to present a comprehensive and intellectually coherent (yet simultaneously entertaining) representation of the whole massively dysfunctional economic clusterfuck from start to finish in less than two hours.
For whatever it’s worth, the movie was quite well-attended and received an enthusiastic round of applause at the end. Also, what struck me as more than a little amusing was the “radical” nature of the audience at the suburban cineplex where I viewed it, that I would guess about being 60 in median age. Imagine my delight when the two white-haired ladies (both in their 70s by my estimate) ahead of me in line cheerfully said they wanted “two seniors for Capitalism” Heh.