Category: Archive

Moore’s millions

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

In “Roger and Me,” “Bowling for Columbine” and “Fahrenheit 9/11,” the American satirist and documentary director — who traces his family roots to Cork, Tipperary and Waterford – has taken on the U.S. automotive and gun industries, as well as the Bush administration. With his new movie, “Sicko,” Moore exposes the ills of the U.S. healthcare system, particularly how insurance and pharmaceutical companies get rich while American patients fight to get proper treatment and doctors battle to get reimbursed for services rendered.
Although the film has been earning glowing reviews and praise for addressing a universal problem since it debuted at the Cannes Film Festival last month, a handful of conservative media outlets are still dismissing Moore as a liberal firebrand and propagandist and arguing that “Sicko” oversimplifies the problem and glamorizes the socialized healthcare systems of nations like Canada or Great Britain.
“Most Americans – conservatives and liberals – will say those 9 million children who go uninsured in this country… have a right to see a doctor and not have to worry about paying for it. I think I find agreement on that across the entire political spectrum, so why do those few remaining voices in support of the war, in support of Mr. Bush, continue to attack me?” Moore asked reporters in New York recently.
“They would attack me if I opened up a factory that produced American flags and I spent my days promoting the sale,” he replied. “If I didn’t exist, they would have to invent me because what else would they do on their talk radio and cable news? But the right-wing media already sound like dinosaurs and I think their days are numbered in terms of how the American people are responding to them. I’ve read a lot of reviews of this movie and there is literally like one bad review of this movie – (the New York Post’s.) I mean, they must feel awfully lonely on this and I look at them and think, ‘Will I ever catch a break with these people?'”
Asked if that is important to him, the 53-year-old Michigan native confessed: “Is it important that I catch a break from them? I’m just like you. I want people to like me.”
That said, the Oscar-winning filmmaker pointed to recent polls that show many people in this country have come over to his way of thinking in the years since he made his notorious appearance at the 2003 Academy Awards ceremony.
“Seventy percent of the country now agrees with me and I agree with them. Seventy percent of the country doesn’t support Mr. Bush; 70 percent is against the war. I am actually in the mainstream majority, which is a little weird, but that’s where I sit now; I don’t sit out on the edge,” he observed, noting he thinks of his films as the entertaining, big-screen version of a newspaper op-ed page.
“Four plus years ago, I was booed off the Oscar stage, for, in the fifth day of the war daring to suggest that we were being led to war for fictitious reasons. People did not want to hear that at the time, I understand that,” he conceded.
While “Sicko” is widely regarded as his least politically partisan work, Moore admitted he did not attempt to present a balanced view of the system by interviewing those representing the other side of the story, stating he wanted to instead offer a platform to those who don’t often get to voice their concerns.
“I believe the mainstream media have done such an excellent job letting the insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies have their say,” he contended. “First of all, they advertise on the news. Many times during the year, you can open up one of our news weeklies and see a 12-page advertising section sponsored by a pharmaceutical company. You can turn on your local news all across America just about any night and hear these words, ‘Tonight’s health report is brought to you by blankety blank pharmaceutical company…’ and the story of the pharmaceutical company and the health insurance company is told. My film acts as a balance. I exist to provide balance and I tell you, there isn’t much balance because they are on every day, all day. My film is two hours. If, for two hours, during this entire year, people are exposed to the other side of the story, isn’t that OK? It’s amazing how people go after me, though, saying: ‘You’re biased. You only show one side.’ Well, yeah, I have a bias on behalf of the little guy who doesn’t have a say.”
Moore said he was compelled to make a film about the U.S. healthcare system after hearing 18,000 Americans die each year because they have no insurance. Equally alarming were the disturbing tales the filmmaker gathered about people who are insured and still have trouble getting the care they need.
“When I asked for people to send me their stories over the Internet – while I got a lot of stories from people who didn’t have insurance and what they’ve been through — the majority of the stories were from people who had health insurance and the horror stories, the things they had to go through, thinking they were fully covered. ‘I got benefits on this job.’ How many times do people say that if you have that kind of job? Wait until you get a severe illness. Wait until something happens and watch what the company does to try and not pay the bill because they can’t make profits if they pay all these bills,” Moore warned.
“Sicko” opens in theaters Friday.

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