Michael Moore’s ‘invasion’ of other nations for their ideas is worth the trip

Film review

Michael Moore horrifies French public schoolchildren with his French and with his graphic depictions of typical American public school lunches in his latest film, “Where to Invade Next.”

Michael Moore’s “Where to Invade Next” is both familiar and unfamiliar territory. It contains Moore’s deadpan humor that had me laughing out loud many times (as well as a few jokes that don’t work quite as well), but at the same time it’s a new direction for Moore, whose approach apparently has mellowed a bit with age and whose tactic, at least in this film, is not to critique the United States so much (although there is plenty of well-deserved criticism of the U.S. in “Where to Invade Next”) but to compare aspects of it to the much more successful aspects of other nations.

These aspects include public education, health care, workers’ rights and benefits (including paid vacation time and paid family leave time — and yes, two-hour lunches), criminal justice (including the “war on drugs” and white-collar crime [which in the U.S. goes mostly unpunished]) and women’s rights.

In “Where to Invade Next” Moore travels to (in alphabetical order) Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Norway, Portugal, Slovenia and Tunisia, symbolically planting the U.S. flag in those nations in order to claim their good ideas, much how American colonizers planted the American flag to claim others’ land.

Ironically, we find that the United States actually was the inspiration for many of other nations’ good ideas; it’s that over the past several decades, as the American people have been sold out further and further to treasonous, corporate interests — and as we, the American people, collectively have just allowed this to happen — other nations have improved themselves to the point that now they kick our ass in the area of social welfare (“welfare” as in human well-being, not as in “gubmint handouts”) while the United States has become pathetic, sad and even despicable in how much it just allows its own people to struggle.

In “Where to Invade Next” Moore at least somewhat addresses the United States’ out-of-control military spending, but some graphic graphs, like these — 

— might have helped drive the point home.

A basic point that “Where to Invade Next” doesn’t make nearly enough is that the United States of America has the resources to keep every individual on its soil afloat, but that our corporately owned and controlled elected officials choose instead to squander our (ournot their) collective resources on the U.S. military, our No. 1 sacred cow. And we, the people, just allow them to fuck us over like this; we buy their fear-mongering bullshit that they must treasonously funnel our money to themselves (via the bloated-beyond-belief U.S. military) by spooking us, à la 1984, with ever-changing Bogeymen from overseas.

Indeed, in the last Democratic Party presidential debate, when asked about looking at federal spending, she-hawk Billary Clinton certainly didn’t propose to cut the military budget, and Bernie Sanders, as an apparent afterthought, dared only to go so far as to suggest that we look at the military budget; he did not dare to call for a substantial cut to it.

“Where to Invade Next” also is a refreshing paean to feminism, and I agree wholeheartedly that we need far more women in positions of power on the national and on the global stage, that the nation and the world would be a much better place if this were the case.

However, we can’t lump all women together, and “Where to Invade Next” pretty much does that. All women are not the same. Here in the United States, for instance, we have the true feminists, such as Elizabeth Warren, and we have the women who call themselves feminists but who act just like the stupid, selfish, short-sighted men who have been destroying this nation (and the world) for some decades now — women like Billary Clinton, who is as truly feminist as are the likes of Sarah Palin and Carly Fiorina.

I’m not saying that women may not be gargantuan assholes just like some men are (true equality, I suppose, would have to guarantee that “right”); I’m saying that these she-assholes don’t fit my own definition of feminism, which necessitates a concern for the collective (and, indeed, for the entire planet) and not just a concern primarily for oneself.

Otherwise, feminism is pointless and is no different from the malevolent spirit of the patriarchy that has been destroying the very planet for some time now. (What I have dubbed “the New Feminism” just adopts the worst aspects of the patriarchy and calls itself “feminism” because its perpetrators are female instead of male. The vast majority of the Billarybots, for instance, are New Feminists, not true feminists.)

I won’t regurgitate the unfolding of “Where to Invade Next,” since other reviews of it do that and since I think it would ruin it for you; I think that you’ll enjoy your travels with Michael Moore much more if I don’t tell you what to expect every step of the way.

But I will say that while “Where to Invade Next” in my book isn’t Moore’s best film (although it’s hard to compare it to his past films, since it largely is a departure from them), it’s worth taking the trip with him.

Every exposure to other nations’ culture we Americans should take advantage of. Indeed, as one woman who is interviewed by Moore puts it, we Americans are too busy claiming that We Are No. 1! to be able to realize that in many areas of human life, other nations actually do it much, much better than we do.

So “Where to Invade Next” already starts on a strong foundation of exposing Americans to other cultures, and with Moore’s film-making talents, that’s an added layer of worth.

My grade: B+

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