Michael Moore’s “Capitalism: A Love Story”

Warning: This blog post is an opinion piece by Greg Slepak (while he searches for an appropriate medium), and has nothing to do with Tao Effect news.

This weekend I saw Michael Moore’s latest film Capitalism: A Love Story. Like most of his films, this one should come with a disclaimer: for the duration of the film you’ll be looking at the world through the eyes of Michael Moore and those who reflect his views. Don’t expect to see or hear any conflicting views or arguments.

For those that hate Moore’s films, there’s plenty in the film to nit-pick about. There’s a scene where he does his best to convince you that all Christian priests hate Capitalism and consider it an evil. Some have argued that he’s misusing the word “capitalism” altogether and should instead say “corporatism”. He also tends to group various corporate entities into a single-group. AIG, Citibank, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, etc. All of these are placed in the group of “evil rich people bent on screwing over the lower-classes while having cocktail parties on corporate yachts.” In some cases, there is actual truth to that notion, but of course for those looking to put down Michael and nit-pick, he leaves plenty of room in his films to accommodate you.

However, despite the flaws, I enjoy watching Moore’s films precisely because of how rare their kind is.

It has been my general experience in life that many of the people that I encounter are perfectly satisfied to watch the latest action blockbuster out of hollywood, and when a movie like Capitalism rolls out they do two things: they pass up the ticket to see it for another action blockbuster, and then proceed to lambaste his films with a level of ignorance that far exceeds anything that I’ve heard Michael Moore say.

What further amazes me is how successful Moore has been at getting his films to play at major theaters. There are many many other films out there that do a much better job of espousing upon the insanities of our society and yet hardly ever make it into major theaters. Documentaries like Food Inc., Jesus Camp, The Century of Self (video link), Who Killed the Electric Car, and many others only find home to a handful of theaters across the country. These important films have been kicked out of mainstream society, to be replaced by the latest blow-em-up out of Hollywood that has sold out several times over.

That scenario never ceases to amaze me. How such a large amount of people, often the group that stands to benefit most from seeing movies like The Century of Self, who often live quite miserable lives because of their complete ignorance of their surroundings, can constantly, repeatedly purchase tickets to the same exact action script that Hollywood modifies slightly on a bi-monthly basis.

Ironically, it may in fact be because of the overly narrow viewpoint espoused in Capitalism, and its heavy use of emotional content, that he is able to get it distributed so widely. I say that’s better than nothing.

Further, while there are many imperfections in his films, they nevertheless tend to bring up worthy causes and viewpoints into the mainstream for discussion.

I also have to credit Capitalism for making me consider a thought that I hadn’t thought of before, namely,

Why do we allow corporate lobbyists and advisers at all?

It seems to me that just as we supposedly have the separation of church and state, we should institute the separation of the state from all other entities other than, of course, “the people.”

One thing that I’ve been astonished to learn from some of these films (Moore’s and others), is how incredibly entrenched major corporations are in the decision making of our government.

I considered the opposing viewpoint, that perhaps “because they represent the interests of a large amount of people and jobs” they should therefore have a strong say in policy making.

However, this is simply not true. Corporate interests do not include various idealized notions such as the right to a trial by jury, and even more idealized, yet worthy, concepts such as the rights to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Corporate interests are much simpler than that, they just want to “make a lot of money.”

Worse, they have demonstrated unequivocally that the way they’ll go about getting this money will often be by screwing over their workers, and quite often, their customers as well.

So, it seems to me that such entities should have no place whatsoever in any policy making that affects the lives of people outside of their corporation (and in some cases even inside of their corporation). Their advice is usually, simply put: bad. And in the rare instances where it’s not, we certainly did not need them for it. Instead of dictating policy to our representatives, they can call in like the rest of us. Respected scientists, nutritionists, farmers and various other in-field experts make good advisers to the FDA and USDA, not the board members of Kellogg’s and Monsanto.

Government, people often forget, should be owned by the people to serve the interests of the people. When corporations get in the picture, the people are no longer represented, instead the interests of a very small minority is represented, usually at the expense of all the others.

This is what has happened to our government. Although this situation is not anything new, it’s nevertheless messed up and it’s certainly worth changing.

A good way to upset the status quo is simply through the spread of information and the systematic removal of ignorance. Michael Moore’s Capitalism: A Love Story, though certainly flawed, helps to serve this purpose by bringing some of these issues to the forefront of America’s consciousness, and for that reason, I recommend you see it.

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