Part of the venom, I believe, against filmmaker Michael Moore comes from his role as a social soothsayer: He possesses an innate ability to see the cards presented by government and corporations, read into them and predict the future. From Roger and Me to Sicko, Moore's documentaries serve as warnings and, when they come true (which they always do), the only thing he can really offer is an 'I told ya so.â?� People, especially Americans, tend to hate that. But that doesn't mean he's not right ' plenty have tried but no one has yet won a lawsuit against the guy, because it's not defamation if it's true, no matter what Val Demings' lawyer claims ' it just means he has a timing problem.
With Capitalism: A Love Story, however, Moore finds himself in the position of pounding home a message that almost everyone already seems to be on board with. I can check the news headlines right now and find a million stories that back up Moore's claims. Here's one: A Bank of America in South Carolina removed American flags someone placed on its property ' which, come to think of it, could serve as the plot of this film.
In a nutshell, Moore argues that what Franklin D. Roosevelt came so close to ' the reshaping of America as a true home of the free ' was hijacked by our thirst for imaginary riches. Then along came Ronald Reagan to install Wall Street in the White House, a practice continued by the next four presidents. (Yes, even Obama's Treasury Department is a 'Goldman government,â?� as someone in the film calls the people in charge of our money.) But rampant capitalism has driven us into the ground and we're not going to take it anymore.
That last part is what makes Capitalism: A Love Story a film for everyone in the economic bottom 95 percent. Because Moore is dealing with a subject on which he has little new to add (though what he does have, like a secret memo from Citibank celebrating the idea that America is no longer a democracy but a 'plutocracy,â?� is pretty killer) and he has the majority on his side for once, he returns to his Roger roots as a working-class hero.
He shows us minor revolts like sit-ins, a sheriff's law-breaking decision to forbid further home foreclosures, and our country's collective heroic moment in protest of the bank bailout, that add up to something bigger and truly American. We the people are the power players once again. We've caught on, says the film, and we're finally doing something about it. If we don't, be sure that Michael Moore will be there to call us on it.
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