Romi Reviews – Capitalism: A love story

6 Apr

The communist world is fallin apart/
the capitalists are just breakin hearts/
money is the reason to be.

As the opening credits begin to roll, Iggy Pop’s anti-capitalist anthem, Louie Louie plays sardonically alongside footage from robberies of American homes and businesses. And so begins Michael Moore’s latest documentary on the plight of middle-class America.

Similar in theme to previous Moore films such as Roger & Me (1989) and Sicko (2007), Capitalism: A love Story follows the desperate plea of, forgive me for using a Palinism, Joe Six-Pack, in his fight against the “man”. More specifically, the writer-director looks to find out how the rich have become so rich, while the poor are trying hard, and often unsuccessfully to hold on to the little that they have.

In Moore’s mind, Wall Street is filled with greedy criminals; reverse Robin Hoods, who steal from the poor to give to the rich. In fact, at multiple times during the film, he half-jokingly attempts to enter corporate offices to conduct citizen arrests on company executives for crimes against the working class.

Successfully, Moore uncovers the shocking truths of a capitalist nation. From companies gathering “dead peasant insurance” to unjustly profit from employee deaths to the unliveable salaries of workers like airline pilots whose starting annual salaries are below $20,000 often forcing them to collect food stamps, he brings light to the darkest corners of the free market system.

Though his content is always eyebrow-raising, Moore’s cinematic style stays consistent almost to the point of redundancy. His mix of archival and anecdotal clips has, for better or for worse, become his trademark.

Near the beginning of the film Moore throws in an odd mix of footage bastardization—mixing an Encyclopaedia Britannica film on ancient Rome with clips from UFC fights and Guantanamo bay in an attempt to make the usual snarky comment on the capitalist regime. Though slightly amusing, the edited piece is as confusing as it sounds.

The video jumble is followed by a series of American slices of life, to tug at our heartstrings. He specifically focuses on people who have been seriously screwed by the government. A family in Peoria Illinois, for example, shares their frustrations as they have been evicted from their heirloom of a property and are instructed to move out within 30 days.

To this effect, Moore narrates: “This is capitalism—a system of giving and taking, mostly taking. The only thing we didn’t know was when the revolt was going to begin.”

Similar to George Orwell’s protagonist in 1984, Moore is staging a proletariat revolution.

And this is where Moore does something he often fails to include in his documentaries—he suggests a plan of action.

Moore throws in examples of successful coupe d’états like a group of laid-off workers at a windows and doors company that gained media attention by locking themselves in their workplace thus influencing the Bank of America to compensate each worker $6,000. He even provided the socialist-style business models of a robotics and a bread making company as viable alternatives to the undemocratically run corporation.

Moore’s dedication to the working class is commendable but his painfully leftist argument has holes of its own. While we come to sympathize with families stricken with debt, how did they get to the state they are in? Are there times when the family members are at fault? Though the government is seen as an institution that takes and takes, when is it okay to do so? Moore is in need of a stronger link between cause and effect.

When one side is so strong, it reduces Capitalism’s merit as a solid investigative documentary. I’m sure Moore is well aware of where he lacks, preferring to sacrifice objectivity for the sake of entertainment.

If anyone is going to speak of the pitfalls of the regular American, it should be Michael Moore, a man born and raised working class from the once booming, now desolate town of Flint, Michigan—and he won’t let you forget it.

Though Moore has become the master reuser of the big guy versus little guy conundrum, he has at least found a formula that works for him.  I’m sure he’d agree that if it aint broke, and if it makes over $14 million in the box office, it don’t need fixing.


One Response to “Romi Reviews – Capitalism: A love story”

  1. Dylan Young April 6, 2010 at 6:29 pm #

    In this capitalistic vein I wish to drill for oil, or more so answers that hopefully can be romified for all to enjoy.

    As a year old graduate I find myself searching for work that is suppose to reflect the fact that I have a degree and worked hard for that giant tax receipt. In my search I have been met with an opportunity to get paid in the field of social work, (more or less), but keep hearing the booming sounds of the government who divides their pot amongst all the programs and services that are available to us all. They speak of money that has been spent in the wrong places and is given to executives who are not doing anything and also how programs and services are not being properly funded due to these extreme salaries.

    On the one side there is the working class who are simply trying to get a steady paycheck and on the other side is the parlimental shenanigans that speak in plentiful words and accusational tones. In all my thoughts and opinions I’m fully aware that I have a severe lack of understanding of the government but there seems to be two different fights on the same issue. One side is the union fighting for fair wages in the ever climbing expense of living while the government fights each other on where they should and should not spend money. Where do the two meet, if they really do at all or has this whole issue become a clusterbomb of everyone fighting each other from different corners just so they can say they, (the specific individual), were right?

    Please Rom a Lom, make this make sense.

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