July 05, 2007

Sicko Awakens the Sleeping Masses

I know I was primed to welcome Michael Moore's message that our health care system was broken and we needed to stop letting the "market" fix the problem because they had made a nightmare for so many Americans already. So the fact that I was moved by this film wasn't surprising. But I knew my sister who I dragged to see it with me (she works in the health insurance industry) was changed by it in surprising ways and she went in convinced that she would not like it at all. "I don't respect Michael Moore because he plays with the facts" was the way she put it. She came away believing we could and should have something better - not such a big stretch for someone who lives in San Francisco perhaps.

Via Avedon, I see that it isn't just our liberal coasts that are being affected by the message from Sicko, but even the deepest red areas are being radically transformed by it. Josh Tyler reviewed Sicko last month for the Dallas area and he noted that one of the more powerful reasons this movie makes the impression it does is because it about us and what we could face us if we get sick.

At first, he isn’t telling us anything we don’t already know. Anyone who’s spent any time dealing with insurance companies knows what a mess it is. You pay your premiums and then when you actually need them they go out of their way not to help you. They’re in the business of finding reasons not to spend money, and everyone knows it. What you may not know is just how far they’ll go. Having insurance doesn’t mean you’re protected, and the film covers both ends of the spectrum from people left to die because insurance companies refuse treatment, to people dropped from policies for bogus reasons, to an elderly couple driven to bankruptcy and made homeless by high deductibles. The film leaves no room for anyone to think it won’t happen to them. It will. It happens to everyone, just in varying degrees. When you walk out of Sicko, you’ll do it with the absolute certainty that if you ever encounter serious health trouble, you’re screwed.

This week, Josh went back to the see the movie with an audience made up of some of the last ardent Bush supporters left in the country. And he believes their reaction shows that Sicko is dynamite to the status quo.

Sicko started; the stereotypical Texas guy sat down behind me and never stopped talking. He talked through the entire movie… and I listened. The first ten to twenty minutes of the film he spent badmouthing Moore to his wife and snorting in disgust whenever MM went into one of his trademark monologues. But as the movie wore on his protestations became quieter, less enthusiastic. Somewhere along the way, maybe at the half way point, right before my ears, Sicko changed this man’s mind. By the forty-five minute mark, he, along with the rest of the audience were breaking into spontaneous applause. He stopped pooh-poohing the movie and started shouting out “hell yeah!” at the screen. It was as if the whole world had been flipped upside down. This is Texas, where people support the president and voting democratic is something only done by the terrorists. Michael Moore should be public enemy number one.

But even more surprising was how after the film, the audience, including the stereotypical Texas guy, found themselves trying to decide what they could do to fix the problem.

In all my thirty years on this earth, I have never ever seen any movie have this kind of unifying effect on people. It was like I was standing there, at the birth of a new political movement. Even after 9/11, there was never a reaction like this, at least not in Texas. If Sicko truly has this sort of power, then Michael Moore has done something beyond amazing. If it can change people, affect people like this in the conservative hotbed of Texas, then Sicko isn’t just a great movie, seeing it may be one of the most important things you do all year.

You owe it to yourself to go see this movie and drag along anyone you think is still convinced that the market will fix the health care industry or that mandating individuals to pay for their insurance will do anything to make this system work for us. And make sure they know when they've come out and are ready to act, to contact their congressmember and tell them to sponsor HR 676 (Medicare for all). It's time we make our government do one thing that works for us - and isn't just another scam to enrich the parasites feeding off our misfortune.

Posted by Mary at July 5, 2007 12:05 AM | Health/Medicine/Health Care | TrackBack(1) | Technorati links |