Monday, June 25, 2007

Fat Sexy Man Make Funny, Poignant Movie

The other night I took the EXTREMELY nerdy step of going solo, with a ticket purchased in advance, to see the Chicago premiere of Michael Moore's new romantic comedy, Sicko. Though my rationalization of this moment was probably just a lame excuse to feed my biases, I felt that as somebody who works in healthcare, and will one of these days have a degree in public policy, I ought to know what the kids are talking about (sure enough, a patient I met at work asked me about it this morning).

The film delivered much of what I thought it would. First, especially because it was the premiere, I was confronted by a plethora of obnoxious liberals, many of whom predictably thought it appropriate to clap when good points were made (it was great during those random moments when so-so points were made, when that one guy started clapping, only to realize he had no back-up, abruptly stopping his applause. I love it when old people act like a little teenager backed into the corner by the bully who's telling them that drugs are cool, and then totally succumb to the peer pressure). Moore went over the top, squeezing the emotional juice out of every possible moment. He took quotes out of context, such as when he used some of the Nixon tapes to distort the fact that Nixon was actually interested in saving money on healthcare dollars, not necessarily in hopes of hurting the po' man. From what I know about HMO's, his portrayal of Kaiser Permanente as one of the A-grade villians in the healthcare game isn't necessarily accurate, as the Kaiser system is generally known to act like a microcosm of what a single-payer national health care system could look like.

Nevertheless, the guy makes some good points. The Cuba scenes, which seem to be the most controversial in the film, are really creatively made. Some of the people's stories are just awful to hear and see, too. What I found most interesting was his portrayals of other country's health care systems. Sure, the conservatives will jump ALL OVER Moore's love of the French, but when I see that Canadians are waiting an hour or less at the ER, the words "rationing care" start to sound like what we experience here in the land of Tom DeLay, not what's going on in other countries where people don't live in fear of getting sick. When I see a London doctor living in a fat London pad, driving a German-made automobile, I don't think about some sort of terrible brain drain that would afflict our medical schools if MD's aren't necessarily pulling upper 6- or low 7-figure salaries. It's a proven fact that we Americans spend more on health care than any other nation, yet we live shorter lives than people from all of these places that have free health care. Sure, blame McDonald's, because they're a big part of the problem, but doesn't our healthcare system deserve the most scrutiny?

By the way, there's NO FUCKING WAY we are getting nationalized health care any time soon.


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