Useless Musings on Snow, Ro-Sto’s Four-Oh, and “Sicko”

November 20, 2007 at 11:11 pm | Posted in America, Lowell, Movies | 10 Comments

rollingstone40.jpgHere in Lowell, it’s snowing for the first time this year.  And it’s lovely.  Big, fluffy, harmless flakes.  No real accumulation, just a light dusting.

A month from now, I’ll be whining.  Three months from now I’ll be losing my mind.  But today, I’m grateful to live in New England, where we experience all four seasons, for better or worse.

At some point in my early twenties, I got a year subscription to Rolling Stone.  And throughout the past decade and multiple address changes, they’ve continued to send me issues.  Despite the fact that I’ve never renewed my subscription or given them a dime.  That doesn’t strike me as a very solid business plan, but I’m grateful nonetheless.

During the last few years it seems Jann and the RS staff have been quite taken with themselves.  Every other issue is a glowing retrospective or celebration of some milestone. 

Most recently, there was the three Fortieth Anniversary issues, including this one and this one.  And there’s also been The Immortals issue, the Greatest Albums issue, and the Greatest Songs issue.  And the special 1,000th issue.  And a Greatest Guitarists issue.

While my inclination is to criticize their laziness in rehashing some of this stuff over and over again, I must admit I find it quite awesome.  The third fortieth anniversary issue in particular (which I couldn’t find online) has some wonderful interviews “on the future of America and the world, with the artists, scientists and leaders who helped shape our time.” 

Many of their usual subjects are included, like Bono and Bruce, but there’s interesting stuff from the likes of Tim Berners-Lee and Sam Harris, as well.  And I love the little “Inspiration” sidebar that accompanies some of the interviews.  Bill Clinton’s inspiration growing up, for instance, was Gary Cooper’s “High Noon” because “It wasn’t just some macho whoop-de-do – it was a man who saw all the implications of the world in which he lived and decided what he was bound to do and did it, even though he was terrified.”  The sidebar notes that Clinton was also inspired by mad hot poontang, for reasons that require no explanation. 

My point?  I don’t really have one.  Except that even with the endless nostalgia and the boring pop star feature stories (see: Efron, Zac), Rolling Stone continues to crank out satisfying elliptical machine reading that arrives in my mailbox every two weeks at a price that works for me.  So happy 40th, fellas!

sicko.jpgLess satisfying is Michael Moore’s Sicko, which I watched last night for the first time.  It’s hard for me to dislike Moore.  If for no other reason than my disliking him would make me more like other people who dislike him.  And I tend to strongly dislike those people.  So you can see my dilemma.

But I do feel uneasy after watching his movies.  I don’t understand why he has to be so dumb.

Under the new mandatory health care thingie here in Massachusetts, Lucy the Dog and bride will pay roughly $700 a month for “affordable” health insurance.  So I sympathize with Moore’s “the system is broken” thesis, which he proves to great effect in the first half of the movie.  The system is indeed broken – that’s a given – and it’s maddening.

However, equally maddening is the second half of “Sicko”.  In that portion, Moore makes his case that universal government-sponsored health care is the way to go, using Canada, France, and England as his prime examples. 

I am open to the possibility that universal government-sponsored care is the best alternative.  But this movie certainly did little to convince me of that point.  Watching “Sicko”, you’d think there’s absolutely NOTHING wrong with ANYTHING, much less health care, in Canada, England, and France.  The glowing treatment is just so laughably simplistic.  Am I really supposed to believe that life is oh-so hunky dory over there?  The government even does your laundry!  Give me a break.

The most ridiculous example comes when Moore attempts to find out if the taxes that pay for health care are bleeding the average French family dry.  He does this by visiting the house of one family.  Why this family was selected is never explained.  But they are apparently well off.  Nice apartment.  Nice souvenirs from their vacations.  Their biggest expense, they say, is vegtables and produce.  Conclusion?  Even with the cost of universal health care, life is free and easy in gay Paris!  Let les bon temps roulle!  Or whatever the saying is.

I have no clue what Moore was trying to prove with that scene.  Obviously one family does not make for a very significant sample size. 

Yet there are moments where Moore is so on point.  He’s a creative, well-intentioned, funny, mostly bright guy.  But goddamn, he seems so dumb sometimes.  I don’t understand why he can’t stay on message without veering off into preposterous, delusional, ineffective, one-sided tangents that fuel his enemies and diminish his greater point.  It’s a real weakness, and in the case of “Sicko”, a real disappointment.

All that being said, I still recommend you check it out anyway.  One for the Q



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  1. “I don’t understand why he can’t stay on message without veering off into preposterous, delusional, ineffective, one-sided tangents that fuel his enemies and diminish his greater point.”

    It’s because he’s more interested in producing propagandistic, polemical agitprop than a serious and informed look at a problem. I’m as sympathetic as anyone to his viewpoints – gun control, universal health care, making fun of Charlton Heston – but I wouldn’t watch a single minute of any of his “documentaries” because they only present one extremely canted viewpoint and plays fast and loose with the truth.

    P.S. The Allman Brothers still suck.

  2. spoken like a true brudnoy disciple!

  3. Perry Ellis is right and wrong — just like Brudnoy (pours out 40 oz) — about this. He’s right because he nailed the polemical agitprop angle on the head. He’s wrong because Bowling for Columbine was waaaay more thoughtful than Roger and Me and Farenheit 9/11, which was one of the worst movies I saw that year.

  4. I know so much more than any of you.

  5. yeah seriously, what the hell is a polemical agitprop? you guys are some real grade a nerds. all i know is i was like, is this 9/11 relief worker with the bad cough gonna show her cans or what? and then when she didn’t, i was like, ah man, this movie sucks. and then i watched dancing with the stars. that’s what real men do.

  6. I liked Bowling for Columbine up until the cartoon about American history, which was utterly bereft of a single historical truth. After that I refuse to watch anything by this guy. Why would I when I can go to Lucy’s for Dancing with the Stars?

  7. I still think Roger and Me was one of the best movies ever. And by the way, what the fuck is a polemical agitprop?

  8. […] Case For Pessimism November 22, 2007 at 1:50 am | In Uncategorized | As I continue to enjoy the third issue of Rolling Stone’s 40th anniversary, I’m amazed by how many of the interview subjects […]

  9. I like when the lady kills the rabbit in Roger and Me. Reminds me of our union drive.

  10. Union drive. More like union pedal.

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