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Capitalism wins


By Nathan Dixon




Michael Moore bemoans the rise of Ronald Reagan while splicing together clips of the Gipper’s commercials and movies. Moore rhetorically asks what will become of unions and cuts to a clip of Reagan showing off his revolver in a western film.

Then Moore mentions the ill-fated Equal Rights Amendment. He cuts to a movie clip of Reagan slapping a woman in the face.

These are the moments to be cherished in Moore’s latest documentary, “Capitalism: A Love Story.” As the title implies, Moore has decided to take on the whole system of capitalism. But he does so rather feebly. Listening to Moore talk in circles about the destruction of the middle class and the greed of Wall Street, it would have been nice if he had thrown in more goofy moments.

The first Moore film I saw was “Fahrenheit 9/11.” I remember liking it, but I also remember liking the 9/11 conspiracy documentary “Loose Change.” Barely a year into high school, I found revolutionary ideas fascinating and was less than worried about how much they made sense.

Moore seems similarly unconcerned with making sense these days. He jumps from interviews with leftist priests to a segment on a privatized juvenile detention center trying to make his case. He even asks Wallace Shawn, an actor famous for his role in the Princess Bride, to share his thoughts on economics.

Along the way Moore gets some funny reactions from security guards, and it is amusing that Rep. Baron Hill, D-9th District, which includes IU, bothered to talk to Moore for the film. 

But the serious parts of the movie just aren’t compelling.

Moore seems to think modern finance is a scam the rich use to steal money from other people. When he talks about the banking bail-out he makes it seem like the financial crisis was engineered so the financial industry could get its hands on tax-payer cash. He shows viewers a world in which capitalism is truly a zero-sum game. But that isn’t the real world. 

The details Moore leaves out are pretty important. He talks about the health care and pension his father got while working for General Motors, but fails to mention that it was easy to offer those benefits before their true costs were clear. He damns Reagan as being responsible for all sorts of trends including stagnating wages and increasing consumer debt. No president has had that much influence over the economy.

Moore is most off-base when he suggests that a revolution is brewing. There is a big focus on strikers at a Chicago glass factory. The film also pulls its toughest emotional punches with plenty of foreclosure protests. But it is hard to buy that these struggles are the lead-up to a big revolt.

“Capitalism: A Love Story” has raked in a little less than $5 million so far. Compare that to the “Fahrenheit 9/11” opening, and Moore seems like a relic from the Bush era.
His glory days might be done.

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