The release of a new Michael Moore film more often than not guarantees two things:
Firstly, a whole tranche of new information for the ill-informed or overly-sheltered to suddenly become shocked and angered about.
Secondly, an excuse for those ‘clued up’ with regard to the minutiae of both domestic and international politics to rubbish Moore’s ideas as being overly simplistic, inaccurate and most of all, idealistic.
Michael Moore’s latest tub-thumping documentary is indeed idealistic.
The world needs more idealists; people that have an idea and stick by it; people that will only begin to consider flexing a little once they’ve debated their side of things to the point of being blue in the face, lying flat out on the floor with exhaustion.
Saying that, Moore’s getting on a bit these days and could probably do with giving any exasperated rants a wide berth for his own health’s sake.
But you get the point.
Where To Invade Next is probably Michael Moore’s most upbeat and fun film to date. A whirlwind tour around Europe (mostly) examining how ‘those continentals’ do things and just how jarringly different their approach is to the seemingly prehistoric notions and ideas of his own country of birth, the U.S.A.
No doubt it will be pulled apart and seen as an opportunity for self congratulation by the political point scorers, and exposed for how it simply isn’t realistic to expect The U.S to implement such measures.
T’was ever thus.
The unavoidable fact remains: You don’t start the process of changing the world from a point of compromise. Let’s start with an ideal, and let’s just see how close we all end up to that once we’ve fed, in this instance, Moore’s misty-eyed, simplistic optimism through life’s soul-sapping red tape and bureaucracy machine.
Moore’s European journey of discovery introduces him to any number of eye-opening revelations about the way that other countries live and operate, and it’s all in such stark contrast to the sorry state of affairs that seems to have become the norm in the land of opportunity. The land of the free.
It’s a good job that the film chooses to take a rather light-hearted tack, for there is much to be disgruntled about if you’re a U.S citizen – or indeed, to a lesser extent, a citizen of the increasingly Americanised United Kingdom, for that matter.
With each far more progressive ethos that Moore unveils along his merry way, hopping from country to country, it’s clear to see – if indeed we needed reminding – that the United States of America has badly lost its way over the years.
The Finnish demonstrate that shorter study hours can lead to far happier and better educated children.
The Norwegians reveal that a softly, softly approach to prisoner incarceration can avoid the cycle of repeat offending.
Tunisia and Iceland prove the value of greater female representation in positions of power.
Germany demonstrates that it is possible to have wealth and well-being at every so called class level within a well balanced society.
The Italians would not prioritise anything over a good quality of life for all, and the French are almost religious about food, nutrition and a more relaxed and relevant approach to sex education for their young.
Essentially, if you’re a U.S citizen, it’s a right old misery list. A series of embarrassing divulgements to have to accept for a proud nation of flag wavers and patriots.
But the most genuinely surprising revelation of all is saved until last. Each and every one of these philosophies and ideas that’s now championed by apparently more enlightened, progressive societies across Europe and beyond, have their origins back in the original United States Constitution.
So what the hell happened?
That’s strictly rhetorical. We don’t have the time.
Perhaps with a structure in place that puts a little less emphasis on ‘Me’ and more on ‘We’, and as Moore suggests, a good old trawl through America’s lost and found of good ideas, just maybe something resembling the original blueprint upon which the U.S.A was founded, might just be salvageable?
But I shan’t hold my breath. It all sounds far too idealistic to me…