Where to Invade Next (Review)
After the film, my biggest regret was that—despite the selection of great seats—there was almost no one in the theater. And anyone who lived near me would have had to have driven 40 minutes to see it. Okay, it was a weekday evening, but my regret was that people weren’t watching this film because they were watching “Deadpool,” for example, instead. And I am among the guilty because I saw Deadpool first, though that film played much closer to home.
[pullquote align=”left” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Would you let convicted murderers live in a prison with few constraints? How about letting people use drugs when and where they like?[/pullquote]
Michael Moore presents ideas in a very effective way. Despite the often oversimplified and deliberately selective nature of his exhibition, he displays working social systems in (mostly) the developed world in order to, by comparison, elucidate flawed social practices here at home. In this film “Where to Invade Next,” he takes you from Northern Europe to the Mediterranean to display a series of national systems for labor, education, nutrition, prison, and gender equality that make our systems seem very problematic.
And they are.
Our work schedule, diet, gender and equality issues, and the US prison and judicial system all seem vastly inferior in comparison to some of the European models in place today. It was not merely an attempt to showcase the merits of socialism: the emphasis on the food, lifestyle, and compassionate treatment of prisoners and drug users were all presented as driven by cultural forces (I won’t go into it here, but I believe—along with the Pope–that more competitive economic systems generate a more autonomous, Darwinian, and dispassionate culture). As one articulate women put it (paraphrasing) “you have to think in terms of ‘we’ and not in terms of ‘me.’
Moore then “invades” by planting the US flag and claiming the idea to take back home for us—even though in some instances (as he points out) the idea was “ours” at one time in the past.
While the series of demonstrations have impact and should impart some national shame, the average viewer will question the cost of implementing similar programs in the US, or wonder if such programs could even survive the translation here. Would you let convicted murderers live in a prison with few constraints? How about letting people use drugs when and where they like?
One idea that came from Iceland mandates that women have at least 40% representation in key positions in government. I think that one would be a good place to start. And the film itself is just that: a chance to realize through his visits that our systems can be and need to be improved.
Moore did well with this: it might even be his best film.