Saturday, July 14, 2007


UP FRONT News July 3, 2007
Published by Tom Weiss
Editorial Advisor: Willard Whittingham
“The paper that can’t be bought and can’t be sold.”

Michael Moore inevitably gets very strong reactions to his documentaries about vices such as violence and greed. I haven’t yet seen “Sicko” but several media and more personal accounts to me suggest that the film, while trying to make Castro’s Cuba look good, pretty much accuses the U.S. health care industry of capital offenses. As far as I am concerned, with respect to the U.S. Mr. Moore is right. People in need of health care suffer and die in the U.S. as a direct result of insurance company and provider greed. Health care is a human right and, since it is survival related, should never denied to anyone for lack of ability to pay. As far as I am aware, members of the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives have taxpayer-financed health insurance that covers everything. The same principle should apply to everyone else.

I hope, however, that perhaps Mr. Moore will do a documentary on the entertainment industry, perhaps focusing on film. While the health industry goes to great public relations and political lengths to depict itself as compassionate while risking people’s lives to further enrich itself, the film industry is replete with actors ands actresses making obscene amounts of money often portraying common folk and human rights heroes. How vicarious can one get? For an awful lot of money Charlize Theron depicts an exploited working class woman up north and then, for even more money, she gets paid to wear royalty priced jewelry at elite fashion conscious events for a diamond magnate. (That kind of thing by the way is an example of what writer Ted Rourke refers to as the Fashion Industrial Complex, see Angelina Jolie is one of the highest paid actresses in the world meaning that she gets in the neighborhood of $20 million for a movie. The image, however, is of a bleeding heart who (after claiming she would never, ever do such a thing ran off with Brad Pitt) rescues selected African children from poverty, an enterprise already made famous by Madonna. Considering the totally unjustifiable pay rates for movie stars (it does take talent to act well; it also takes talent to teach well and nursing is a very hard job) Jolie, like Madonna, is a very, very, very material girl.

The entertainment industry as a whole is among the most conspicuous and yet accepted perpetrators of greed there is. And a lot of the greediest claim to be Christians (although role model Madonna reportedly swears by Kabbalah). Jesus, however, is reported as suggesting that a rich person has no more likelihood of bigger reward than a camel does in seeking to get through the eye of a needle. The quotation about the love of money being the roots of evil is also attributed to Him.

While I am honestly happy for the children selected by Ms. Jolie and Madonna for adoption, it is also a fact that megastar salaries for movie stars and athletes ($27 million a year for Alex Rodriguez for a part-time job?) could feed and house a great many starving people. Mr. Moore might take a look at the entire bloated film industry, and suggest a massive drop in star salaries. Such a documentary might lead to a movement to democratize movie admission prices. He could call it “Flicko.”
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