In ‘Where to Invade Next’ Michael Moore “invades” other countries in order to take their ideas back to help improve the conditions of the United States. He tells people that he is stealing their ideas and plants the American flag in their offices, living rooms, and streets. In many cases, he finds that people in other countries got their ideas from America. These are ideas that people in authority has conditioned the American people to fear. A lot of the ideas Moore “steals” from other countries address issues that comedians like Jon Stewart, Bill Maher, Trevor Noah, Larry Wilmore, and John Oliver have been talking about on their shows for years. For years, political, religious, and business leaders have been trying to convince people that things like affordable education, affordable healthcare, living wages, and many other things that would improve the lives of everyone are not achievable goals (and that people are guilty of envying the wealthy or wanting something for nothing when they vote for these things.). Michael Moore tries to show that these things are possible.
The film starts with a series of familiar images that have divided facebook users along political lines for the past few years: primarily police brutality against unarmed black men. There are also Occupy Wall Street protests. The images are played against the ‘Inception’ theme. It’s pretty darn appropriated considering the leaders in this country (political, business, religious, and the media) have been convincing people that that austerity is the same thing as prosperity. At another point in the film, Moore shows the prisons in Norway and illustrates that they are for rehabilitation rather than revenge. Convicted felons are still treated like human beings and able to become productive members of society. Moore points about that their re-incarceration rate is 20% as opposed to America’s 80%. They also have a much lower murder rate. The prison guards at a maximum security prison made a video where they sing “We are the World.” Moore plays that over scenes of prison guards in the US mercilessly beating inmates. It makes the cycle of violence in America that much more severe.
Throughout shows how in France, children are provided with quality lunches and learn more healthy eating habits are so are able to learn more effectively. School children in Finland are taught to think more critically and to challenge their teachers rather than to practice for standardized tests and weighed down with homework. From personal experience, I retained more the knowledge from classes where we did a lot of projects and ‘original scholarship’ writing than I did in classes where we took a lot of tests. Moore also showed that tuition is free in countries like Slovenia and students aren’t sandbagged with debt. The education system is not saddled with demands from for profit countries in those nations. By paying a little more in taxes in those countries, individuals aren’t weighed down with student loans and medical bills.
‘Where to Invade Next’ is one of Moore’s more entertaining documentaries. Moore takes the view that things that once seemed impossible are possible. While he goes to mostly European countries, at one point, he goes to Tunisia. It is a mostly Muslim country that has succeeded to putting equal rights for women into its constitution. Moore points out that despite the fact that women have been fighting for it for decades, it hasn’t happened in the U.S. yet. He Also shows that in Germany, they study the Holocaust every day and have memorials everywhere so they do not forget the atrocities committed by their own government that was democratically elected. He suggested doing the same in America: have students really study some of the less desirable parts of American history like the genocide of the native population, slavery, and women being beaten and arrested for trying to vote. It’s remembering the past so not to repeat it. ‘Where to Invade Next’ is playing at the Neon this week.