aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Saturday, May 19, 2007
It was indeed another gorgeous, summery morning on the French Riviera, but the real heat was indoors. There wasn’t a single empty seat inside the Grand Théâtre Lumière—which holds more than 2,000 people—for “Sicko,” and dozens of stragglers were locked out on the sidewalk. Moore’s screed against the outrageous state of American healthcare was received with uproarious affection, but one might argue that Cannes provided the softest possible crowd. An American left-wing populist, attacking America’s profit-motive, private-sector ideology before a roomful of international intellectuals, at least half of them Europeans. May I introduce a new phrase into the Franglais dictionary? C’était un slam-dunk.
“Sicko” does not display Moore at his most cinematically inventive or imaginative. It presents a TV-documentary-style parade of episodes, characters and settings, bouncing from various American cities to Canada, Britain, France and Cuba (and yes, don’t worry, we’ll get to that). Moore plays a far smaller personal role in this film, appearing only occasionally in his comic-relief role as the clueless buffoon who can’t seem to grasp that healthcare in all those other countries is free, or virtually so. When he’s eating dinner with a group of Americans living in Paris who begin to list all the things they can have as free or nearly free entitlements—not just healthcare but an emergency doctor who makes house calls; not just childcare but a part-time in-home nanny—Moore puts his hands over his ears and begins singing “La la la la la.” (If you have kids or any kind of chronic family health problems, your reactions might include weeping in despair, slitting your wrists or booking a one-way ticket.) [...]
Much of this is played as comedy; Moore corners a young Afro-British couple with a wiggling bundle in the hallway of a London hospital and says cheerfully, “So—how much they charge you for that baby?” But Moore is trying to push us beyond the universally shared idea that something must be done to the slightly more controversial idea that something has been done, and that all we have to do is appropriate it. Americans have of course been conditioned for generations to believe that socialized medicine is first of all a disaster in its own terms, and secondly, the pathway to totalitarianism.
His portrayal of the Canadian, British and French systems is undoubtedly simplistic , and several Canadian reporters took that up with him at the press conference—although all of them admitted they wouldn’t trade their system for ours. But Moore’s overall point is, I think, inarguable: Flawed as they may be, those systems are a hell of a lot more humane and civilized than anything we’ve got. (Life expectancy is significantly higher, and infant mortality lower, in all of those countries than the United States. Whatever outdated stereotypes you may hold, these days poor people in Britain are statistically healthier than rich people in America.)
A Fair(y) Use Tale (NOT a Disney movie)
A MUST SEE!
Bucknell prof Eric Faden has produced the most amazing video mashup I’ve ever seen: “A Fair(y) Use Tale” cuts together thousands of extremely short clips from dozens of Disney cartoons, lifting indivudal words and short phrases to spell out an articulate, funny, and thoroughly educational lesson on how copyright works. This is the most subversive and hilarious use of Disney material I’ve ever seen—and there’s even a really smart chapter about why Faden used Disney material to make his film. This should be required viewing in every K-12 classroom in the country.
Tristero tells us of the arrest of S.D. Republican Ted Klaudt on rape charges. He reviews the Bills Klaud had sponsored and suggests that, like the homo homophobes, prudish obsessives often turn out to be perverts:
The charges are revolting: He duped foster children in his care into letting him perform “exams” on them to see if they qualified as egg donors. [...] But this scandal brings up loads of questions, (like how he could live with himself as probably the most obvious). But the most puzzling of all is how he could persistently seek legislative office (and he tried for the Senate but failed) and not only that but go out of his way to sponsor this legislation, given his propensities.
And I think it may be fair to raise a more general question, whether an obsessive concern with regulating abortion and defining marriage has more than just a casual association with sexual perversion. By “obsessive concern,” I’m not talking about some decent schnook who’s been fed christianist propaganda,. I’m talking about someone who, like Klaudt, gets all proactive about it, deliberately trying to legislate morality, trying to build a career on it.
Via Amanda at Pandagon, “this story you can add to the pile of growing evidence of the linkage between creepy-uncle sexual perversion and proactive opposition to women’s rights.”
Yes, and marriage rights too.
SEE ALSO: My post on the sex panic, why we’re freaking out.
Evolution opponent at the National Association of State Boards of Education
The NYTimes reports that Kenneth Willard, a member of the Kansas Board of Education who voted to rewrite public school standards there in order to teach intelligent design is now the only member running as president-elect for the National Association of State Boards of Education:
“Some people are mindless about their attacks on anyone questioning anything Darwin might have said,” Mr. Willard said.
Talk about mindless!!!
There is no credible scientific challenge to the theory of evolution as an explanation for the complexity and diversity of life on earth. Courts have repeatedly ruled that creationism and intelligent design are religious doctrines, not scientific theories.
A possible alternative to Willard:
[Retired Cincinnati buinessman Sam] Schloemer, a Republican, said in a telephone interview that he had learned of Mr. Willard’s unopposed candidacy a few days before. He said he had no particular desire for the office, but added, “I would rather serve than see someone of his persuasion represent school boards across the country.” Mr. Willard, who is in his fourth year on the 16-member national board, said in a telephone interview yesterday that issues like the teaching of evolution were best left to the states.