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Esther Iverem

Esther Iverem

Posted: October 12, 2009 11:01 AM

Bombing Capitalism

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On a throwback vibe, you could say that Capitalism: A Love Story is the bomb.

By exploring the economic system of capitalism as an evil, Moore fires a salvo into the heart of America's social machine. Along the way, he explodes some serious myths: Myth #1: that the economic system of capitalism is the same as or tied to the political system of democracy. Myth #2: That to be an American is to be a capitalist and that to be anti-capitalist is to be anti-American. Myth #3: That people of color with bad credit, who bought houses that they couldn't afford, caused the financial meltdown in the United States. Myth #4: That mainly Blacks and Hispanics are losing their homes to foreclosure.

He also drops other bombshells, such as the internal Citigroup memo declaring that the United States is no longer a democracy but is, rather, a plutocracy, where the richest one percent of the country is in charge of the rest of us peasants, and where government has been warped in the past 30 years to serve the rich. Then there is the relatively unknown Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur from Ohio -- not one of the usual suspects on talking head news shows -- calling the bailout of Wall Street a financial coup d'etat and telling Americans who have lost their homes to become squatters in their homes and not leave. There is the laundry list of Washington insiders who received sweet V.I.P. mortgages from Countrywide, which was a leader in dispensing high-interest "sub prime" loans to homeowners. The explosions go on and on.

Moore's documentaries, exposing the smelly underbelly of American society, have always included poignancy, comedy, and a smart-assed attitude. In Capitalism: A Love Story, he ties together all that he has covered in the past, beginning with Roger and Me, a funky exploration of General Motors, released 20 year ago, followed by documentaries on America's gun culture, post-9/11 realities and the warped health care system.

His current exploration of ideology provides a convenient framework for Moore to again organize his attitudes toward the world and life. So we see those Chicago workers from Republic Windows and Doors staging the factory takeover that garnered international attention. We see, again, the shameful aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. We see, most poignantly, the national frustration that helped to elect a black man who promised change.

Moore is bold and he minces no words in his attack. He goes for broke, betting that he can bring the American public -- or at least a sizable gang -- to join him. Or he thinks that we will at least stop drinking the fantasy Kool-Aid that we, too, might make it into realm of the magical one percent.

His level of success in that effort will not change the fact that he has produced his documentary masterpiece.