Tonight I needed a distraction, so I went to the movies. Tonight, I needed a guilty pleasure, so I went to a Michael Moore film.
I was one of eight people in the theatre for tonight’s 9:10 showing of Where to Invade Next, the latest in Michael Moore’s catalogue of cheeky documentaries about our southern neighbour’s flaws, foibles, and failures.
It took all of 30 seconds for Moore to bring a sheepish grin to my face. Moore wasn’t going to pull any punches and there was no chance that the audience was going to miss his point. Over the next two hours, Moore trotted out examples of progressive policy-making from countries across Europe: gourmet school meals in France, paid vacation and maternity leave in Italy, the pro-play anti-homework Finish school system, worker’s rights and admission of historical wrongs in Germany, women’s rights in Tunisia and Iceland, free tuition in Slovenia, restorative and rehabilitation based prisons in Norway, and decriminalization of drugs in Portugal.
The cynical (critical?) part of my mind kept reminding me to question Moore’s one-sided narrative and to be skeptical of the rosy pictures that he was painting. Yet, despite a healthy dose of skepticism, I couldn’t help but admit that I believed in everything in the movie.
I walked out of the theatre with a wry grin on my face because I knew that I was buying Moore’s arguments without questioning their prices. I’d chuckled, rolled my eyes a couple of times, and sighed out loud at a few sledgehammer-like arguments, but I hadn’t disagreed with the French, the Finish, the Italians, the Portuguese, the Norwegians, the Germans, the Icelandic, the Tunisians, or the Slovenians. It had been a while since I’d permitted myself to be so completely wooed by a set of ideas; it was kind of fun.
None of this means that I’m going to stop being critical or that I’m going to start judging people who think that the ideas espoused in this movie are nothing but ridiculous socialist (communist?) ideals. However, it reminded me that it’s okay, every now and then, to admit that you think that something is a good idea.