- The Washington Times - Monday, May 21, 2007

Who didn’t see this coming? Michael Moore screened his “Sicko” attack on the health-care industry at Cannes, and the A-list critics are ready to lap it up.

Slate.com’s Doree Shafrir rounds up the early buzz thus:

Michael Moore’s new documentary—an indictment of the American health-care industry—screened to an approving audience at Cannes over the weekend, but not before an unauthorized trip Moore made to Cuba during filming prompted a stateside controversy and an investigation by the Treasury Department. In their Cannes Journal, the New York Times’ Manohla Dargis and A.O. Scott praise the movie, noting that “while Mr. Moore remains a radical partisan, he has learned how to sell his argument with a softer touch. He’s still the P.T. Barnum of activist cinema, but he no longer runs the entire circus directly from the spotlight.” Entertainment Weekly’s Lisa Schwarzbaum agrees, remarking, “[T]here’s a certain robust clarity of political activism in this latest salvo from media provocateur Michael Moore that marks a new maturity.” The Associated Press describes Sicko as a film about “ordinary Americans telling heart-wrenching stories of being refused vital treatment,” while the Huffington Post calls it “a rejoinder for those who think we can fix the soulless monster by tinkering with an unconscionable system that puts us further in thrall to those who created the crisis.”

This follows Jeffrey Kluger’s softball interview with Moore for Time magazine, in which Kluger asks Moore if he’s picked an “easy target,” since, “after all, you can’t find a whole lot of people who are happy with their HMO.”

Right away, media types are granting Moore all kinds of substantive ground without ever pausing to evaluate things like, you know, facts. Actually, in his review of “Fahrenheit 9/11,” the New York Times’ A.O. Scott said, “Mr. Moore is often impolite, rarely subtle and occasionally unwise. He can be obnoxious, tendentious and maddeningly self-contradictory. He can drive even his most ardent admirers crazy. He is a credit to the

republic.”

So there you have it: Moore is all those things, and yet a “credit to the republic.” Under these extremely hospitable circumstances, how can Moore, in any sense, ever be “wrong” about anything, so long as he is sentimentally on the “right” side of whatever topic he’s addressing?

It’s no wonder, then, that it’s left to the so-called wingnut media to debunk Moore, when mainstream critics refuse to appraise his films qua films and, instead, embrace them as organs of acceptable agitprop?

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