/ Reviews

Where To Invade Next: America can learn from other countries

Setting aside political biases to look closer into Moore's ideas of respect and harmony, we can find Where To Invade Next one of the most eye-opening experiences to people unaware of the status quo in America.

Michael Moore has been building up his status of an innovative documentary filmmaker since the debut of Roger & Me, America’s highest grossing documentary that tackled the issue of General Motors’ employment cutback in 1989 and its negative influence on the city of Flint, Michigan. The titular Roger referred to GM CEO Roger Smith, who Moore tried to set up at least a face-to-face conversation.

With the film’s critical acclaim, this working-class-rooted man worked through various occupations: journalist (at Mother Jones), TV producer (TV Nation) and author (1994 best-selling Downsize This: Random Threats from an Unarmed American). However, he still mainly gathered attention as a radical left-wing activist/filmmaker by notable achievements like The Academy Awards for Best Documentary Feature in 2003 (Bowling for Columbine) and Cannes’ Palm d’Or in 2004 (Fahrenheit 9/11).

With a solid yet contentious stand on capitalism, corrupted corporate greed, gun culture, healthcare, and war-waging policies under George W. Bush’s term, Michael Moore channeled critical messages and insightful approaches into his works, presenting scary woes at the heart of America in the wake of the 20th century. As a result, his latest documentary, Where to Invade Next, epitomizes his core viewpoint with a somewhat bitter manner as Moore embarked on a quest outside of “The Land of Liberty”, mostly European, to show us what America could learn from them and actually make itself great again.

Michael Moore touring through a factory with Ducati CEO Claudio Domenicali

This film takes the form of a travelogue, following Moore’s tongue-in-cheek “invasion” to a dozen of countries, each of which has attained in its system a policy or a way of life so progressive in the most sincerely positive aspect. Moore believes these propositions could very well be the solutions to countless of irefully debated, controversial issues in America: quality of education, workers’ stress problem, discrimination of all kinds, etc. Every place he visits verbalizes a thought-provoking and a memorable experience for all of us, as they are the real-life slices of respect and social movements done right. The stories are up close and personal, told directly to him in a friendly and open demeanor. People, from ordinary workers to politician, just sit down and have a hospitable talk. To Moore’s amazement, they sincerely share facts that seem too good to be true at first but are confirmed in time.

Michael Moore and an Italian couple

In Italy, average factory workers come by their annual welfare through paid holidays, paid parental leaves, and extra-month salary. They stay happy and comfortable with their work-life balance; meanwhile, stress problems at workplaces is prevented before it can develop to be more severe.

In France, young students receive proper meals made by legit chefs. They are dedicated to the task of offering younger generations a decent nutrition scheme. Besides, sex education is also provided in the proper way, ensuring early awareness about this area of knowledge

Moore at a school in France

In Tunisia, feminist movements have achieved unbelievable progress as women have proved their involvement in Tunisian Revolution and Constitution of 2014. They are now fully provided with reproductive healthcare.

Those are just three among the admirable examples learned from them. The broad-minded people there are all willing to offer a hand in giving a word of wholehearted intention, even when they are just primary students in French state schools, Norwegian prisoners, or the President of Slovenia. More surprisingly, this thinking originated from a radical mindset – a way of thinking and accomplishing that is not new to America at all but is rather overlooked and forgotten.

Even some of the aforementioned concepts are surprisingly established by Americans themselves from America’s early days. Furthermore, these Finnish, Portuguese and German, just to name a few, communities are enjoying their satisfactory status quo that must be relentlessly fought to attain, instead of just passively waiting for changes to come from external efforts. Each time prior to leaving one of these nations, Moore does not forget to set up his American flag on their terra firma, jokingly claims to have conquered them by stealing thoughts to apply in a muddled situation in his homeland.

In sour taste, the documentary does start with a montage of the woes America is facing, so Moore’s purpose might very well be to offend the entire constitutional body of the US and its avaricious corporate system. Clips of America’s shortcomings are interlaced in between parts of his foreign visits, along with his ironic voiceover or flippant background music cues. Or his travelogue could possibly be filtered through Moore’s agenda-pushing motives to the most trustworthy and loving sense. Nonetheless, Where to Invade Next still offers more than just the sum of its liberal parts.

If we set aside political biases and look closer into his ideas – their very ideas of humanity – respect and harmony, which might sound far-fetched and impractical in the current world situation, this documentary can be one of the most eye-opening experiences to people who are unaware of unpleasant state full of raging disputes in America.