- Title: Where to Invade Next
- Country of Origin: USA
- Representation: Italy, France, Finland, Slovenia, Germany, Portugal, Norway, Tunisia, Iceland
- Genre: Documentary
- Released: 2015
- Run Time: 120 Minutes
- Director: Michael Moore
- Available on: Amazon Prime Video
- Recommendation by Ian Magnuson
For starters, I should probably note that I personally don't subscribe to the notion of “objective journalism”. No matter how capable the writer is, I highly doubt it’s possible for her to remove all semblance of bias from the article but ostensibly the piece will be released by some organization touting its down-the-middle viewpoint. I think it’s much more effective and honest for a writer or host or documentarian to be clear about his beliefs from the get-go. This creates a much more effective argument because, in the end, most journalists are arguing that their issue is relevant and important! Now, I’m not saying that we can’t agree that water is wet, the sky is blue, and plain M&Ms are the best flavor, just that we can’t remove human bias from a presentation.
So with that said, let’s talk about Michael Moore, the famous lefty, contrarian documentarian from Flint, Michigan. He’s made a name for himself over a 30+ year career as a progressive filmmaker. For the initiated, please understand that this documentary is taken through a very liberal perspective, BUT I encourage you to try and watch this with some of your more conservative friends and family as Moore attempts to show, not tell, his way through a handful of [mostly] European countries, showcasing different social policies that seem to have popular support abroad!
I won’t run through the whole list but the first three topics that make an appearance are Italian labor practices (including paid maternity leave), and French sex education and school meals - this contrasted with some of the worst that American cafeterias serve (sorry square pizza, it’s hard to compete with French haute-cafeteria-cuisine).
From my personal experience in Europe, most of what I saw lines up with what’s actually happening abroad but there are a handful of things I take issue with. The major one is the French cafeteria in fact. While I’m sure French kids are fed better than many American students, my experience in neighboring Germany begs to differ somewhat. While they likely have similar education budgets, I was not impressed with German high school cafeteria food. It felt exactly like basic and boring American caf food (boiled veggies with maybe a little Spätzle). Perhaps someone with more French experience than me can offer some insight?
My other issue was a sense of pretension that, if I understand my conservative friends correctly, is quite common from my side of the political spectrum. Towards the end of the movie, when interviewing some important women in Icelandic politics, the discussion moves from Iceland’s post-recession boom to chastising America for a multitude of problems. I don’t necessarily disagree with what’s being said but I think it was a poor choice to include this as it reduces its effectiveness as a tool to convince Uncle Ted that maybe France or Slovenia has some good policy ideas we could try.
Oh and Michael is a little creepy around the French children but… I guess that doesn’t have much to do with the film overall. I do recommend seeing it though. The Portuguese police officers’ request to their American boys and girls in blue is heartwarming enough to warrant a peek. I welcome any comments and thoughts below!