No stranger to controversy — on the contrary, he courts it like a man possessed — Michael Moore has never minced words in his tirades against targets, including the NRA and America’s private health care providers.
It should come as no surprise, then, that the Michigan-born documentarian, 55, is equally blunt in his assessment of America’s free-market system in his latest offering, “Capitalism: A Love Story,” which opened Friday.
“Something is seriously wrong with the economic situation in America,” he says. “When I say that capitalism should be eliminated, I’m not talking about eliminating someone trying to open up a business, trying to sell shoes and working hard to make a living.
“To me, capitalism is a system of legalized greed. It’s a Ponzi scheme that guarantees the few people at the top of the pyramid are going to earn most of the money, and everybody else becomes their slaves.”
Moore’s thesis — that the free-market system must go if this divide is to be narrowed — will be greeted with skepticism in some quarters and scornful laughter in others. But that hasn’t stopped him from making his argument to anyone who will listen.
Moore has spent much of the last year creating “Capitalism,” and witnessing firsthand the devastation wrought by the current financial crisis.
As one might expect, “Love Story” documents some of corporate America’s gravest offenses, including the subprime loan scandal and the subsequent $700 billion bailout pushed on Congress by financial players like Goldman Sachs and Bank of America.
Yet, despite his belief that America’s leaders are beholden to big business, Moore argues that capitalism as he defines it can be eliminated if ordinary Americans simply exercise their right to vote. As proof that big change can happen, he cites last year’s presidential election.
“I didn’t think I’d ever see Nelson Mandela released from prison,” he says. “And if you’d told me a few years ago that America was going to elect the black guy, I’d have thought you were crazy.
“I wouldn’t be out here yelling for change if I didn’t think it was possible. I love being an American, and I know we can do better than this.”
IF YOU GO
Capitalism: A Love Story
- Starring, written and directed by Michael Moore
- Rated R
- Running time 2 hours 6 minutes