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Michael Moore is taking aim through rose-tinted glasses

This article is over 5 years, 7 months old
US radical director Michael Moore’s film Where to Invade Next? makes some serious points, but badly idealises European society, writes Simon Shaw
Issue 2509
Michael Moore misfires in his latest film
Michael Moore misfires in his latest film

Michael Moore’s previous documentaries have raged against the Iraq war, the lack of gun control and the collapse of working class US cities. But his latest film is his most upbeat.

Where to Invade Next? is a jolly tour across Europe—with a brief stop-off in Tunisia.

It asks why European countries have adopted “American values” such as democracy and free education, while the US has sold out to the market.

Moore’s celebration of all things “European” is perhaps best summed up when we are presented with shots of Italians walking past fountains and eating ice creams.

He asks, “Why do all Italians always look like they have just had sex?”

Moore’s answer is that the Italian state gives them 80 days paid holiday a year, while in the US most workers get none.

But Where to Invade Next? does make some serious points. It shows up the flaws in many US policies by looking at real-life counter-examples.

For instance, the US war on drugs hasn’t just failed, it has almost exclusively targeted African-American people.

Meanwhile in Portugal there are no drug laws.

US children are fed chemicals made to look like food—in France some of the best kitchens are in primary schools, even in the poorest towns.

In Norway high risk inmates have keys for their cells and wardens greet them with a specially recorded song.

Their rates of reoffending are around 20 percent compared to 70 percent in the US.


Finland boasts the best education system in the world.

Students are never given homework and the emphasis is on humanity not testing. Moore contrasts this with scenes of US students being searched by armed guards.

Where to Invade Next? does not include Britain in its itinerary, as Moore argues Britain is too similar to the US.

This is driven home during his visit to Slovenia, where university students pay no fees and get a high quality education.

Moore is undoubtedly on our side. In interviews for the film he has said Tony Blair bears more responsibility for the tragedy in Iraq than former US president George Bush.

Moore says he gave the mission “liberal cover”.

He has also admitted that the film “ignores the weeds” in Europe—and this is the film’s major flaw.

By focusing on the European flowers, he overlooks austerity, the rise of the fascist and racist right and the refugee crisis.

Moore is also too dismissive of the potential for change in the US itself from movements such as Black Lives Matter and the self-described socialist Bernie Sanders.

This film is fun—but it is filmed through rose-tinted glasses.

Where to Invade Next?
Directed by Michael Moore
In cinemas now


The powerful new documentary Vessel tells the story of Dr Rebecca Gomperts and a group of campaigners providing women with abortions on a Netherlands ship in international waters.

This was the beginning of the Women on Waves and later Women on Web projects. They offer women medical advice and support in places where abortion access is banned or limited.

The anguished calls and emails to the ship from women show their impact The film points to the opportunities women have to access an early medical abortion through Misoprostol pills in places where abortion is criminalised.

Pro-choice activists are planning to use drones to drop the pills in Northern Ireland. Campaigners across Ireland are demanding the right to legal abortions.

Dr Gomperts is travelling to London to speak at a screening of the film to raise money for Abortion Rights and support the camapaign.

Judith Orr

Director Diana Whitten
Abortion Rights screening
Friday 8 July, 7pm
Genesis Cinema, London E1 4UJ

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