A Thin Line…

Image and video hosting by TinyPicLast night, I put on some real clothes (read: not American Apparel yoga pants and a tank top), peeled myself from my writing couch and headed to the Magic Johnson Theatre on 125th Street in Harlem. What could make me return to the spot where my husband and I ended up on our meandering first date and had to go hard on some chicks spitting popcorn and therefore swore we would never visit again?
ImageNation Cinema Foundation
—an organization that brings free and low-cost screenings of important, art-house movies to uptown New York City in an attempt to raise the collective consciousness of Harlemites—was holding a screening of Michael Moore’s new movie, Capitalism: A Love Story. Of course, Michael Moore directed Bowling for Columbine and Fahrenheit 9/11, so I was excited to see what this documentary would reveal.
I wasn’t disappointed. The movie is an indictment (quite literally at times) of the capitalist system America has been laboring under since the day somebody’s forefathers first bought and sold my forefathers and purchased the land I stand on for the low-low price of a few glass beads!

As to be expected, there was a lot of stuff I (and my companions) already knew; in fact, any regular reader of Politrix has heard me flap my gums about much of the ground covered. But I did learn some things, and got re-energized about some of the battles I’d gotten a little weary of fighting.

Moore illustrated how America got into the economic situation we now find ourselves in, and examined how capitalism has won out against democracy as the guiding principle of this country. In doing so, he breaks viewers hearts by showing us a family in Peoria being evicted, but tapes them back together again with a story of an organization that helped a Miami family “reclaim” the home from which they had been evicted. He outraged me with info on companies (including Citibank, Bank of America, Walmart, American Express, Winn Dixie and AT&T) that routinely take out “Dead Peasant Insurance” on employees and name themselves the beneficiaries. He introduced me to the Countrywide Financial employee who granted “VIP loans” to members of Congress while his company sold regular homeowners the subprime mortgages that now result in one home foreclosure every 7.5 seconds in America. He intrigued me when he interviewed Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur, a Democrat from Ohio who is speaking out against the fear mongering coming out of the government and advises people to not leave their homes if the banks come knocking. He caught me off guard with previously “lost” footage of FDR proposing a Second Bill of Rights, which would have granted all the rights (healthcare, education, housing, employment, freedom from corporate monopolies) that we’re still fighting for (it died with him in 1945).

Moore and his producers, several of whom were in attendance at the screening, started working on this movie before the bailouts started piling up late last year. When asked about the motivation behind the documentary, one of the producers said Moore felt like he wanted to create a film that would threaten all the guys who have threatened us for so long.

And while I felt he did that, there was one thing missing for me: There was no discussion of the role slavery played in the development of this country’s capitalist system. While that is perhaps a film all it’s own, it would have provided welcome context. In addition, I’m not sure that democracy is the solution to our ills, as Moore posits—but that is definitely another column.

Nonetheless, I recommend that you all see the movie and keep the conversation going. Then take some action. As Moore says at the documentary’s conclusion, “Capitalism is an evil, and you cannot regulate evil. You have to eliminate it and replace it with something that’s good for all people…” Let’s get to work—starting with seeing this movie. Hell, if we can carry Tyler Perry and Madea to the number one spot, we can see this and spread the info. (And while you’re at it, if you’re in NYC, sign up for ImageNation’s mailing list so you can hit up screenings, too.)

Are you planning to see Capitalism: A Love Story when it comes out on October 2nd? Why or why not? Do you agree with Moore that capitalism has replaced democracy? What do you think we can do about it?


If you like Kenrya’s opinion, check out the rest of her posts below.

Last 5 posts by kenrya

  • Jaynelle

    I am officially reminded to check this out! Thank you for the great article.

  • cb

    I’d def like to see this movie! Thanks for the info (b/c I was clearly in the dark)… On another note, I, too, feel like no documentary on American Capitalism and rise is remotely complete without the consideration of slavery and the role that free labor played in America’s wealth and stability… And, moreover, having a husband who’s part Native American (& since we all claim to “have Indian in [our] families at some juncture in the past), I’d like to see how far he delves into that aspect of America’s wealth. A history of “progress” at the [continued] expense of others…

  • t

    Seems Capitalism has worked very well for Moore… but my bank account is available for a deposit from his wealth any time. His films are hypocritical. http://www.thewrap.com/ind-column/michael-moore-celebrates-capitalism-premiere-capitalism-fueled-penthouse_7568

  • Nay

    I love Michael Moore documentaries, and I will definitely check this one out, but I struggle with the notion that capitalism is fundamentally evil. Imbalanced societies and immoral tragedies (such as slavery) can persist in any type of economic/political structure – capitalist, socialist, or communist – because human beings will always find a way to use the system to exploit other human beings. I think one of the major problems with the free market system in America is that our system of accountability is used as a means to oppress certain populations (hence the scores of black men in prison), rather than to punish those who commit the full spectrum of crimes against others whether they are violent crimes or financial crimes. If Wall Street malice had the same consequence as carrying an ounce of crack cocaine, all the cronies UNDER Bernard Madoff would either be in prison or be convicted felons who are out of prison and can’t find jobs – let alone jobs handling people’s money – and America would be a very different place. Right now, in America if you ruin lives and steal money, you really only pay for your crime if the number of people affected is staggering. Until we deal with the legacy of slavery that cripples our judicial system and create a better system of accountability, we will continue having the same problems, even if we succeed at tearing down capitalism and putting something else in its place.

  • Tennille

    I haven’t even finished reading the column yet, but the intro alone made me take a moment to say something. Love the imagery of how you and your husband deal with Harlem World tomfoolery. Of course, I’ll double back and read the rest of it…

  • Diane

    K – so what is the Republic alternative? We do not live in a democracy. We live in a Republic.

    Capitalism isn’t anything – sure isn’t evil. The system does lend itself to breeding narcissistic, power-hungry people – who can be ruthless, devilish, etc. But the system is built on humans – and because of this, there is no system that will be ‘good’ for all.

    The reason? Because the definition of ‘good’ is different for people. So then you’ll have to get a consensus, which will, by the fact of what it is, alienate some. That’s what this Republic is built on – applying a definition to the whole. And it’s still, from what I see, one of the better systems.

    This is why there is no true communist government, no true socialist government. Humans are, by definition, selfish (with rare exceptions). So the leaders of any group tend to have the concentration of power, and then we can see the cycle of greed begin.

    Instead of blaming the entire process of capitalism, perhaps changing Us would be better. The us who would rather spend millions of dollars on athletes while asking the leader of the free world to work for $400k. You wonder why we get the politicians we do? Because they can AFFORD to. Most of Us cannot.

    Change the Us who think the government ‘owes’ Us and ‘we’ deserve handouts. Change the Us who cannot agree on how teachers should, or should not, discipline the next generation – but something has to be done because the Us are not doing it at home.

    Us allowed ourselves to think buying a home is a right. Us allowed ourselves to thing ‘interest only’ loans made sense. Us allowed ourselves to think bigger is better. Us believed the government was watching all of this.

    Why? How can a government be blamed when they are put into office by Us? And then we do nothing – as if a vote is enough.

    Systems are created by Us – and it’s not a system’s fault if it fails. It is Us.

    Us needs to change.

    America didn’t get this way all by itself. Perhaps we should think to better the system then attempt to scrap it – without any viable alternative.

  • Sal

    What a great synopsis of the film – I can’t wait to see it. The only thing I struggle with after watching Moore’s films, though, is: Now what? What can I do about all this?

  • Emmett Grogan

    1% own 90% period. Exploitation of the many by the few. Marx didn’t write THE definitive book: “Capital”, and refer to “wage slaves” for no very deeply researched reasons, and by the way, offered much scientific analysis with possible solutions for finding a way to reverse the grandest theft since ending slavery:capitalism. Workers take what capitalists have and what workers produce produce daily: EVERYTHING.

    FDR’s Second Bill of Rights” was first presented in “Guiliani Time” when it was released in 2006. Go to GuilianiTime.com. Read all the Marx you can find. Moore claims he has never read any, but hey, ya gotta start somewhere…