They say that a nihilist is actually just an idealist who has lost hope. It is very easy in today's world to list topics that can be improved and issues that can be fixed. It is even easier to fall into a pit of pessimism. Turn on the TV. Go to a news website. Start a conversation. Naturally, you would feel as if the human race is on a slow free fall down a pit of helplessness. I think many people feel this way. Michael Moore's 'Where To Invade Next?' offers a large population of the people a well-crafted dish of alertness and awakening, and for the rest of the population a necessary refuelling of hope.
The documentary is about Michael Moore's "invasion" of different laws and ideologies in foreign countries. Moore travels to Italy to learn about the citizens' right to have eight weeks of paid-leave and how it's even helping business! Finland to learn about the free education system. Tunisia to learn about women's rights. And many other countries. Moore says that he doesn't deny that these countries have major problems, but as he says, it's about "picking the flowers, not the weeds." Moore talks to government officials, citizens, workers, CEOs, inmates, and visits many places to learn about what is working for their country.
The most fascinating parts for me, personally, were when Moore described what it took for each country to adapt change. The 2008 crisis resulted in Iceland firing hundreds of CEOs. The sacrifice of Mohamed Bouazizi resulted in social change in Tunisia. These moments were fascinating because it made me wonder about what it will take for similar reforms to take place in the US. The documentary ends brilliantly, which I will get to later, but perhaps fifteen minutes of extra screen-time where different professors predict theories would have made the piece more wholesome.
The funniest parts of the documentary are when we see Moore's reaction to the natives speaking about their "normal" laws. These funny clash of culture scenes are juxtaposed with extremely powerful and poignant images that provide some of the best examples of genre-fusion in film history. The scene where German high school students talk about how they are required to learn about the dark history of Germany was touching, even more when it is next to the dishonest American history books. The scene where Moore says that slavery exists even today when he says "One in three black men can't vote" because prisoners don't have a lot of civil rights, is still engraved in my mind.
In the previous paragraph, I used the phrase "clash of cultures" reluctantly because a common theme that becomes clear is that almost all of the countries Moore has visited have adopted these laws and ways of life from "American" philosophies. Norwegians who believe in forgiving criminals and treating them with respect, took this moral from the founding fathers of America and how they were against treating anyone cruelly. In fact, the movie ends with a clip from 'The Wizard of Oz' where we hear the phrase: "The power to leave Kansas was in you all along."
'Where To Invade Next?' is indeed a very important piece for the critical time the world is in right now. The point of the documentary is not to promote a leftist, liberal, feminist or any other type of agenda. The point is to show how humans ought to treat each other. With compassion and affection. The point is to show how in order to create a sustainable society, certain reconstructions of the way things work have to take place. One of Michael Moore's funniest and most important work to date!