Sicko’s Sick Stunt
MTV film critic Kurt Loder takes apart Michael Moore’s Sicko. The entire review is well worth reading, but here’s a sample, Loder on Moore’s most distasteful stunt:
Fidel Castro’s island dictatorship, now in its 40th year of being listed as a human-rights violator by Amnesty International, is here depicted as a balmy paradise not unlike the Iraq of Saddam Hussein that Moore showed us in his earlier film, “Fahrenheit 9/11.” He and his charges make their way — their pre-arranged way, if it need be said — to a state-of-the-art hospital where they receive a picturesquely warm welcome. In a voiceover, Moore, shown beaming at his little band of visitors, says he told the Cuban doctors to “give them the same care they’d give Cuban citizens.” Then he adds, dramatically: “And they did.”
If Moore really believes this, he may be a greater fool than even his most feverish detractors claim him to be. Nevertheless, medical care is provided to the visiting Americans, and it is indeed excellent. Cuba is in fact the site of some world-class medical facilities (surprising in a country that, as Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar noted in the Los Angeles Times last month, “imprisoned a doctor in the late 1990s for speaking out against government failure to respond to an epidemic of a mosquito-borne virus”). What Moore doesn’t mention is the flourishing Cuban industry of “health tourism” — a system in which foreigners (including self-admitted multimillionaire film directors and, of course, government bigwigs) who are willing to pay cash for anything from brain-surgery to dental work can purchase a level of treatment that’s unavailable to the majority of Cubans with no hard currency at their disposal…[I]n a 2004 article in Canada’s National Post, writer Isabel Vincent quoted a dissident Cuban neurosurgeon, Doctor Hilda Molina, as saying, “Cubans should be treated the same as foreigners. Cubans have less rights in their own country than foreigners who visit here.”
As the Caribbean sun sank down on Moore’s breathtakingly meretricious movie, I couldn’t help recalling that when Fidel Castro became gravely ill last year, he didn’t put himself in the hands of a Cuban surgeon. No. Instead, he had a specialist flown in — from Spain.
So, before you head to Cuba for treatment, think about the system you’re helping to perpetuate there. (Thanks to Kerry Halferty Hardy for the Loder review link.)