Capitalism: A Love Story  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Capitalism: A Love Story is a 2009 American documentary film directed, written by and starring Michael Moore. The film centers on the financial crisis of 2007–2010 and the recovery stimulus, while putting forward an indictment of the current economic order in the United States and capitalism in general. Topics covered include Wall Street's "casino mentality", for-profit prisons, Goldman Sachs' influence in Washington, D.C., the poverty-level wages of many workers, the large wave of home foreclosures, corporate-owned life insurance, and the consequences of "runaway greed". The film also features a religious component where Moore examines whether or not capitalism is a sin and if Jesus would be a capitalist.

The film was widely released to the public in the United States and Canada on October 2, 2009. It was released on DVD and Blu-ray on March 9, 2010.

Synopsis

The film begins with a series of security footage of armed bank robberies (one of the robbers was even on a crutch) accompanied by the song Louie, Louie. Moore then uses an Encyclopædia Britannica archive video to compare modern-day America with the Roman Empire. The film then depicts home videos of families being evicted from their homes, as well as the "Condo Vultures," a Florida real estate agency whose business flourished with the increasing number of foreclosures.

The film then cuts back to the past "golden days" of American capitalism following World War II, followed by a "bummer" speech by President Jimmy Carter warning Americans of the dangers of worshiping "self-indulgence and consumption". In the following Ronald Reagan years where the policies of Don Regan "turned the bull loose" for free enterprises, corporations gained more political power, unions were weakened, and socioeconomic gaps were widened. Moore suggests that Reagan was favored for his charisma and communication skills rather than effective leadership, and highlights one of Reagan's speeches in which Regan, somewhat indiscreetly, orders Reagan to "speed it up". The film then cuts to the kids for cash scandal, Captain Chesley Sullenberger's congressional testimony regarding airline pilots' poor treatment, and the exposé of "dead peasant insurance" policies that have companies such as Wal-Mart profiting from the deaths of their employees instead of the employees' families. Moore then interviews several Catholic priests, including Bishop Thomas Gumbleton (Archdiocese of Detroit), all of whom consider capitalism a "radical evil" contrary to the teachings of Christianity. The film then presents a parody of what would happen if Jesus was a capitalist who wanted to "maximize profits," "deregulate the banking industry," and wanted the sick to "pay out of pocket" for their "pre-existing condition" (via clips taken from Jesus of Nazareth), in contrast with several news pundits who proclaim the success of various capitalist enterprises as being a "blessing from God."

After referring to Dr. Jonas Salk, who for the public good, selflessly refused to patent the polio vaccine (asking, "Could you patent the sun?"), Moore wonders about how the brightest of America's young generation are attracted into finance instead of science. Moore then goes to Wall Street seeking technical explanation about derivatives and credit default swaps, only to be advised "don't make any more movies". Eventually Marcus Haupt, a former VP of Lehman Brothers, agrees to help but fails at clearly explaining these terms. Harvard professor Kenneth Rogoff similarly fails. Moore eventually concludes that the complex system and terminology are merely there to confuse and "get away with murder", and Wall Street is just "an insane casino."

Moore then explores the role of Alan Greenspan and the U.S. Treasury in leading up to the United States housing bubble that devastated the American middle class. Moore also interviews a former employee at Countrywide Financial responsible for their VIP program for "FOAs" and details how many members of Congress and political figures received favorable mortgage rates under the program. Moore then discusses with William Black, who analogizes the situation to the build-up of the collapse of a dam. The film then shows the series of events leading up to the passing of the 2008 bailout proposed by Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson (also the former CEO of Goldman Sachs). Moore then speaks with several Members of Congress, including Ohio congresswoman Marcy Kaptur, who agrees with Moore's comment that the passing of the bailout is a "financial coup d'état".

Moore interviews Elizabeth Warren, the head of the US Congressional Oversight Committee, the government agency serving as a watchdog for Congress' wrong-doing. He asks her, "Where's our money?", referring to the $700 billion bailout money which Congress gave to the big banks and Wall Street investment companies. Warren replies, "I don't know." Advised by Warren to contact Paulson's office for answers, Moore's call is promptly disconnected upon recognition of his identity. He then goes to Wall Street demanding to "get the money back for the American people", but is denied entry into every office building of the major banks. The film next documents the mass layoff and subsequent sitdown strike of some 200 Republic Windows and Doors employees, concluding in the success of these strikers.

The film then shows that in the year following Franklin D. Roosevelt's death and the Allied victory in World War II, many of the defeated nations were given the rights proposed by FDR, but Americans were not. The film then jumps ahead 60 years to show the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, which Moore suggests would have been less severe were it not for the economic system which made Wall Street rich while forcing residents of New Orleans to live in a poorly-maintained neighborhood.

The documentary features a number of positive portrayals, which include bailout watchdog Elizabeth Warren, Wayne County Sheriff Warren Evans, who put forth a moratorium on home evictions, and Ohio Representative Marcy Kaptur, who on the floor of the US Congress encouraged Americans to be "squatters" in their own homes, and refuse to vacate. Moore gives particular focus on a Hispanic family who were cheated out of their house by the bank and were living in a mobile home for a while but then moved back into their house with support from their neighbours. The bank responded by sending a representative and the police (notably, a total of nine police cars) to intervene, but the family and neighbourhood stood their ground, winning over the representative (who himself was a fellow Hispanic) and sending the police away.

The film closes with Moore placing police lines around numerous banks, and lastly, Wall Street itself. In his closing speech, Moore declares that capitalism is an evil which can only be eliminated and replaced with the goodness of democracy - rule by the people, not by money. He asks all those who agree to "speed it up."

A swing rendition of the Socialist anthem "The Internationale," sung by Tony Babino, a New York big band artist, plays over the closing credits.





Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Capitalism: A Love Story" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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