We are in the midst of some very … how shall I say it … peculiar political times what with the current presidency nearing its end and the political hopefuls who practically are beating us over the head with reasons why they are THE perfect one to fill that post. Is it the best of times? Or the worst? Well, if you are looking for some entertainment to ease your … uhm … pain—to lift you up from news overload, do yourself a favor. Hitch up your horses to your covered wagon and ride on down to the Ross to screen Michael Moore’s newest installation Where to Invade Next. It is a documentary that ponders the thought: How to Make America great again, and, seemingly, the answers cannot be found in our own backyards—or can they?
To answer this question, Moore images that the Joint Chiefs of Staff summon him for advice after realizing that war only led to more war and the creation of subversive forces. Michael narrates, “They hadn’t won a war outright since the big one—WW2 … they felt humiliated, embarrassed … their hands were all placed in a … ahem … no fly zone.” After some thought Moore strongly recommends them to “stand down and give our troops a much deserved break. There are to be no invasions, no more using drones as wedding crashers. Instead of sending in the marines, send in me!”
These places of invasion are Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East, namely, Finland, France, Germany, Iran, Italy, Norway, Portugal, Slovenia, and Tunisia. Moore makes known the communal perks that each country affords its citizens, and you will be surprised to know that these benefits find root in none other than in American soil! In his interviews and conversations with residents, we are mesmerized by the amount of leisure and vacation time Italians are given. The month of August – the MONTH of August, the country practically shuts down. In an average year, he discovers, there are usually 30-35 days of paid holiday, that does not include the 12 days of paid national holidays plus 2 hour lunch breaks. Next invasion: Normandy, France in one of the best places to eat in town: the school cafeteria. You’ll have to see the film to believe the menu!
The most poignant invasion is in Iceland. In Iceland, Moore allows the voices of the country’s women to lay out a solution to peace and national caretaking of citizens. As a panel of women critique the notion of rugged individualism that the United States embraces with fervor, this panel prefers the “we” or the group. Former President Vigdis Finnbogadottir, explains, “It is my belief in women … if the world can be saved it will be women who will do that; and they do not do it with war; they do it with words!” These visions come at the end of the documentary. It is a strategic move given these political times. Think about it.
Still in all, Moore reminds audiences that our country once espoused certain ideals and values that catered to the general welfare of the country’s people. The fight for the ERA, he tells us, began 8 years before Iceland elected its first female president. Moore’s trek sadly suggests, however, that the halcyon days of yore have been forgotten or simply dismissed. Where was the love? Right here in the United States. But what happened?
Where to Invade Next plays through March 24th at at the Ross Media Arts Center in Lincoln.