Excerpt from paper introduction:
Michael Moore’s strategies in creating his controversial and unique films bring to mind questions of ethics. I explore questions of ethics by analyzing Michael Moore’s 2007 documentary Sicko, that critiques the American healthcare system. Politics aside, Sicko is unarguably enjoyable to watch due to the humor, perpetual action occurring in almost every scene, and presence of familiar names and places making the content relevant to all Americans. This formula made Michael Moore a great success in documentary cinema, but has also earned him a lot of critics, not only based on his political viewpoints but also based on his blatant disrespect for social customs and people. Although Michael Moore’s process of creating his great films seems to be unethical, I speculate that because his message is so urgent, there is room to move the line from unethical to ethical. By utilizing tragic and real-life personal stories that exist due to American health policy, Michael Moore’s strategies are ethical to film subjects and to the United States. The stories that he includes in Sicko are so tragic and real that his antics of mitigation and interrogation are appreciated.
This clip is an example I use in my paper. A scholar has identified that in this clip, it is unclear if the blame is with the mother or the hospital, and this leads to an ethical question of Moore: Is it ethical to manipulate his audience? I argue that Sicko is not about mother vs. hospital, Sicko is about the failures of the American healthcare system. It is therefore irrelevant whose fault it is, but relevant that a young girl died because of confusion within the system of where she was covered to be treated. In the United States a child should never die because certain locations are unauthorized to treat her. This is unacceptable. Moore is therefore acting ethically in adding this to his film. Because it happened. And if the fault is with the mother in confusing the system, the point is possibly even stronger: A good healthcare system will save a young dying child even if a mother gets the paperwork wrong.