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Film / Capitalism: A Love Story

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"This is capitalism. A system of taking and giving... mostly taking."

Capitalism: A Love Story is a 2009 documentary, by Michael Moore. Twenty years after attacking General Motors in Roger & Me Moore documents the (he argues) detrimental role that Neoliberal-Neoclassical policies and big business play in our lives, how they caused the Great Recession, and how it will take people demanding change, and not compromising or giving in, for anything substantial to upset the status quo.


Tropes Are:

  • Capitalism Is Bad: This documentary sets out to argue against capitalism as its writers understand it, going as far as to equate it with sin.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Capitalism as a whole is criticized, so this is a given.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: In-Universe, Michael Moore shows a clip from his first documentary Roger & Me where he discusses with Tom Kay the possibility that all the General Motors jobs in Flint, Michigan could be lost if GM wanted to avoid bankruptcy. Four months before Capitalism was released in the US, GM declared bankruptcy, and by then, almost all the GM factories in Flint had shuttered.
  • Hiding Behind Religion: The film presents many crooked businessmen as doing this, claiming their ill-gotten gains as a gift from God, while a Catholic priest argues that capitalism is incompatible with the teachings of Christianity. (Moore is an active Catholic.) To drive the point further, clips from Jesus of Nazareth with edited dialogue appear to show what Jesus would be like as a capitalist:
    Rich Man: Master! What must I do to have eternal life?
    Jesus: Go forth and maximize profits.

    Israelite: You say the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. But when exactly will it be?
    Jesus: When you deregulate the banking industry.

    Man with palsy: Please help me. I've been this way for over 20 years.
    Jesus: I'm sorry. I cannot heal your preexisting condition. He'll have to pay out of pocket.
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  • Historical-Domain Character: stock footage of Franklin D. Roosevelt explaining his "Second Bill of Rights" appears in the the film, leading to discussion of how his death a year later hindered legislation for economic, health care, and arms reduction reforms.
  • Spiritual Successor: To Roger & Me, to the point that this film could actually be considered a sequel.
  • Technobabble: Moore portrays economics as nonsense by Quote Mining Wall Street experts explaining advanced concepts like derivatives and credit default swaps while he hams up the Faux Horror and feigned confusion.
  • That Poor Cat: In the scene replaying President Bush's September 24, 2008 Our Economy Is In Danger speech, animation in the background (by Flickerlab) shows the White House wrecked by earthquakes, tidal waves, fire, lightning and hurricanes, which blow a yowling cat through the air right behind ol'El Presidente.
  • You Keep Using That Word: Politicians love using the word "socialism" to describe any kind of reform or program as a negative. But Michael Moore picks up a dictionary and speaks with Senator Bernie Sanders, and finds that socialism (or at least Democratic Socialism) doesn't sound too awful. On the other side of the coin, Moore seems to largely equate "capitalism" to Finance Capitalism, particularly the speculation-market-focused Casino Capitalism sub-form (which even many defenders of capitalism consider The Scrappy of capitalist economic systems).


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