This documentary felt more like a list than a movie. The countries Moore chose and the order in which he visited them seemed random, neither building on nor relating to each other. The escapades themselves were organically funny, relying more on people’s reactions to Moore than to Moore himself, which saved this critic from becoming especially impatient as the movie progressed. A generally comedic tone gave way to the movie’s more serious roots when Moore eventually visited the Berlin Wall and reminisced with an old friend about when the wall fell, but then the film seemed to return to its previous light-hearted, didactic nature and I found myself wondering where Moore was going with all of this. While his actual journey around the world might have been directionless, his film should not have been.
However, my biggest qualm with this movie is the extent to which Americans are demonized. Self-hating Americans and American-hating foreigners, hear me out: The United States is not perfect, but neither is any other country. Indeed, there are strategies that the US should at least consider adopting to combat its domestic problems, but the countries Moore advertises are also imperfect. In addition, it is not so easy for the United States to adopt some of the policies Moore praises because this is a large, populated country and consequently policies that work in smaller countries might be logistically inappropriate here. Many Americans also oppose certain policies, and whether the policy works or not, it cannot and should not be installed in a country whose majority is against it.
Moore speaks here as if the United States is the only country with lacking educational funding, racial tensions, and violent crime. America is not perfect, but it is likely not populated with hordes of apathetic sadists. Moore brags about other countries’ successes in social movements (i.e., women’s rights, racial equality, and students’ rights) as if people in other countries succeeded because they simply tried harder. His narration erroneously implies that protesters in America eventually shrugged and surrendered to the status quo due to fear, laziness, ignorance, and lack of leadership. Obstacles for social movements differ country by country, and it was pathetically self-hating on the part of Moore to dismiss Americans in such a way.
Moore’s theme that the United States should claim other countries’ ideas as its own was clever, as was the quip that America typically steals from others and then claims the stolen item as American. However, he also roundly dismissed Americans and claimed that the United States was founded on quasi-utopian ideals that are now embodied better by foreign countries. Each of these proclamations ignorantly lacks political, historical, and ideological nuance. Listing everything America does wrong doesn’t make Moore artistic or edgy, and it certainly doesn’t aid a country that needs real solutions rather than self-hating sensationalist journalism.
Where to Invade Next? If you must, invade this country. Solve problems here instead of comparing us to everyone else.