What's the difference between art and propaganda? The artist wants to communicate and share and the propagandist wants to manipulate.
Michael Moore is a talented filmmaker, a great marketer, and a superb propagandist. Those skills have now been invested in his latest film venture about health care, "Sicko."
Part of the shtick, of course, is the portrayal that he's a man on a mission. A social crusader -- a kind of Ralph Nader whose medium is film.
"I mean, it is really disgusting," he says, "when a guy in a ball cap with a high school education is the one asking the tough questions....Criticize me? No. Somebody, really should show up and say, 'Thanks.'"
But a lot of people are showing up and saying "thanks." It's why Moore, from what appears to have been pretty humble working class beginnings in Flint, Mich., is now a multi-millionaire and far from being a simple guy in a ball cap. Folks are saying thanks by plunking down fistfuls of dollars to see his films and buy and rent his videos.
Moore's last film, "Fahrenheit 9/11," a broadside attack on the Bush Administration and the war on terror, grossed $220 million worldwide and cost $6 million to produce.
Is he a social commentator? A man who lives to reform?
No, this is an entrepreneur from the far political left with a business model that is serving him very well. The usual left wing Hollywood con artist, who talks socialism and gets rich off capitalism.
Moore's films are to social commentary what pornography is to human relations.
Find vulnerabilities and hot buttons, stimulate, provoke, exploit and sell tickets.
I've had a chance to see "Sicko" because I was on a TV panel that hosted Moore as part of his promotion campaign.
The film, which cost $9 million to produce, and likely will generate nine figure revenues, is out of the usual mold.
It pitches socialized medicine by cherry picking stories that allegedly testify to the success of the government-run systems in Great Britain, France, Canada, and even Cuba, and then finds horror stories to show how bad things are in the U.S.
I shot an e-mail to a friend, an American, now a long time resident of Great Britain, and asked about their National Health Service. Here's the response: