Sidestepping Farhenheit 9/11 comparisons is also a tad dubious on its face. Maybe it's not quite Madonna sexy, but heath care has finished second in almost every recent poll of voter priorities. If people buy tickets on their politics, there should be a sizable audience out there somewhere.
For as long as Michael Moore has been directing the left has been in a state of intermittent rapture and the right, underneath its loathing, in a state of deep anxiety. The common assumption has been that Moore's big audiences represent a vast reservoir of ordinary Americans--the middle-of-the-road, non-documentary watching Joe Consumer types--that are eager to pay for a liberal sermon.
In retrospect, that Bowling for Columbine didn't spark any important discussion of gun control and Fahrenheit 9/11 didn't drive George Bush from office might have been clues. That Sicko isn't breaking any new ground suggests that Moore's audience represents a much more familiar reservoir: largely non-political Americans looking for novel entertainment. It also suggests that Moore's creative funk might last a little longer than he'd hoped.
Louis Wittig is a media writer in New York.