Michael Moore Makes Us See Paris In A Whole New Light. And Not Just The Health Care!

Illustration for article titled Michael Moore Makes Us See Paris In A Whole New Light. And Not Just The Health Care!

I went to see the Michael Moore health care opus Sicko on Wednesday night with Pillhead. We thought it would be fun if we took extra psychotropic drugs beforehand. Perhaps this is why we both emerged anxious that our waterproof mascara had malfunctioned. That night Michael Moore had been scheduled to appear on Larry King Live, which we probably would have skipped to drink beer, but as it happened his appearance had been pushed to accommodate Paris Hilton's exclusive post-release interview. Which, duh, we needed to watch. Was there symbolism? Could these two things be tenuously linked for a semi-convincingly thinky blog post??


Let's see! Both Sicko and Paris are reflections of the side-effects of a system that has swallowed two many years of the juvenile ideology that the market is a fair and efficient and virtuous thing. Sometimes the market fucks up! How else to explain the absurd amount of intelligent manpower dedicated to covering the nonevents of the life of a total retard like Paris? The hundreds of video cameras and telephoto lenses and news organizations and bloggers and... it's not a misappropriation of resources on the scale of, say, the Iraq War, but you see what I'm getting at. At some point the American economy has to stop rewarding people simply for being pretty and hateful and making dudes want to fuck you! At some point it has to look out for its citizens and pay for their hospital visits. Because that is what grown-up countries do.

If nothing else Paris has always consistently been blond and tan and vacant and materialistic and selfish. She upheld the beauty ideal I learned from Barbie and Abercrombie & Fitch catalogs and the notion of the rational homo economicus I learned from Adam Smith. (Which is to say, Adam Smith, Wikipedia entry of.) Paris is what a real hot girl tries to look like and how a real hot girl is taught to act.

And as many of us know, across much of the land, non-heiresses who look like Paris Hilton become pharmaceutical sales reps. Pharmaceutical sales reps canvass the country in short skits and company cars doling out free Viagra and sometimes blowjobs to doctors. No, really. They also bring them candy, notebooks, pizza, beer, wine, money, furniture, vacations, and a weird form of reliable companionship. They are paid a salary and get commissions on the number of prescriptions their target doctors write.

Doctors play along with this because their lives kind of suck. They bought into some semblance of job security when they signed up for four years of medical school, but their days are spent haggling or hiring people to haggle with patients' insurance companies. Balancing the correct number of treatments and procedures and hospital days to maximize the reimbursement a doctor gets on a patient he or she is treating can be a high art. Meanwhile doctors' own insurance, covering the malpractice, usually costs somewhere in the six figures annually. And so it has become popular for those in the medical profession to take freebies from — and throw "bones" to — pharma reps in the form of unnecessary prescriptions, in much the same way it's become popular for them to seek out specialties in which they can avoid insurance. Hence: Pillhead.

Hence: That $65 bottle of alcohol dependence pills I didn't need, to accompany the still patent-protected $85 bottle of name-brand amphetamines I use to cope with this job, which ought to provide health benefits but I still can't figure out the fucking paperwork.


Also hence: Implants!

For years the pharma reps have been worrying about/waiting to pounce on Sicko, and clucking away on their message boards over who among them Michael Moore would mock relentlessly on his film. (I read pharma message boards sometimes, for the sophomoric humor and funny porn.) They'll be disappointed to learn Moore didn't pay them much mind in his film. When he dwells, it's on the American system's more woebegone victims and various European systems' more photogenic and charmed beneficiaries. He almost ignores the pill-making industry entirely, possibly because it's big enough to fill another movie, but mostly because he's not trying to make a comprehensive (or unbiased or, ahem, prescriptive film; he's mainly, as usual, trying to rise above ideology and appeal to Americans' latent long-forgotten sense of decency. Decent citizens, in Moore's eyes, don't object to paying slightly higher taxes for a benefit all humans should have. And some pharma reps, what do you know, are decent human beings:

OP here- former Area manager, national manager, blah blah blah, lots of background in pharmaceuticals .....there is a reason that the feds, Michael Moore and the public in general are getting more militant....the system is breaking down...driven by greed... You can quote Adam Smith, Marx, the PMA, and the AMA...It's of no importence. The economy of America can no longer afford our present system...It's really that simple.


The same could be said for this pop culture we have. Where in the past, my relationship with Paris Hilton had been merely transactional — giving her hits got me hits — the moment she screamed out for her mommy in the courtroom (a scream I didn't actually hear, but it seemed to disturb Greta Van Susteren) the story turned into, well, an actual story. After years of consistent, unabashed, on-message vapidness, Paris gave us a desperate, unscripted, and for once unprofitable moment. Here was a spoiled idiot who really really really did not want to go back to jail, despite the fact that no way was any publisher going to cough up the rumored million dollar advance for a prison diary boasting two days in prison. The idea that she was legitimately afraid, or addicted, or depressed, or capable of feeling anything other than the rational greed of Economic Man, was somehow hopeful. Maybe one of these days, one felt, she would grow the fuck up. In the meantime, we could stop paying such close attention to her and maybe grow up ourselves.

Because when our insurance drops us as a patient once we come down with cervical cancer, crying out for Mommy is... well, our mommy isn't Kathy Hilton.


Andy Ryan

Heeeey! You wanna know who's lives REALLY suck? The people who work in the pharmacies. There's nothing better than day-in, day-out, servicing addicts getting their legal highs, draining the health care system of its resources while people with legitimate problems get fucked by the insurance company. You know, like the people who get $2,500 dollars worth of painkillers for free pm Worker's Comp for a thumb injury they suffered in 1989. 100% true story, no exaggeration. And then twenty minutes later you get to tell a woman that her insurance company won't cover the cost of her cancer medication. Yet another true story.

And then you have to deal with the torrent of questionably legal immigrants getting painkillers and Xanax, because lord knows picking lettuce is so stressful... All for free, of course. You know, with our tax dollars. Then we get to hear people come to the genius conclusion that it all must be the pharmaceutical sales rep's faults that the cost of healthcare is so high. All the while, our hands our tied while we fill completely unnecessary prescriptions, like Mrs. "Take 4 Xanax every day as needed and 5 Ativan every day as needed for anxiety. Brand medically necessary." Yes, you guessed it. True story.

Well thanks a shit load, Doris McFuckthesystem. Your $500 dollar a month painkiller addiction is what is ruining this country's health care system, you selfish cunt. Should we blame the doctor? Possibly. Except when you witness firsthand a patient threatening to sue a doctor over the phone because he wouldn't fax over a refill authorization for her delightful (and again, completely unnecessary) cocktail of extra-strength Vicodin and Ambien. And then you get to stand by and watch as, after the doctor apparently ignores her threat, she gets on the phone with none other than her fucking lawyer. I bet you never knew poor people had lawyers. And then you get to deliver service with a smile as one hour later, the fax comes from the doctor's office authorizing five more refills for that prescription, all the while knowing your hands are tied and you can't tell this self-serving cunt to stop ruining other people's lives.

Because then you might get sued.