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“Sicko” Rhetorical Analysis

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“Sicko” is a documentary produced by Michael Moore that focuses on health care in America.The documentary provides an in depth understanding and analysis of the unceasing health care problems in America. Most of these problems result from the corruption present in the American health insurance industry. The message that Michael Moore is trying to get across to his audience is that of the immortality within the American health care system. Michael Moore is able to get his message across to the public by incorporating the three rhetoric techniques of logos, pathos, and ethos. He uses logos by comparing America’s health insurance to those of other countries, pathos by evoking both feelings of sadness and laughter, and ethos by personally visiting different countries and seeing for himself the profusion of apparent differences.

In Part one of the documentary, Michael Moore mainly focuses on establishing the corruption and deception present in America’s health care industry. He built upon this corruption by conducting multiple interviews with previous and current employees of the industry. This established a strong sense of ethos as all the people being interviewed were people who have personally experienced work in the health care industry. One particularly significant interview was with a woman who currently worked in the health care industry. Her job required her to help people who were applying for health insurance. Although this may seem like a simple job, the interviewee talked about having to help applicants of health insurance, whom she knew would eventually be rejected. Even though the health insurance companies are supposed to try to help people, the process of even attempting to get health care is a challenge in itself. The interviewee stated that the list of certain illnesses that prevents one from getting health insurance is long enough to “wrap around [her] entire house”. The credibility Michael Moore attempts to establish is further emphasized as he conducts interviews with actual victims of the American health care system.

These stories along with credibility also utilize the rhetoric device of pathos. As these interviewees are all victims of this system, their stories are all very tragic and mostly result in awful consequences. One story followed the story of an American woman who was notified of a tumor in her brain. As she applied for a surgery to remove this tumor, a letter came back from her health insurance company stating that the surgery will not be conducted as “the circumstances [were] not life threatening”. This woman, who could not afford the costly surgery on her own, had to make the decision not to have the surgery. It turned out that the tumor in the brain continued to grow, and she eventually passed away. The pathos present in this story and all the others are crucial for the audience to clearly understand Michael Moore’s point.

In order to see the health insurance companies in the way Michael Moore sees them, the audience must see the numerous victims’ personal stories of tragedy. Along with ethos and pathos, these specific interviews also employ the device of logos. American health care, which American politicians renown to be one of the best in the world, is supposed to help the victims of health problems. However, by interviewing people with health care that are still treated with neglect, Michael Moore shows the logic behind his hatred for the American health care industry. If even people with health care suffer, it is clear that the system is not working at all. Part one of the documentary ends with these numerous stories and eventually integrates into Part two of the documentary, where Michael Moore introducers a much lighter atmosphere.

The second portion of the documentary follows Michael Moore’s journeys in three different countries: Canada, France and Great Britain. These countries and their health care systems all serve as representatives of models that are successful in fulfilling the best interests of their patients. All of the experiences that Michael Moore have in these three countries utilizes the device of logos. The point that he is trying to make is that logically, if these three countries are able to make this system work, then America should be able to make their health care system work as well. When he was in Great Britain, Michael Moore interviewed a doctor who was working at a hospital. As the health care system in Britain is fully paid for by the taxes of citizens, it is accurate to say that the doctors are all employees of the government. In America, employees of the government are examples of people that do not earn a lot of money. However, when Michael Moore interviewed this doctor and asked him about his lifestyle, the doctor responded by saying that he actually lived in a nice home, in a nice neighborhood, and drove a nice car.

Michael Moore then proceeded to see how citizens, who have to pay higher taxes because of the fully funded health care, were living their lives. This interview took place in France when Michael Moore interviewed a family and asked what their big expenses consisted of other than the expenses related to their house. The mother of the family responded somewhat hesitantly “…fish? … vegetables?” This dialogue establishes pathos as it makes use of satirical humor. For Americans, it is almost unbelievable that “fish” and “vegetables” fit under the category for big expenses. Other than its use of pathos, this interview was also important in further establishing logos. This short and sarcastic exchange about fish and vegetables refutes America’s claim that free health care would be detrimental to the citizens of the United States. This average family in France, despite their increased taxes, live comfortably because they have free access to health care, and don’t have to live with the worry of paying any medical bills. This segment of the documentary mainly focused on the buildup of pathos and logos.

Pathos was prevalent as it was humorous to see how countries like Canada, France, and England contrasted so sharply from America. Michael Moore was able to utilize this pathos in a more effective manner by exaggerating his reactions when he realized that both healthcare and medicine in these countries were completely free. Logos is the most significant device in this section of the documentary as the message that Michael Moore is trying to illustrate with these comparisons is basically that “If they can do it, you [America] can do it too”. Ethos is also incorporated throughout this whole section as Michael Moore personally goes to these countries to interview and learn about the different healthcare systems. The final segment of the documentary eases back into the American health industry and its problems. In Part three of Michael Moore’s documentary, the overall aim in the story is simply to gear back to America’s faulty health care system.

In this section, Michael Moore introduces several 9/11 rescue workers who struggled to obtain substantial health care. The fact that even the nation’s heroes are struggling to meet their health needs highlights the profound problem underlying America’s health care system. After conducting interviews with numerous rescue workers, Michael Moore showcases videos describing the pristine health care system present in Guatemala Bay, Cuba. Guatemala Bay is a prison for America’s deadliest offenders; yet, the prison provides universal health care. After realizing this, Michael Moore rounded up all the 9/11 rescue workers and decided to take a trip to the Guatemala Bay prison. When they were denied entry into the prison, Michael Moore shouted out, “We [the rescue workers] just want the get the same health care as Al Qaeda!” With the prison’s universal health care, it is accurate to say that Al Qaeda, who is one of America’s worst enemies, receives better healthcare than these heroes of the 9/11 incident. With this stunt, Michael Moore utilizes the devices of pathos and logos.

Pathos is used to emphasize the satirical nature behind the assertion that prisoners receive better healthcare than 9/11 rescue workers. Logos is used to state that in an ideal world, heroes should receive universal care. However, as Michael Moore shows in his documentary, this is certainly not the case. As they fail to enter the prison, Michael Moore refuses to go back without making any change, and decides to take his group of rescue workers to a Cuban hospital. When these workers enter the hospital and meet with doctors, they are able to fix problems and issues that they would not have been able to afford in America. At the end of their treatments, they leave the hospital without paying a single dollar. Cuba, which is often regarded as an enemy country of America, provides better health care services to the heroes of America than the American health care system.

This whole scenario in Cuba makes continuous use of logos. Michael Moore asserts that even though Cuba is a developing country has a much lower GDP than America, they still strive to achieve universal health care for all of their citizens. This trip showed how a country that was less wealthy than America still managed better healthcare than one of the richest and most developed countries in the world. In the end of the documentary, Moore addresses his audience and highlights how people should be “taking care of each other, no matter the differences.” The last scene of the documentary shows Moore walking to the White House sarcastically saying that he will get the government to do his laundry until all the sick people in America get the health care they need.

Through his use of pathos, logos, and ethos, Michael Moore was able to send a clear message about health care to the U.S. government and its citizens. In comparing and contrasting the health care systems of different countries, questioning America’s morals, and conducting numerous interviews, Michael Moore made it easy for the audience to understand his point of view and more importantly, the victims’ points of views. In conclusion, Michael Moore was very effective in employing the three rhetorical devices of pathos, logos, and ethos to strengthen his argument as a whole.

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