Sunday, July 15, 2007

Corporate America Commences Censorship Campaign Against Michael Moore

There has been a lot of talk on various blogs about the eagerly awaited Michael Moore film 'Sicko', a film that exposes the inequality inherent in the US healthcare system. Until now I haven't been moved to comment on it to much. I have a rather ambivalent relationship towards Michael Moore. On the one hand I respect his creditable left-wing documentaries and books, but on the other hand I find him a little too egocentric for my tastes. However, to be fair, I am looking forward to catching his movie when it is released in the UK.

The reason I have finally posted on this release, is because something caught my eye when I visited Aaron's blog, 'breathe'. Aaron wrote:

Marcus Theatres--which in Fargo owns all but the independent, downtown theatre that mostly concentrates on independent and foreign films--has not played it.

And out of 500 screens in Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota, Ohio, and North Dakota; Marcus is playing Sicko in one theatre in Madison Wisconsin.

This seemed a little odd to me given that Moore's films tend to be pretty big takers at the box office (certainly by the standards of most documentaries). Consequently, I decided to dig a little deeper into The Marcus Corporation (the group that owns in the cinemas) and I was struck by what I found. The president of their theatre subsidiary, Bruce J. Olson, has ties to the drug industry. The following is a press release from the Corporation's website:

Olson, who serves on the company's board of directors, is also president of Marcus Theatres Corporation. He joined the company in 1974 and served as executive vice president and chief operating officer of Marcus Theatres from 1978 until his appointment as president of the division in 1988. He served as vice president-administration of The Marcus Corporation from 1987 to 1991, when he was elected to his most recent position of group vice president. Olson was elected to the board of directors in 1996.

A graduate of Marquette University, Olson is vice president of the National Association of Theatre Owners of Wisconsin, a director of the National Association of Theatre Owners and a member of Will Rogers Motion Picture Pioneers. He is a trustee of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society of Milwaukee and a member of the Marquette Business School Dean's Advisory Council. He is a past director of Variety Children's Charities and the Mequon-Thiensville Education Foundation, and a past member of the Marquette University President's Executive Senate. Olson also serves as a director of Fresh Brands, Inc.

No wonder The Marcus Corporation won't be showing 'Sicko' at any of their cinemas. There is going to be a long battle ahead over this one as corporate America closes ranks to defend a healthcare system that benefits the rich over the poor. Expect the propaganda campaign to go into overdrive as the release date approaches.